Episode #274 – How to ‘Sell’ an Animal Health or Veterinary Job to Top Candidates

The Vet Recruiter®
The Vet Recruiter®
Episode #274 - How to ‘Sell’ an Animal Health or Veterinary Job to Top Candidates
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Caleb: 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’ll be talking about how to “sell” an Animal Health or Veterinary job to top candidates during the hiring process. Hello, Stacy, and thank you for joining us today.

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

Caleb: Stacy, you’ve discussed this to some degree before on the podcast. Why have you decided to revisit it?

Stacy: For a couple of reasons. First, it’s been a while since we’ve talked about it on the podcast. And second, the job market has only gotten tighter for talent during the past several months, especially in the Veterinary profession. Since the unemployment rate is virtually non-existent in the profession, that means the margin for error when it comes to recruiting and hiring is also non-existent.

In addition, this means the ability to “sell” an Animal Health or Veterinary job has become even more important. Job candidates, especially top candidates, have a lot of choices and a lot of options.

Caleb: Stacy, when you say top candidates, you mean the top 5% to 10% of the candidates in the job market, is that right?

Stacy: Yes, that’s right. Although to be candid, it’s not just top candidates who have a lot of options. Most candidates have plenty of options right now. There are so many employment opportunities out there and many Veterinary practices need to hire talent. I don’t recall the last time I spoke with an unemployed veterinarian who needed a job, and employers are in dire need of qualified veterinarians at the moment.

Caleb: And since that’s the case, employers don’t have as much leverage as candidates do since there are so many jobs. Employers need to hire more than candidates need a job, especially someone who already has a job and is not actively looking for a position.

Stacy: Yes, that’s right. There are far less qualified candidates in the job market than open positions. In fact, according to a recent statement by the American Association of Veterinary Medical Colleges, in 2019, there were 2,000 to 3,000 more job openings than veterinarians available to fill those openings.

Caleb: And that was three years ago. Do you think there’s an even greater disparity now?

Stacy: I do. The pandemic helped to generate more of a need for Veterinary products and services. The demand for veterinarians has only grown since 2019, so it would not surprise me if there were 3,500 or 4,000 more job openings than available veterinarians right now.

Caleb: So being able to “sell” an Animal Health or Veterinary job is more important than ever for employers.

Stacy: It is. Some employers have jobs open for months at a time because they can’t even find enough candidates to interview. So, when you find qualified candidates and you do get them into the interview process, you must “sell” them on all aspects of the job and also the opportunity. Like you said, employers have fewer options and opportunities than the candidates they’re interviewing, so when they do have the chance to land a great new recruit, they have to seize that opportunity.

Caleb: So, Stacy, where would you like to start?

Stacy: I’d like to start with the steps that are involved with “selling” an Animal Health or Veterinary job to top candidates. And the first step is to make the job description attractive. An effective job description and job ad HAS to be attractive. You must describe what the candidate is going to experience at your place of business, not just the work they are going to do. Today’s candidates are looking for an experience. It’s like Starbucks. You can get a $2 coffee at some places like maybe a fast food restaurant, but people pay $5, $6, or even $7 for some of the specialty coffees at Starbucks because people pay to have an experience at Starbucks.

Caleb: I know what you mean. I have to admit, Starbucks does provide a different experience than, say, some other fast-food restaurants .

Stacy: Right, I agree. In this market, you have to attract candidates with what I like to call “sizzle.” Basically, your job ad has to “sizzle” like a piece of bacon and entice candidates to want to talk with you.

Caleb: There are few things that are as attractive as the sizzle and smell of bacon.

Stacy: I agree again, with apologies to anyone in our listening audience who may be a vegetarian. And that’s what an employer must do with the job description. And that brings us to the second step, which is emphasizing the status of the organization or what sets it apart from the competition.

Caleb: What is involved with the status of the organization? What does that mean?

Stacy: The “status of the organization” refers to awards that it’s won or any recognition that it’s received as an employer, anything that would cast the organization in a positive light. Talk about what is special about the company culture. Describe the personal development, training, and new skills the candidate will acquire by coming to work for your organization.

The third step is to emphasize potential growth opportunities. Candidates must be able to see a path forward for their career within the organization. They have to be able to visualize their future; if they can’t visualize a future with the organization, then they won’t want to move forward. This is especially the case with top candidates and high performers. They always want to be moving forward and they’re always thinking about moving forward and growing their career.

Caleb: Stacy, you’ve talked about this before, but one of the biggest reasons that a person would accept an offer of employment is because they believe there are more opportunities for professional development with the new organization, is that right?

Stacy: Correct. That’s why employers must emphasize the opportunities that exist at their company.

Caleb: What else is part of “selling” an Animal Health or Veterinary job to top candidates?

Stacy: The fourth step is to communicate the organization’s core values and vision. Core values are very important to today’s candidates, especially the members of the younger generations. And yes, I’m talking about Millennials and Gen Zers. Today’s candidates want to work for an employer that has a purpose. And of course, it almost goes without saying that one of the main purposes of an employer is to make a profit. After all, a company or organization can’t stay in business very long if it doesn’t make a profit, and candidates realize this.

