Episode #67 – The Unpleasant Reality That Employers Have to Accept in This Job Market

Sharita: Welcome to “The Animal Health Employment Insider,” brought to you by The VET Recruiter. In this podcast, search consultant Stacy Pursell, founder and CEO 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 mission is to help Animal Health and Veterinary organizations acquire top talent, while helping Animal Health and Veterinary professional’s attain career-enhancing opportunities that increase their quality of life.

In today’s podcast, we’ll be talking about the reality that employers have to accept in this job market. Stacy, thank you for joining us.

Stacy: Hello, Sharita. I’m glad to be here.

Sharita: Stacy, I have a question about the title of today’s podcast. It says “Unpleasant Reality.” What do you mean by that?

Stacy: When I say “unpleasant,” I mean “tough.” There are some tough truths right now for employers in the Animal Health industry and Veterinary profession. And if employers don’t face and deal with them, then they’re going to have a LOT of difficulty when it comes to hiring.

Sharita, what I’d like to do is frame our discussion in a certain way.

Sharita: What way is that?

Stacy: I’d like to frame it from the perspective of a courtroom drama. I’m sure you’ve seen plenty of courtroom dramas on television, shows like Law & Order.

Sharita: I have, yes.

Stacy: One of the phrases that’s sometimes mentioned during a courtroom drama is “burden of proof.” To paraphrase the legal definition, the “burden of proof” refers to the duty of a party in a trial to produce the evidence that will support the claims they’re making. In other words, if they want everyone in the courtroom to believe what they are saying, including the judge, then they’re going to have to prove it without a shadow of a doubt.

Sharita: What does that have to do with employers?

Stacy: Well, in this current job market, the “burden of proof” ultimately rests with Animal Health and Veterinary employers and not with candidates.

Sharita: Does this have something to do with the fact that we’re currently in a candidates’ job market?

Stacy: Yes, it absolutely does! And in a candidates’ job market, all candidates have more options. Not only that, but the best candidates also have the most options and the best options available to them.

So if we keep with our courtroom analogy, we have two parties: the candidate and the employer. During the hiring process, both of these parties, in essence, are making claims that they believe 100% to be true.

Sharita: What are those claims?

Stacy: The candidate, by wanting to be considered for the organization’s open position, is claiming they are the best candidate for the position. The employer, on the other hand, is claiming that they are an employer of choice within the Animal Health industry or Veterinary profession.

Sharita: Stacy, why is that what the employer is claiming. Shouldn’t they be claiming that they have a job they want to fill?

Stacy: That’s not a claim. That’s a fact. They don’t have to claim that. Everyone can see it. That would be like a job seeker or candidate saying that they’re a living, breathing person. That’s a fact, too. Everyone can see it. What they’re claiming, on the other hand, is that they’re the best person for the position.

And there is a certain degree of difficulty that’s involved for the employer.

Sharita: What’s that?

Stacy: The employer has to prove its claim to every single candidate involved in the hiring process. The candidates, on the other hand, just have to prove their claim to one employer. However, they more than likely have to prove it to multiple people within the organization. As I mentioned, this is also known as the “burden of proof.” Both parties are making a claim, and it is their “burden of proof” to back that claim up.

Sharita, I have a case study that I would like to discuss that shows how this applies to the employment marketplace.

Sharita: What did this case study involve?

Stacy: Well, a candidate was supposed to have a phone interview with one of my clients. In fact, the candidate and the hiring manager had scheduled a specific day and time for the phone interview. The time came and went, but the candidate did not receive a call. Later that day, the candidate did receive an email from the hiring manager, who said they had tried to call and left a message on the candidate’s cell phone. However, the candidate did not find a message on their phone.

Sharita: So this phone screening never happened. Whose fault was it?

Stacy: That is an excellent question, and not one that is easily answered. One of the phone company providers could have been to blame, but there was no real way to prove that. However, there was a dilemma.

Sharita: What dilemma was that?

Stacy: Since the hiring manager was under the impression that the candidate did not answer the phone, they thought that perhaps the candidate was no longer interested in the position.

On the other hand, since the candidate had no record of a voicemail message on their cell phone, they were left with a poor impression of the company. In fact, their impression was so poor that they were contemplating dropping out of the hiring process altogether. They were thinking of dropping out not because they weren’t interested in the position, but because of how the failed phone call was handled.

So while it’s difficult to say who was at fault, on which party does the “burden of proof” lie?

Sharita: I’m going to guess that it’s on the employer. Am I correct?

Stacy: Yes, and this is where the problem arises for employers. Because of this experience, the candidate has a “bad taste in their mouth” about the organization.

Sharita: But what if the employer doesn’t want to consider the candidate for the position anymore? Then it wouldn’t matter, is that right?

Stacy: Even if the hiring manager decided that they did not want to consider the candidate anymore, that candidate could talk with other people about their experience. What they would relay to them would be a perceived negative experience.

On the one hand, you have the organization wanting to be an employer of choice within the marketplace. On the other hand, you have a perceived negative experience. You’ll notice that I said “perceived.” That’s because, as we’ve mentioned before, perception is reality.

Does a perceived negative experience during the hiring process go hand-in-hand with being an employer of choice? No, it doesn’t.

Now, it’s certainly true that everyone is busy. It’s true that everyone’s time is valuable. However, in this situation, the “burden of proof” lies with the employer. In order to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that their organization is an employer of choice, its officials must go “above and beyond” to state their case.

Sharita: How do they do that, exactly? What could they have done differently in this situation?

Stacy: Employers need to state their case by doing everything they can to make a positive impression. That could entail any number of things, depending upon the situation. This includes calling, emailing, and/or texting, basically communicating to a greater extent.

In this particular situation, if the hiring manager called and didn’t get the candidate on the phone, perhaps they misdialed and could have tried again or followed up with an email. With the “burden of proof” being on the employer, the hiring manager must go to greater lengths to back up their claim of being on employer of choice.

Sharita: Stacy, is there a bit of a mental hurdle that hiring managers and employers must get over in order to do this? It seems like quite a bit is involved.

Stacy: Yes, in a way, there is. The fact of the matter is that in a candidates’ job market, the candidates have the leverage. More specifically, the top candidates have the most leverage. That’s because they have the most options.

Right now in the Animal Health industry and Veterinary profession, there is a lack of qualified candidates for many open positions. This is especially true in the Veterinary profession. This means that employers have a lot of open positions, but not a lot of qualified candidates to fill those positions. That translates to limited options and limited leverage.

Now let’s flip over to the candidate side of things. Since high-quality candidates are in demand and there are a lot of open positions and employment opportunities, those candidates have more options. And since they have a lot of options, that also means they have a lot of leverage.

Sharita: And when you have more leverage, it means you can move from a position of strength as opposed to a position of weakness?

Stacy: That’s exactly right. So when you get right down to it, the unpleasant reality that employers have to accept in this market is that they no longer have the leverage. They certainly don’t have the leverage when it comes to filling their open positons with top candidates. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. That’s because it’s top candidates who have the leverage. They have more options, and they’re the ones who can operate from a position of strength.

Sharita: And because of that, employers must invest more time, energy, and effort into engaging candidates during the hiring process?

Stacy: That’s absolutely correct. Although some employers and hiring managers may think they shouldn’t have to expend the extra effort, they don’t really have many good options if they want to consistently hire the best candidates. In the long run, it’s well worth the effort.

Sharita: That makes a lot of sense. Stacy, thanks so much for all of this great information today.

Stacy: Thank you, Sharita. I look forward to our next podcast!