Joel: Welcome to “The Animal Health and Veterinary Employment Insider,” brought to you by The VET Recruiter. In this podcast, Animal Health executive recruiter and Veterinary recruiter Stacy Pursell of The VET Recruiter provides insight and practical advice for both employers and job seekers in the Animal Health and Veterinary industries. The VET Recruiter’s focus is to solve talent-centric problems for the Animal Health industry and Veterinary profession. In fact, The VET Recruiter’s mission is to help Animal Health and Veterinary companies hire top talent, while helping Animal Health and Veterinary professionals attain career-enhancing opportunities that increase their quality of life.
Today, we will be talking about the key ingredient of Animal Health or Veterinary employer branding. Hello, Stacy, and thank you for joining us today.
Stacy: Hello, Joel. As always, I am glad to be here with you.
Joel: Stacy, what can you tell us about today’s topic?
Stacy: Employer branding is critical in the job market right now. In fact, it might be more important now than it has ever been. And we have discussed both personal branding and employer branding on the podcast. Both have to do with experience, specifically the experience that you provide for others.
For individuals, it is the experience that you provide to everyone that you meet or speak with. For employers, it is the experience that you provide for both your employees and also for candidates during the recruiting and hiring process.
Joel: Which type of employer branding will we be discussing today, the one for employees or the one for candidates during the hiring process?
Stacy: Both, actually, because the key ingredient applies to both situations. And there are three main reasons why we have been talking about employer branding and will continue to discuss it is.
Joel: What are those three reasons?
Stacy: The first reason is that it is a candidates’ market, and in such a market, employers must care more about what job seekers and candidates want. What they want is to work for a top organization, one that has an excellent reputation within the industry.
Second, the younger generations—Millennials and Generation Z—care less about profit and more about purpose in regard to their career. This means they want to work for an organization that also values purpose over profit.
And third, the Internet and social media have allowed for an almost instantaneous transfer of information. This includes people’s opinions and perceptions regarding their employer. As a result, an organization has an online reputation whether it wants one or not. The only question is whether or not the organization is taking steps to manage it.
Joel: How are employers doing in regard to employer branding, in your experience as a recruiter?
Stacy: The challenge is that some employers are not grasping employer branding as a concept, they are not recognizing what contributes to positive employer branding and what does not, or both. This is a problem because their inability to do these things is hurting their ability to hire top talent.
There are many different ways to brand your organization in a positive way. Showing that you care more about purpose than profit is one way, such as placing an emphasis on community outreach. Another way is by providing training opportunities for employees to sharpen their skills and increase their value.
Joel: I am guessing there is an even better way than those ways for an organization to brand itself, am I right?
Stacy: You are right! And to set the stage for this key ingredient, The VET Recruiter conducted a survey a while back of professionals in the Animal Health industry and Veterinary profession. As part of that survey, we asked a series of questions, many of which dealt directly with employers and the hiring process.
We also asked candidates what they look for in an employer. Two of the top answers were as follows:
Obviously, integrity and honesty are important to professionals. So is fairness and being treated with respect. Top candidates in today’s market want to be treated fairly and with respect by employers that they believe are honest and display integrity. And this forms the key ingredient of Animal Health and Veterinary employer branding.
Joel: Which would be what, exactly?
Stacy: The key ingredient of Animal Health and Veterinary employer branding is how you treat people.
Joel: How you treat people? That sounds pretty simple.
Stacy: It IS simple. However, not all employers realize this is the case.
Joel: What about salary and benefits? Don’t professionals value those things when they are exploring other jobs and looking at other employers?
Stacy: Yes, it is true that those things are important, but they can be achieved by just about any employer. But being treated fairly and with respect, not just every once in a while, but all of the time? That is rarer.
Not only that, but being compensated is just one part of the overall process of treating people well. In this case, you would be treating them well financially, in a way that is equal to the amount of value that they provide for the organization.
Joel: But according to the results of your survey, being treated well financially is the least of the ways that professionals want to be treated well. At the very least, it is not at the top of the list.
