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Episode #328 – The Candidate Experience in Animal Health and Veterinary Hiring

The Vet Recruiter®
The Vet Recruiter®
Episode #328 - The Candidate Experience in Animal Health and Veterinary Hiring

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 industry and Veterinary profession. 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 the candidate experience in Animal Health and Veterinary hiring. Welcome, Stacy, and thank you for joining us today.

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

Caleb: Stacy, we have referenced the candidate experience before on The Animal Health and Veterinary Employment Insider podcast, but we haven’t addressed it directly, is that correct?

Stacy: Yes, that is right. In fact, we did address the employee experience, specifically in podcast episode #256 of The Animal Health and Veterinary Employment Insider podcast. Of course, the candidate experience and the employee experience are related, but there is a clear line that marks the difference between the two.

Caleb: You mean once the candidate is hired and becomes an employee? Is that the line?

Stacy: Yes, that’s correct. The candidate experience is what helps hire a candidate, and the employee experience is what helps retain the candidate once they’ve been hired.

Caleb: That makes sense Stacy. Where would you like to start today?

Stacy: Well, I would like to start with two things. First, employers that provide an exceptional experience for the candidates in their Animal Health hiring or Veterinary hiring process are more successful hiring those candidates and also branding themselves as an organization.

And second, a great experience is important not just for the candidates you want to hire, but also for the candidates you don’t hire, as well.

Caleb: What do you mean by that?

Stacy: The candidates that an organization does not hire could know other professionals in the Animal Health industry or Veterinary profession, and the things they say could have an impact on what those professionals think about the organization, even if they were not part of the hiring process.

Caleb: So it’s sort of like word-of-mouth advertising.

Stacy: It’s exactly like that. In fact, the experience that an organization provides for candidates during the recruiting and hiring process is a big part of their employer brand.

Caleb: And we’ve talked about employer branding before. In fact Stacy you are speaking about employer branding at the upcoming Western Veterinary Conference in Las Vegas in a few weeks.

Stacy: We absolutely have talked about employer branding before and yes I am speaking about employer branding at the upcoming Western Veterinary Conference in a few weeks. Employer branding does not only pertain to current employees. That’s because the hiring process is not just about finding—and hiring—the best candidates. It’s also about employer branding. Many employers don’t realize or understand that. It’s very important, especially in a small industry like the Animal Health industry or Veterinary profession.

Remember that you never know what other people a person knows. Let’s say that you’re an employer trying to hire and one of the candidates to whom you did not extend an offer and who did not enjoy a positive experience during your hiring process knows someone who would be a perfect fit for your organization.

Caleb: They’re not going to recommend that person to your company, are they?

Stacy: No, they are not. And not because you rejected them, but because you provided a negative experience for them.

Caleb: It certainly seems as though there is a lot for employers to think about when it comes to Animal Health hiring and Veterinary hiring. Not only do they have to be concerned about finding the right candidate and filling their open position, but they also have to be concerned about the candidates they don’t hire.

Stacy: That’s correct, and this is magnified by the current state of the job market, especially within the Veterinary profession. It’s a candidates’ job market still and has been in recent years, so candidates hold the majority of the leverage. As a result, the onus is on employers to prove their worth and their value as an organization.

Caleb: Because in the Veterinary profession, employers need candidates more than candidates need employers.

Stacy: That’s right! And that’s something that hiring managers need to keep in mind when attempting to recruit and hire veterinarians.

Caleb: So what are the keys to providing a great candidate experience?

Stacy: I’m glad you asked that question, because I just so happen to have those keys and I’m ready to discuss them.

Caleb: Great! What’s the first one Stacy?

Stacy: The first one is to write an engaging job description, which is one of the first ways that an organization can brand itself to candidates. You don’t want to present a dull, boring job description that just reads like a list of duties and responsibilities. Instead, you want to “sell” both the position and the organization in an exciting way.

Caleb: You want to make it sound as though working for the company will be a fun experience.

Stacy: At the very least, you want to make it sound as though it would be a positive and intriguing experience. It’s important to remember that candidates typically do not make what they believe is a lateral move. The vast majority of candidates will only make a move if they believe the job to which they’re moving is clearly better than the job they currently have.