So they want to work for an employer that not only makes a profit, but also has a purpose other than making a profit.

Caleb: What kind of purpose are we talking about?

Stacy: In a broad sense, we’re talking about a purpose that makes the world a better place in some way. Today’s candidates are all about work that is meaningful and working for an employer that is making the world better. That could be part of how the organization makes a profit or not. It could also involve charity work or giving to organizations. In other words, candidates want to work for an organization that is socially conscious and that is committed to giving back to the community in which it operates.

Caleb: Is this all related to company culture?

Stacy: Yes, it’s related. Company culture has a lot of different facets, including the organization’s core values, its vision for the future, and its purpose in the world besides making a profit. There are more elements to company culture than just these three, but these are major elements, and they are certainly important to candidates during the recruiting and hiring process.

Caleb: Stacy, what about the starting salary and benefits? How important are those in “selling” an Animal Health or Veterinary job to top candidates?

Stacy: They are important, of course, but not as important as some people might think. First, because there is a shortage of veterinarians, the price of hiring those veterinarians has gone up dramatically during the past several years. I would say that higher starting salaries and bigger sign-on bonuses are inevitable in this market. And the candidates know that.

Candidates know they’re going to get a good starting salary and attractive sign-on bonus. So, they’re not as worried about that when it comes to deciding whether or not to make a move. If a candidate is interviewing with multiple employers, they could entertain multiple offers. And in a situation like that, those offers could be comparable in terms of starting salary and benefits. As a result, the candidate might use other, more intangible factors to make their decision. Those factors include everything else that we’ve discussed so far—the status of the organization, opportunities for development and advancement, core values, mission statement, and vision for the future.

Caleb: What are some other intangible elements that an employer must use to “sell” an Animal Health or Veterinary job offer to top candidates?

Stacy: One of the big things these days is flexibility and flexible working arrangements. Work-life balance is also something that’s important to today’s candidates, and they believe that flexibility is key to having that balance. Although some Veterinary employers are not able to provide a lot of flexibility, they may have to get creative when offering flexible work arrangements. Today’s candidates are not likely going to work 60 hours or more per week in their first Animal Health or Veterinary job out of school. It’s not going to happen, for two reasons. First, they don’t want to work that much, and second, because of current conditions in the job market, they don’t have to. Gone are those days w hen someone graduated from veterinary school and worked 60 hours a week unless they are a practice owner.

Caleb: Stacy, I know there’s a lot of “selling” involved when it comes to hiring Veterinary candidates. But how often does a candidate turn down an offer? And how much negotiation is involved at the end of the process?

Stacy: That’s one of the challenges for Veterinary employers in this job market. Even if they do everything right during the hiring process, it’s no guarantee that the candidate they make an offer to will actually accept the offer. Candidates are turning down offers for a variety of reasons, including the fact they don’t think the offer is good enough. They could also be getting offers from other employers, and there’s always the chance that their current employer will make a counteroffer to them. In fact, these days, you have to assume that a candidate who has accepted your offer as an employer is going to receive a counteroffer.

Caleb: Because that organization can not afford to lose a veterinarian.

Stacy: That’s right, they can not. So in light of that, you can’t blame an employer for making a counteroffer to an employee, especially an important employee. Because of this, a Veterinary organization must be ready, willing, and able to negotiate with their top choice once they make an offer. Either the candidate is going to reject the offer, which means the organization will hopefully have the chance to negotiate with the candidate. Or the candidate is going to accept the offer initially and then change their mind later because they received another offer or they received a counteroffer from their current employer.

Caleb: So even when an employer thinks that they’re done “selling” an Animal Health or Veterinary job to a candidate, they may not be done.

Stacy: That’s right. They’re not done until the candidate has accepted the offer and actually started their employment with the organization. Which means it has to keep “selling” during the time between when the candidate accepts the offer and when they officially start work. Because the candidate could change their mind at any point during that time frame. They have to be convinced they made the right decision.

Caleb: Stacy, we’re just about out of time. Would you like to add anything else before we finish today’s episode?

Stacy: Yes, I would. Above all things, a job seeker or candidate must believe that an employment opportunity that they’re considering or exploring is better than their current job. And not just a little better, either. They must believe that this new position is going to ad significant value above what they currently have The new opportunity is going to need to be clearly better than their present situation. I’ve said this before, but top candidates are not as likely to make a move for something equal to their current situation, especially with as much opportunity that currently exists in the job market. They are looking for something greater.

As a result, when a hiring manger or veterinary practice owner is attempting to “sell” an Animal Health or Veterinary job to top candidates, that person must “sell” the fact their job opportunity is clearly better and is better in multiple ways. This is how you convince a top candidate to resign from their current position and quite possibly move themselves and their family across the country for another opportunity.

Changing jobs is a major life event, and because that’s the case, there is a certain amount of stress associated with it. Top job candidates are not going to make the decision to undergo a major life event unless they believe it’s 100% worth it. So when it comes to “selling” an Animal Health or Veterinary job to top candidates, you have to convince those candidates that making a career move for that job is worth it.

Caleb: Stacy, thank you so much for joining us today and for all of this great information about “selling” an Animal Health or Veterinary job to top candidates.

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