Stacy: That is right. It is true that one of the main reasons people leave their employer is other people. Most of the time, these people are their manager and/or supervisor. And what has prompted these professionals to leave? They believe that they are not being treated fairly or respected enough, if at all.
Of all the retention tools that lay at an organization’s disposal, treating its employees fairly and with respect should be the simplest and easiest one to implement.
Joel: So, you are talking about how an organization treats both its current employees and also candidates who are part of their hiring process, is that right?
Stacy: Yes, that is right, because how you treat someone is a big part of the experience that you provide for them. If you treat them poorly, then it will be a poor experience and your organization will have a poor employer brand. If you treat them well, then it will be a good experience and you will have a good employer brand. And this ties into what is called the “validation of experience.”
Joel: What is that?
Stacy: The “validation of experience” is the crucial link between how a candidate is treated during the recruiting and hiring process and how they are treated after they become an employee. The new employee must have their experience validated or they will think that things were misrepresented during the hiring process. And if they think that is the case, then they will immediately start to look for another job.
Joel: And they become a flight risk . . .
Stacy: Yes, they become a flight risk and now that great candidate who you worked so hard to hire is going to leave before they can contribute any real value to the organization.
But of course, that is assuming that an employer gives candidates a great experience during the hiring process. If it doesn’t give a great experience, then they won’t even get to the “validation of experience” because they won’t be able to convince a top candidate to accept their offer of employment. And I have a couple of case studies that illustrate this.
Joel: Great, I enjoy hearing your case studies!
Stacy: In the first case study, an employer wanted to interview an executive for a C-level position with its organization. However, the employer decided to fly the candidate in and out of town on the same day. In this fashion, the organization did not have to pay for hotel accommodations for the candidate. Not only that, but the employer also scheduled tight connection flights for the candidate, increasing the chances that the candidate might miss one of the connecting flights.
Joel: Wow, So what did the candidate think about all of this?
Stacy: For one thing, the candidate wondered if the organization was experiencing cash flow problems, since it opted to require them fly in and out on the same day instead of booking a hotel room. And if it wasn’t a cash flow problem, then the alternative is even less attractive: the organization was skimping simply because it values saving a buck over providing a premium candidate experience. At some point, the candidate has to ask themselves, “If this is how the organization treats me as a candidate, then how would it treat me if I become an employee?”
Joel: And these are the questions that candidates ask themselves during the hiring process?
Stacy: These are exactly the questions that they ask themselves. This candidate asked me the question too. He asked, if the company was experiencing a cash flow issue?
In our second case study, an employer wanted to hire an executive-level candidate. However, the employer had a HR representative screening candidates for the position. Unfortunately, the HR rep not only “grilling” the candidates during a grueling screening process, but they also didn’t answer any of the candidates’ questions about the job or opportunity.
Joel: I’m guessing that the candidates were not at all impressed by any of this.
Stacy: They were not impressed. After all, these executive-level candidates were not looking for a new job in the first place. They were contacted about an employment opportunity, and they made the decision to pursue it. Basically, they were looking for reasons to stay in the hiring process. However, the HR rep was giving these candidates plenty of reasons to NOT stay in the process. They did not enter the hiring process so they could be “grilled.” They entered it so they could be convinced that this opportunity was the next best step in their career.
So, the impression that these candidates had of the organization was that it had no idea how to attract and recruit top talent. In other words, they believed the employer was “out of touch” in terms of hiring in the modern employment marketplace. That’s exactly the opposite of a great Animal Health or Veterinary employer brand.
Joel: Well, now that we’ve looked at some ways NOT to treat people, what are all the ways that an organization should treat job candidates and employs so it can create a great employer brand?
Stacy: Well, we have already touched upon one of them briefly and that was compensation and benefits. However, the emphasis is on fair compensation and benefits, or it should be. Most of the time, candidates and employees aren’t trying to be greedy. They simply want to feel as though they’re being adequately compensated. Although because of the state of the current candidates’ market, I have some examples of candidates who were trying to be greedy. Thankfully, though, those stories are the exception to the rule.