And the job description or the job post is one of the first opportunities that an employer has to communicate to candidates that the opportunity they’re offering is clearly better than the candidates’ current job.

Caleb: That makes sense. What’s the next key on our list?

Stacy: The next key is setting proper expectations during the Animal Health and Veterinary hiring process.

Caleb: What does that entail Stacy?

Stacy: It entails good communication at the beginning of the process, namely telling candidates what they can expect. This includes what the candidate can expect from the employer and what the employer can expect from the candidate. Not only is this engaging, but it also sends the message to the candidate that the company is organized and it knows what it’s doing.

I can’t tell you how many candidates have told me down through the years that they thought the employer with which they were interviewing was disorganized and didn’t seem to know what it was doing. Candidates are not going to make a major life decision like changing jobs if they believe their potential new employer is disorganized.

And then, of course, there is the most important part of setting expectations.

Caleb: Which is what?

Stacy: Actually following through with what you say is going to happen. If a hiring official sets expectations with a candidate at the outset of the process and then those expectations are not met or something different happens, that still constitutes a negative experience. Just as in personal branding, if you say that you’re going to do something, then you must do whatever you said you were going to do.

Caleb: And if you don’t, then you’ve branded yourself as unreliable.

Stacy: Exactly! And candidates, especially top candidates, are not going to want to work for an organization that they view as unreliable.

Caleb: That makes perfect sense. What’s next?

Stacy: Next is consistently communicating and providing feedback. You can’t just communicate at the beginning of the process and then not communicate with candidates after that. Instead, you must make sure that candidates know what to expect during every stage of the process. Specifically, it means ensuring that candidates have the answers to two questions at all times. Those questions are “Where do I stand in the process right now?” and “What are the next steps of the process?”

If candidates don’t have definitive answers to those questions, then they might lose interest in the position and the process. They might start to think that they’re not a top candidate for the position or that the employer does not consider them to be a serious candidate.

Caleb: Which means they might drop out of the process altogether.

Stacy: That’s right, they might drop out of the process altogether and they might have a negative perception of the company because of their experience with the organization.

Once again, though, employers must consider both the candidates they hire and the ones they don’t hire.

Caleb: What do you mean by that?

Stacy: I mean it’s a good idea to not only provide feedback to all candidates, but also to solicit feedback, as well. And not just from the candidates you hire. Yes, you do want to solicit feedback from your new employees about their experience during the Animal Health or Veterinary hiring process. But you also want feedback from the other candidates, too.

After all, not everyone who went through the process considered it a successful process. In fact, everyone who did not get hired probably did not consider it successful. And that is exactly why you should solicit those candidates’ feedback.

Caleb: How can an organization do that?

Stacy: There’s an easy, effective way that you can obtain this feedback from candidates. There are online software programs, for instance, that will allow you to create a survey. You can also use Google Forms for this purpose.

Once you create the survey, you can email a survey link to these candidates. In fact, you can make it part of your regular correspondence with candidates who participate in the hiring process.

Caleb: Aren’t people going to use this as an opportunity to vent and voice their displeasure because they weren’t hired?

Stacy: First of all, if you have candidates who don’t take the high road and proceed to trash the company, then you can feel good about not hiring them as employees. Second, you can also safely screen those candidates out if they apply for positions in the future.

However, the majority of candidates will provide honest and truthful feedback. They might even feel flattered that they were asked in the first place. It could make the Animal Health hiring  process or Veterinary hiring process an even more positive experience for them.

Caleb: Because the better the candidate experience, the better the employer brand.

Stacy: Exactly right.

Caleb: Wow, there certainly seems to be a lot riding on the candidate experience. What’s the next key?

Stacy: The next key is making an attractive offer of employment to your top choice candidate.

Keep in mind that it’s okay if a candidate turns down your offer. However, you don’t want them to be offended by the offer, because once again, they’ll tell their friends and colleagues about their experience. If you believe that the candidate is a top candidate, then make a top offer.

Before you do so, though, conduct salary research to ensure that you’re making a competitive offer. Starting salaries have increased dramatically during the past three or four years, especially in the Veterinary profession. What you think might be a top offer could very well be considered a low-ball offer by the candidate, and that’s not a situation in which you want to find yourself.

