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Veterinarian Hiring Challenges and How to Overcome Them

The employment marketplace has changed dramatically during the past several years. Those changes have impacted the Animal Health and Veterinary fields, including Veterinary practices and their attempts to hire veterinarians.

Simply put, it is more difficult to identify, recruit, and hire veterinarians. And when you have a situation like that, it’s more difficult to successfully run a Veterinary practice and grow and make money the way you want to and service your clients who are depending on you to provide great health care to their animals.

There are many reasons why this is the case, and they are all considered challenges when it comes to hiring veterinarians.


Veterinarian hiring challenge #1: availability of qualified candidates

Actually, that would be the lack of the availability of qualified candidates, due in part to the retirement of the Baby Boomers.

We’re currently in the midst of what is a candidates’ job market with more job openings than there are qualified people to fill all of those open jobs. In fact, according to the Labor Department, there was an all-time high of 6 million job openings in the United States in April. Not only that, but according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a 9% growth rate is expected for veterinary jobs between the years 2014 and 2024. Based upon that statistic, we’re looking at seven more years of job growth.

Since that’s the case, the organizations that employ the top professionals in the Animal Health industry and Veterinary profession want to keep those professionals as employees. That only makes sense. As a result, they do their best to make sure that these employees are happy where they are and want to stay where they are.

And even when those professionals decide that they want to grow their career and look for other employment opportunities, they have plenty of options available to them. There are more job openings then there are qualified candidates to fill them, and as a result, it is more competitive. That’s a challenge for Veterinary practice owners in the Veterinary profession.


Veterinarian hiring challenge #2: sourcing methods

Let’s say you have an open position to fill. Let’s say that you write a beautiful job advertisement for it, the best one you’ve ever written. Let’s also say you show it to your colleagues, and they agree that it’s the best job ad they’ve ever seen. Now let’s say you post it on the Internet. Guess what?

The top candidates in the market are probably still not going to apply for that job.

It has nothing to do with the job, the description, or how well the ad was constructed and presented. It has everything to do with the fact that top candidates are not looking at job ads. They probably won’t even see your beautiful job advertisement, which is an unfortunate reality after all of the work you put into creating that job ad.

According to CareerBuilder, 60% of job seekers quit in the middle of filling out online job applications. They quit due to the length and/or complexity of those applications.

Think about that for a minute. Employers, in an effort to make the application process as detailed as they can to identify the best candidates, are actually screening candidates out as a direct result of that process. In addition, there’s no guarantee that these are A-level candidates. Remember: top candidates are rarely involved in a proactive job search, if they’re involved at all.

There are two main reasons why they don’t look an online job ads. First, they don’t have the desire to conduct a job search. Again, these people are being treated well at their current employer because that employer values them. And second, they don’t have the time. Top performers are too busy being top performers to devote time to a job search, and that’s a big challenge in today’s marketplace.


Veterinarian hiring challenge #3: attracting top candidates

When it comes to top candidates, they’re not going to jump at your opportunity just because you presented it to them. Once you find the type of candidates you want to hire, you have to be able to convince them to consider your opportunity. And as I mentioned earlier, that has become more difficult because it’s a candidates’ market. These candidates have more options, and your open position is just one of them. It could be one of many.

When your position is just one of many that a top candidate is considering, it means you’re working from a position of weakness as opposed to a position of strength. In other words, you don’t “hold all the cards.” It also means that it will require a greater amount of effort in order to convince top candidates to consider your opportunity over other ones.


Veterinarian hiring challenge #4: a shortened timeframe

Suppose a top candidate is interviewing with four companies and that all four of those companies—including yours—are interested in that candidate. Now suppose your organization is seriously considering two candidates for your position, and this top candidate is one of them.

Who has more options: the candidate or your organization?

There are two main reasons why speed is important during the veterinarian hiring process. First, top talent is a rare commodity. When something is rare and is in demand, it doesn’t stay on the market that long. That’s the basic Law of Supply and Demand.

Second, candidates don’t like being part of a process that’s too long or complicated. From their perspective, they might ask themselves, “Why would I want to work for a company that moves so slowly and seems indecisive?”

As part of an employment survey that The VET Recruiter conducted a few years ago, we asked candidates about the longest amount of time they’d spend in an organization’s hiring process before bowing out. A little more 13% indicated that they would spend three weeks in the interview process, while another 15.7% said they would spend four weeks. That’s nearly 29% of candidates who would drop out of a hiring process in four weeks, tops. Then 5% said they’d drop out after five weeks, and another 23% said six weeks.

If you take too long during the hiring process, if that process is filled with a lack of communication and feedback, and if that process is bogged down in any way, the candidate might view that as a representation of your organization overall.

As a result, it’s imperative that once the A-level candidates have been presented and are officially part of the hiring process, the process should move with a healthy sense of urgency. The recommended timeframe for this is between two and four weeks.

If the process takes any longer than four weeks, the risk of losing those A-level candidates to another company rises dramatically.


Veterinarian hiring challenge #5: closing your top choice

It has become more difficult to close top candidates during the hiring process and convince them to accept an offer of employment. Once again, that’s because these candidates have more options. It’s become commonplace for them to receive two or even three offers once they decide to conduct a job search. In fact, I recently had a candidate who interviewed with seven companies and received an offer of employment from all seven!

