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Episode #267 – What Top Animal Health and Veterinary Job Candidates Expect During the Hiring Process

The Vet Recruiter®
The Vet Recruiter®
Episode #267 - What Top Animal Health and Veterinary Job Candidates Expect During the Hiring Process

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. 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’ll be talking about what top Animal Health and Veterinary job candidates expect from employers during the hiring process. Hello, Stacy, and thank you for joining us today.

Stacy: Hello, Joel. As always, I’m glad to be here with you today.

Joel: Stacy, you are an Animal Health and Veterinary Workforce workplace expert. What exactly will we be discussing today?

Stacy:  Thanks Joel. Today, we are going to talk about Animal Health and Veterinary job seekers and candidates today, because we are in a candidates’  job market. As I’ve said before, this is the most severe that I’ve ever seen a candidate shortage in my 25 years as an executive recruiter and search consultant. And as we talked about recently on our podcast, this shortage is not going away in the near future. In fact, it might get worse before the end of the decade. We expect to have thousands of veterinarian jobs open with absolutely no one to fill them.  We already do in fact have thousands of jobs and not enough people to fill them.

Joel: And this is why being able to recruit people is so important these days.

Stacy: Yes, that’s exactly right. And one of the ways to ensure that you hire well in today’s job market is to treat candidates the right way. It’s a combination of treating candidates the right way and giving them what they want during the interviewing and hiring process. And what they want—or what they expect—is the topic of today’s podcast episode.

Joel: Great. Where would you like to begin Stacy?

Stacy: Well, I have a list of 10 things. That list is broken into two categories: things that Animal Health and Veterinary job candidates expect employers to do during the hiring process and things that they expect employers NOT to do.

Joel: It really is a candidates’ market these days, so it is important to treat candidates the right way.

Stacy: It certainly is, and because that’s the case, employers that are not attuned to what top candidates want and expect are going to miss out on those candidates. Top Animal Health and Veterinary job candidates have the leverage in hiring situations, and employers must recognize that reality and adjust to it.

Joel: Which category would you like to start with?

Stacy: Let’s start with the category of things that top candidates expect from an employer during the hiring process.

The first thing they expect is that the employer will communicate with them throughout the process.

If an employer does not communicate consistently, then the candidate will think that perhaps the organization is no longer interested in them. So, they, in turn, will become uninterested in the organization and the job the organization is trying to fill.

Joel: I can see how that might be a problem if the employer really is interested.

Stacy: Yes, it can be a problem and I’ve seen it happen a number of times. The employer eventually reaches out to the candidate to discuss next steps, but the candidate has taken themselves out of consideration for the position in one way or another.

The second thing that top Animal Health and Veterinary job candidates expect during the hiring process is that the employer will “sell” both the opportunity and the organization to them.

Candidates want to know why they should work for you. And the answer is not simply because you have an open position to fill. These are top candidates. They are not unemployed.

Joel: And the unemployment rate in the Veterinary profession is practically zero.

Stacy: Yes, that’s right. We have talked about that before on our podcast. You have to assume that there are no unemployed veterinarians who want a job. Since that’s the case, employers have to entice top candidates and actively recruit them.

They also have to do the third thing that top candidates expect them to do during the hiring process, and that’s offer an employment opportunity that offers a better work-life balance than their current position offers.

Joel: We’ve talked about that recently as well Stacy.

Stacy: We have! In fact, we referenced LinkedIn’s “2022 Global Talent Trends Report.” This report was based on a survey that LinkedIn conducted of workers, and the results of that survey overwhelmingly showed that people place a high priority on both flexibility and work-life balance.

Candidates, even new graduates, do not expect to “pay their dues” or work long, grueling hours. Work-life balance is extremely important to them in a new employment situation.

Joel: Even new graduates are receiving great offers right out of school, aren’t they Stacy?

Stacy: That’s correct. New graduates are receiving multiple offers, and those offers include six-figure starting salaries. I’ve seen new graduate veterinarians right out of school being offered as much as $130,000 and even $150,000. Employers not offering some measure of flexibility or better work-life balance are going to miss out. We recently had a new graduate only willing to work 3 days a week and was expecting to earn $150,000.

The fourth thing is that top Animal Health and Veterinary candidates expect is they expect to be asked challenging questions during the interview. After all, an employer expects candidates to ask great questions. It makes sense that candidates would want the same thing from the employer. That’s because they view the questions that the hiring manager or practice owner asks as an indication of the type of organization it is.

That brings us to our fifth item in the first category.

Joel: Which item is that?

Stacy: It might be the most important item, which is candidates expect employers to make them feel as though they’re genuinely wanted. You can not underestimate this expectation, especially when dealing with the younger generation. You can’t have a “take it or leave it” attitude with top candidates. They’ll leave it.

Joel: You mean they’ll drop out of the process or reject an offer from an employer if they don’t feel as though they’re wanted?

Stacy: That’s right, and I’ve seen it happen on more than one occasion. And that’s actually part of our sixth thing that candidate expect.

Joel: What’s that?

Stacy: They expect an employer to make an overall compelling offer of employment. In this job market, you will not be able to hold the attention of top candidates with anything less than a compelling offer—on all levels. This includes salary, benefits, flexibility, and perks. One way to look at it is that this is an investment in the future of the organization, not just an upfront cost to hire somebody.