And there’s something else that employers must keep in mind about making the offer.

Caleb: What’s that?

Stacy: If you’re working with a recruiter or search consultant, then let them make the offer to the candidate. It’s what the candidate is expecting, and deviating from this procedure can have an adverse effect on the process. I’ve seen it happen many times during my career as a recruiter.

From a purely practical standpoint, this is what recruiters are trained to do and they have more experience than the hiring manager in extending offers. In addition, when the recruiter makes the offer, there is a higher probability that it will be accepted.

Caleb: That alone is reason enough to let the recruiter make the offer!

Stacy: Exactly, but you would be surprised by how many hiring managers don’t see it that way.

Caleb: What else is on our list?

Stacy: Our last key is following up after the offer, and by this, I mean the timeframe between when the candidate accepts the offer and when they officially start their employment. In other words, their first official day of work.

The employer’s responsibility is not done once the candidate accepts the offer. It’s critical to keep the candidate engaged, because they could receive another offer, a counteroffer, or both. The number of counteroffers that I’ve seen organizations make has been rising steadily during the past several years, especially within the Veterinary profession. In fact, the majority of candidates who accept an offer from another organization receive a counteroffer from their current employer, and in some cases, those candidates are surprised when they receive one.

Caleb: Stacy, we’re just about out of time for today. Is there anything else that you’d like to add about the candidate experience in Animal Health and Veterinary hiring?

Stacy: Yes, I’d like to add that if you’re an employer and you’re using a recruiter, then that recruiting firm should also provide a great experience for candidates. As you well know, organizations often use executive search firms to fill important, top-level positions in a covert fashion. Such firms must provide a stellar experience, since they’re an extension of the organization for which they’re working.

Caleb: That’s a great point, Stacy. How can employers find and select the right recruiting firm for their needs, including one that will provide a great candidate experience.

Stacy: There are three main steps. The first is to research various firms. Don’t just work with the first recruiter who comes along. This means talking with your peers and colleagues and identifying the firms with which they’ve experienced success. More than likely, they can also tell you which firms to avoid.

The second step is building a relationship with the firm. Once you select a firm based upon recommendations and/or prior experiences, you must make sure the recruiters in that firm really understand your organization. They must know it from top to bottom and inside-out. These are the people who will represent you to top candidates. They should present themselves—and your organization—in the best fashion possible. And a bonus tip is have a relationship with a recruiting firm long before you need them!

And the third step is to avoid working with multiple recruiters or multiple recruiting firms.

Caleb: Why is that?

Stacy: We’ve touched upon this before, but hiring officials can mistakenly think that using more recruiters will increase the chances that they’ll find and hire the best candidate in the shortest amount of time. Some hiring managers think “the more the merrier”. This is a myth. In fact, using multiple firms can backfire. That’s because in addition to potentially confusing and quite possibly annoying candidates, not all of the recruiting firms may represent the organization at a high standard.

Caleb: And confusing or annoying candidates is not the best candidate experience, either.

Stacy: No, it is not!

Caleb: Stacy, how can employers get in contact with you if they want more information?

Stacy: We have an entire section of our website devoted to employers, including information about our Animal Health and Veterinary executive search and recruiting services and our recruiting process. Employers can also request a free consultation, get a quote, or submit a job order. And of course, our contact information is on the site if anyone would like to call or email us. I would also recommend signing up for our monthly newsletter, which contains hot candidates, hot jobs, and industry news.

Caleb: Stacy, thank you so much for joining us today and for all of this great information about the candidate experience and Animal Health and Veterinary hiring.

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

Caleb: If you are an employer in the Animal Health industry or Veterinary profession connect with The VET Recruiter on all of our social media channels and reach out to Stacy. Her team can help. If you are a professional in the Animal Health industry or a veterinarian wanting to be kept in mind for opportunities that come available be sure to visit the candidate tab on The VET Recruiter website. You can upload your resume and fill out a profile so that The VET Recruiter team has you on their radar and can keep you in mind for Animal Health employment and Veterinarian employment opportunities.  Be sure to join us again next week for The Animal Health and Veterinary Employment Insider!

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