Joel: I bet you have plenty of stories! What is another way that employers should treat people well or treat them fairly?
Stacy: Another way is with schedule flexibility. This doesn’t mean allowing employees to work from home all of the time, which of course may not feasible, especially in the Veterinary profession. However, a little flex time in their schedules goes a long way.
A third way to treat people well is to provide constructive feedback balanced with encouragement. Employees, especially top employees, crave honest feedback. However, a balanced approach is definitely the best avenue for accomplishing this. Encouragement is always appreciated, especially in those employees who want to excel and accomplish more.
Joel: I know we discussed that these are ways to treat both candidates and employees, but it seems as though some of them are more geared toward employees. Is that the case?
Stacy: Yes and no. You have to remember that during the recruiting and hiring process, it’s the job of the organization to convince candidates that they will be treated in a certain way once they become employees. It’s partly the anticipation of being treated in a certain way that convinces them to accept an organization’s offer of employment. And then, once they become an employee, they expect to be treated the way they promised they would be during the hiring process.
Joel: And that’s the “validation of experience”?
Stacy: That’s exactly right. And the fourth way to treat employees right is to give them the freedom to make mistakes and to learn from them.
Ideally, you want employees to grow and evolve. When they do that, they provide ever-increasing levels of value to the organization. However, no employee can grow without making occasional mistakes. If they feel like they will be lambasted for making them, though, they will be less inclined to try.
And last, but certainly not least, is no discrimination or harassment whatsoever.
Joel: Yes, I would imagine that is a big issue.
Stacy: It is, and it should go without saying, but it must be said, anyway.
This should go without saying, but it must be said, anyway. That is because some people don’t realize that the things they say to co-workers, colleagues, and subordinates can actually be classified as harassment. This is why harassment training should be mandatory for all employers.
Every member of management within an Animal Health or Veterinary employer should ask themselves, “How well do we treat our employees? Do we treat them fairly? Do we treat them with respect? If we do, then how do we? If we don’t, then what must we do to rectify the situation?”
If your organization has branded itself as one that treats employees badly, that is the “kiss of death” in terms of Animal Health or Veterinary employer branding. Not only will you not be able to hire the top candidates in the marketplace, but they will also avoid you. . . and tell everyone else to avoid you, too.
Joel: Stacy, we’re just about out of time for today. Is there anything else that you would like to add before we end today’s podcast episode?
Stacy: Yes, I would like to mention again that in in addition to being a Certified Personnel Consultant, I am also a Certified Employee Retention Specialist. I am one of less than 50 professionals and search consultants around the world who holds this certification. Since I hold both of these certifications, I am uniquely qualified to help The VET Recruiter’s clients both hire great employees and retain those employees for the long haul.
Joel: Stacy, thank you so much for all of this great information about the key ingredient in Animal Health and Veterinary employer branding. And there is additional information The VET Recruiter website about your services for employers, is that correct?
Stacy: Yes, there are many resources for employers, starting with a complete description of our services and what we offer. You can download an e-brochure that contains more information about what we can do for Animal Health and Veterinary organizations. In addition, we have a breakdown of the 20 steps that are involved in our recruiting process, so you know exactly what to expect when you partner with us on a search.
Joel: Is it true that you also have a list of the many positions that The VET Recruiter has filled on the website?
Stacy: Yes, that is correct. We have placed candidates in a wide variety of roles within both the Animal Health industry and Veterinary profession. And if you are an employer, you can also get a quote on our website, request a free consultation, or even submit a job order.
Joel: For more information about The VET Recruiter and the services that it provides to both Animal Health and Veterinary employers and professionals, we invite everyone listening to visit www.thevetrecruiter.com. Stacy, as always, thank you for joining us today.
Stacy: It has been my pleasure, Joel, and I look forward to our next episode of the “Animal Health and Veterinary Employment Insider”!
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