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Episode #293 – How to Recruit Veterinarians in a Challenging Job Market, Part 2

The Vet Recruiter®
The Vet Recruiter®
Episode #293 - How to Recruit Veterinarians in a Challenging Job Market, Part 2

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 continuing our discussion about recruiting veterinarians in a challenging job market. Hello, Stacy, and thank you for joining us today.

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

Caleb: Stacy, this is the next part of our series about how to recruit and hire veterinarians, is that correct?

Stacy: Yes, it is.

Caleb: So, what will we be talking about today?

Stacy: Well, in our previous podcast episode, we discussed having the proper mindset as an employer when recruiting veterinarians. To recap, that means recognizing that there is a shortage of veterinarians in the job market and a great demand for their services, which means that veterinarian job candidates have the leverage in just about all hiring situations. In other words, it means admitting that employers need veterinarians more than veterinarians need employers.

We also discussed the important first step of identifying qualified candidates, namely because you can’t recruit veterinarians if you don’t know who they are. Identification is a major first step.

Caleb: That all makes sense. So, what will we be discussing today?

Stacy: We’re going to continue our discussion about recruiting veterinarians and move to the next stage of the process, which is engaging them.

Caleb: Engaging them?

Stacy: Yes. Remember, these are passive job candidates we are talking about. They are not actively looking for a new job. So if an employer needs a veterinarian and they post an online job advertisement, these passive candidates are not going to see the ad. That’s because they’re not actively looking for jobs on the Internet.

Caleb: Stacy, can you shed more light on the term “passive candidates”? What does it means, exactly, to be passively looking for a new job?

Stacy: When you’re a passive candidate, you’re not actively looking for a new job, but you’re open to the possibility of one. It means that you’re open to opportunity, and being open to opportunity means three things. First, you’re open to hearing about an opportunity. Second, you are open to considering an opportunity. And third, you’re open to exploring an opportunity if it makes sense to do so.

And the main reason that a passive candidate would be willing to do all of these things is that they’re interested in a new opportunity if that job is clearly better than the job they have now. They won’t be interested in a job that’s about the same as their current job or a job that’s a little better. They’re interested in opportunities that are clearly better than what they already have.

Caleb: Is this why employers must engage veterinarians when they are trying to recruit them? Because they don’t even know about the opportunity, and they have to be “sold” on it?

Stacy: Yes, that is right. In other words, employers must be proactive about recruiting veterinarians in this job market. You cannot wait until a veterinarian somehow comes across your opportunity, applies to a job advertisement, or fills out an application. That is not going to happen. That’s a reactive approach that’s not going to produce results. Instead, employers must proactively engage with veterinarian candidates in a way that will convince them to consider their opportunity.

Caleb: Stacy, this leads me to another question. What is the difference between recruiting and hiring veterinarians? Are they one and the same? Are they interchangeable? Or is there a difference or a line of delineation that we’re going to address?

Stacy: That’s a great question, and I’m glad you brought it up. Yes, there is a difference between recruiting veterinarians and then hiring them. Now, it is true that recruiting is technically part of the overall hiring process, so in that regard they are similar and closely related.

However, for our purposes, recruiting veterinarians involves everything that an employer does to convince a candidate to consider their opportunity. This encompasses everything from initially engaging them about the opportunity to making an official offer of employment to them.

Caleb: So, the offer of employment is the dividing line between the two, between recruiting veterinarians and hiring them?

Stacy: Yes. The offer of employment is the “moment of truth,” so to speak, in terms of recruiting veterinarians. If the candidate accepts the offer, then the employer has successfully recruited them. However, if the candidate does not accept the offer or if they simply disappear or “ghost” on the offer, then the employer has not successfully recruited them. And you can’t hire a veterinarian candidate unless you first successfully recruit them.

Caleb: I see. So does that mean the hiring of the candidate begins once they accept the employer’s offer?

Stacy: That is right. Successfully recruiting a veterinarian is one thing; successfully hiring them after you’ve recruited them is another.

Caleb: Can you explain?

Stacy: Certainly. Hiring a veterinarian is the process of turning them from a candidate into an employee. As you might imagine, this involves the onboarding process and also the orientation process. However, it’s important to note that those two are not the same thing. Just like recruiting and hiring are technically different, onboarding and orientation are also different.

Caleb: Might we tackle that topic in a future podcast episode?

Stacy: Yes, that is a good idea. I do not believe we’ve addressed that topic yet.

After a candidate accepts an organization’s offer of employment, anything can happen. Once they give their notice at their current job, their employer could make a counteroffer to them. In fact, counteroffers have become more prevalent in the Veterinary profession during the past several years, to the point where the majority of veterinarians who accept an offer of employment from another organization receive a counteroffer.

If the candidate is interviewing with multiple employers, then they might accept an offer from another organization after they already accepted an offer from the first employer.

Caleb: Candidates do that?

Stacy: Oh, yes, they do. It happens more frequently than you might think, and the reason is the current state of the job market and the tremendous amount of leverage that candidates have.

Caleb: So, when we talk about recruiting veterinarians, as we’ve been doing these past couple of podcast episodes, we’re talking about everything that happens up to the official offer of employment?

Stacy: Yes, that is right. If the candidate drops out of the process before then or they turn down the offer, then the employer has failed to recruit the veterinarian, despite its best efforts.