Joel: And since veterinarians are in such short supply, there’s no way around having to pay more to hire one.

Stacy: That’s exactly right. I wrote a blog post for The VET Recruiter website titled, “Why Higher Wages and Bigger Bonuses are Inevitable in This Market” which talks all about this. So, if you’re a Veterinary employer and you’re about to make an offer to your best candidate, then be sure that you make your best offer. Otherwise, you’re not going to hire them.

Joel: So, what about our second category of things that candidates expect, the things that they expect employer to NOT do?

Stacy: Whereas there were six things in the first category, there are four things in the second. The first thing that Animal Health and Veterinary job candidates expect employers NOT to do is spend all day in a marathon interview session.

I once had a candidate spend eight hours interviewing with a client, and they were not even offered a break for lunch. Needless to say, they didn’t think highly of the organization.

Joel: Wow! How as the pandemic changed all of this?

Stacy: As you might imagine, at times during the pandemic there were fewer onsite face-to-face interviews, but they still occur, and this is almost back to normal now where more interviews are happening in person again. Some employers still want to see candidates in person before hiring them, although there is no rule saying that has to be the case. And we have had clients make offers to candidates without ever meeting them in person.

But even if you’re holding virtual or video interviews as an employer, you don’t want to take up the candidate’s entire day with Zoom calls. In fact, you don’t even want to take up half their day. As an employer, you must respect candidates’ time, and that includes during the hiring process. If you don’t respect their time, then they won’t have a high opinion of your organization.

The eighth thing that candidate expect also deals directly with the interview.

Joel: What’s that?

Stacy: Candidates do not expect to be called for three, four, or five interviews. We’ve discussed this before, but top candidates have jobs. Actually, pretty much all veterinarians have jobs who want a job. The unemployment rate in the profession is nearly non-existent like we already discussed. Because of this, these candidates don’t want to risk the confidentiality of their search by having to take personal days for multiple interviews with a single employer.

Joel: Is part of this the fact that employers are worried about making a poor hire?

Stacy: It could be. I know that some organizations do everything they can to make sure they hire the right person, but this can draw out the whole process. There is a balance that must be struck between doing your due diligence and screening a candidate beyond the point they should be screened. Speed is a definitely a factor in these situations, and since the unemployment rate in the Veterinary profession is almost non-existent, so is the margin of error for organizations looking to hire in this environment.

Joel: Wouldn’t the candidate also think that maybe the organization is indecisive?

Stacy: Yes, absolutely. Employers are branding themselves during the hiring process, and it’s easy for an organization to brand itself in the wrong way.

The ninth thing that candidates do not expect also deals with the interview. They don’t expect to be interrogated during the interview. This is especially the case with top passive candidates. They don’t want to be mercilessly “grilled.” They’re not desperate, after all. In fact, they’re far from it. They have plenty of options and opportunities available to them.

I have had this happen multiple times during my career. It’s even happened to executive-level candidates who were simply exploring other opportunities and had not committed to leaving their current employer.

Joel: I bet that experience did not convince them to leave their employer.

Stacy: It did not, and it also did not convince them to continue exploring that particular opportunity. They were not impressed, and so they dropped out of the process.

Joel: Stacy, what’s the final item on our list?

Stacy: The last thing for today is that candidates do NOT expect to be low-balled during the offer stage of the process. This one is related to what we discussed earlier about making an overall compelling offer. Yes, candidates want and expect flexibility and a better work-life balance, but they also want compensation that is equal to the value that they will be providing to the organization.

Joel: And like you mentioned earlier, there’s just no way around having to spend more money to hire Veterinary talent these days.

Stacy: Yes, that’s right. Employers are not going bargain shopping, so they shouldn’t approach the situation with that mentality. We are in a severe veterinarian shortage, and employers must pay top dollar to be competitive in the marketplace.

Joel: Stacy, we are 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 remind the members of our listening audience that the veterinarian shortage is not going to get better in the future. In fact, when looking at the data from many sources, it’s evident that it could get even worse. There could be 10,000 open jobs by the end of the decade and no one to fill them. That will have a major impact on the profession. According to Banfield Pet Hospital, there would be as many as 75 million pets without Veterinary care by the year 2030. Not only that, but people continue to spend more money on their pets on a year-over-year basis, creating even more demand for Veterinary care and services.

This is a good reason to be prepared now and position yourself for hiring success. You must be willing and able to meet and even exceed the expectations that candidates have in the Animal Health and Veterinary job market. Because if you don’t do that, then you won’t be able to hire them.

Joel: Stacy, thank you so much for all of this great information about the job candidate and employee experience in Animal Health and Veterinary hiring. How can hiring managers and practice owners get in contact with you if they have more questions or if they want to discuss their personnel needs?

Stacy: They can always call or email, of course. The phone number is (800) 436-0490 and my email address is stacy@thevetrecruiter.com. I would also encourage our listening audience to visit our website at www.thevetrecruiter.com. There is a lot that a hiring manager or practice owner can do once they’re on the site, including getting a quote and requesting a free consultation. And one thing that I haven’t mentioned before is our testimonials page. I invite our listeners to visit that page and see what our clients and candidates have said about the services that we provide.

Joel: Stacy, as always, thank you very much for joining us today.

Stacy: It’s been my pleasure Joel  and I look forward to our next episode of the Animal Health and Veterinary Employment Insider!

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