This puts organizations at a disadvantage. It also forces them to do be careful and do everything right during the hiring process, including what we just talked about, which was make sure that it doesn’t drag out.

These are the challenges that exist in the marketplace when it comes to hiring veterinarians.


5-step plan for hiring veterinarians

As a result, Veterinary practices must have a plan to deal with these challenges so they can overcome them and hire the veterinarians they need to succeed. There are five steps involved with constructing a plan for overcoming obstacles and successfully hiring great candidates.


Step #1—Accept the realities of the job market.

The first step is to recognize and accept the realities and challenges of the current job market situation. That should be easier, now that we’ve outlined those challenges at the beginning of this presentation. Here they are once again, just to recap:

  • Top candidates are not readily available because it’s a candidates’ market.
  • Many sourcing methods for finding top candidates do not work well.
  • Attracting quality candidates once you find them is not easy.
  • If your hiring process is too long, you’ll lose top candidates.
  • It’s more difficult to convince a candidate to accept an offer of employment.

These are definitely challenges that exist in today’s marketplace. Ignoring them does not make them go away. Employers must accept their existence before they can do anything to overcome them.


Step #2—Assess your resources.

The second step is to assess your ability to deal with these realities in terms of tools and personnel. That’s because overcoming these obstacles is not easy. It requires quite a bit in the way of resources to do it. If a veterinary practice does not have the resources, it will have to figure out a way to get them. If not, they will continue to experience trouble hiring veterinarians.

That’s why veterinary practice owners should ask themselves a series of questions:

  • Who in my organization is in charge of veterinarian hiring?
  • How much of their time is devoted to veterinarian hiring?
  • How much of the practice’s budget is allocated for veterinarian hiring?
  • What sourcing tools are available?
  • What hiring resources are available?
  • Will it be possible to devote more time, energy, and money for veterinarian hiring?

These are hard questions that have to be asked and also must also be answered. However, if the questions are answered honestly, that will set the practice owner up for success.


Step #3—Devise a strategy.

This strategy is based upon the answers to the questions that were posed during the assessment. The purpose of an assessment is to help the practice owner identify ways in which to improve their process and the way in which they hire. A veterinarian hiring strategy is based upon a number of different factors. These factors include:

  • The personnel available
  • The resources available
  • The time available
  • The funds available

A Veterinary practice owner must determine what he or she has at their disposal. Then they must devise a strategy based upon that determination. As an example, a Veterinary practice owner could determine that they only have the time and resources to use job boards and LinkedIn to find candidates. Or an owner could determine that they want to rely heavily on references from current and past employees. Then, of course, there must be a strategy for the rest of the process, including screening and interviewing.

In short, a Veterinary practice owner must have a concrete strategy for identifying, recruiting, and hiring veterinarians. That’s because there is little margin for error in this current market.


Step #4—Develop a plan based upon your strategy.

Without a plan, you only have a vague idea of what you’re going to do. A plan, however, should spell in out in concrete terms what will happen. If you’ve put together a solid plan, then you’ll know the following:

  • The exact stages involved in the organization’s veterinarian hiring process
  • The exact steps that are involved in each stage
  • What is expected at each stage of the process
  • Who is responsible for what during each stage of the process
  • The resources that are available
  • Who will use the resources and how they will be used

The critical part of this plan is that everybody who is involved in it knows everything about it. They should know everything that they’re doing and everything that everybody else is doing. As I mentioned, time is of the essence and miscommunication slows everything down.

So before the plan can be implemented, you should go over it with everybody involved with it. If you don’t, then it will be more difficult for the plan to actually succeed.


Step #5—Execute your plan and track the results.

A plan is only as good as its execution. You could have the best plan in the world, but if you execute it poorly, you might as well have had a poor plan from the start. Not only that, but if you execute the plan, but then don’t measure the results, then you have no idea if what you’re doing is working. So, keep this in mind:

  • A strategy is nothing without an assessment on which to base it.
  • You can’t formulate a plan without having a strategy for that plan.
  • A good plan is only good if you execute it well.
  • You won’t know how well you’re executing the plan unless you track and measure the results.

As you can see, doing all of this requires a commitment of time, energy, and effort. Despite that, you can’t come up short in any area. They’re all interrelated and depend upon one another.

Ideally, as part of your assessment, you’ll know what resources and personnel are available. So, before you even execute the plan, you’ll know what every person is supposed to do at each stage of the process.


Veterinarian hiring with The VET Recruiter

The VET Recruiter has more than 25 years of experience helping employers in the Animal Health industry and Veterinary profession hire veterinarians.

Click here to see examples of The VET Recruiter’s placements. These are all examples of real positions that we have filled in the Animal Health industry and Veterinary profession.

We also invite you to contact us for more information regarding our recruiting process and how The VET Recruiter can help your organization identify, engage, recruit, and hire the best veterinarians in job market.

You can also call (918) 488-3901 or (800) 436-0490 or send an email to stacy@thevetrecruiter.com.

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