Caleb: So how can employers do it? How can they successfully recruit veterinarians?

Stacy: There are multiple things that they can do and the first thing, of course, is to identify qualified candidates. As we have discussed, this is more difficult to do in the midst of current market conditions.

However, they must check their own database. Perhaps they have the contact information of veterinarians that they have interviewed in the past or who have applied for one their jobs previously. Second, the employer can leverage the power of their current workforce.

Caleb: What do you mean by that?

Stacy: I mean they can ask your current employees for referrals of people who may be looking to make a move in their career. If you’re an employer and you trust the people you have on staff—and I certainly hope that you do—then it makes sense to ask them if they know someone who might be a good fit for the organization. If you trust your employees and they trust the people they refer to you, then it makes sense that you would trust those referrals, as well.

Third, employers can attempt to use social media to identify viable candidates. This might be more difficult, depending upon how tech savvy the person conducting the research is.

Fourth, a hiring manager or practice owner can do a Google resume search to look for qualified candidates.

Caleb: You mean employers can just use the Google search engine to find veterinarians they want to recruit?

Stacy: Yes, but it’s not exactly easy and it does take practice. However, there are articles and tutorials online that can help you.

Caleb: Okay, once a hiring manager or Veterinary practice owner has identified qualified candidates, what’s next? Is this when the actual recruiting begins?

Stacy: Yes, this is when an employer should recruit the veterinarians that they’ve targeted for their search. This means proactively engaging them. If you wait for the candidates to come to you, then you’ll be waiting a long time.

Caleb: How should employers engage them?

Stacy: The first and most obvious way is a phone call. You must call the veterinarian and convince them that your job opening represents the next best step in their career. And remember, as we mentioned, top passive candidates are only interested in an opportunity that is clearly better than their current job. And we’ll get to how to do that in just a minute.

Second, you can email and/or text the candidate. The members of the younger generations are all about texting. They’ve pretty much grown up with it, so it’s the preferred method of communication for many of them. As you might imagine, it might be more difficult to fully engage a candidate through email or text, but hopefully the initial interaction will result in a phone call in which you can explain more about the position.

Third, you can send a direct message to the candidate via social media. Once again, more members of the younger generations are on social media, so they’re at ease with communicating through these platforms, even when it comes to professional matters like a new job.

Caleb: So once you have candidates engaged, how do you recruit these veterinarians? I imagine there is a lot involved.

Stacy: There is a lot involved. That’s because a hiring manager or Veterinary practice owner has to “sell” the positon to the candidate. They have to make the job very appealing, and as we mentioned, it must appear to be clearly better than the candidate’s current job. If it doesn’t appear to be clearly better, the candidate’s interest in the position is going to diminish and they’re ultimately not going to join the hiring process.

Caleb: Which means that the employer has unsuccessfully recruited the veterinarian.

Stacy: Correct. And when it comes to actively recruiting veterinarians, there are four things that an employer should focus on.

Caleb: What are those four things?

Stacy: The first thing is the opportunity itself, and we are talking about more than just compensation, including salary and benefits. In this job market, top candidates know they can get the money they want. They also want other things, such as opportunities for professional development and the chance to add more skills.

The second thing is the organization, whether it’s a Veterinary practice or hospital or an Animal Health company. Veterinarian job candidates want to work for the best organizations, those that are an “employer of choice” in the marketplace. In other words, winners want to work for winners. In addition, they want to work for an employer that has the same core values that they do. This is often an overlooked factor when recruiting veterinarians, so employers must make it a priority during their conversations with them.

The third thing that employers must “sell” to veterinarian job candidates is the organization’s company culture. This is also something that is important to today’s candidates, especially the members of the younger generations. They want to feel at ease within the culture and not feel threatened in any way. They want to know that they’ll be treated with respect and that everyone within the organization will be treated with respect. Veterinarians in today’s job market are under a lot of stress, so if they make a move, they want to work for an organization that will help them reduce their stress levels and not make their stress worse.

And the fourth thing is what taking the position will mean for the candidate’s career moving forward. For top candidates, taking a new job is not just about the new job. It’s about the next step in their career. They’re always thinking about the “big picture,” and as a result, employers have to think that way, as well. If a veterinarian candidate can’t see or visualize themselves excelling within your position and at your organization, then they ultimately will not pursue the opportunity. That’s why it’s the job of the hiring manager or other decision maker to help the candidate visualize their success.

Caleb: Stacy, we’re just about out of time, so is there anything else that you’d like to add before we wrap up today’s podcast episode?

Stacy: Yes, I’d like to say that proactively recruiting veterinarians in this job market is not easy. However, it is necessary for those organizations that want to hire consistently well. In fact, being proactive about recruiting and hiring veterinarians is about the only way that you can do it. There aren’t many veterinarians out there who are actively looking for a new job.

That being said, successfully recruiting veterinarians requires a certain amount of time, energy, and effort. But that is not a sunk cost. Instead, it’s an investment in the future of the organization, and if you hire the right veterinarians, then you’ll receive a return on your investment.

Caleb: Stacy, thank you so much for joining us today and for all of this great information about recruiting veterinarians.

Stacy: You’re very welcome, Caleb, and thank you. It’s been my pleasure, and I look forward to our next episode of The Animal Health and Veterinary Employment Insider!

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