From the VetPartners Experts: 5 Ways to Attract the Perfect Associate Veterinarian for Your Practice

Apr 5, 2019 at 12:20 pm
Stacy Pursell, CPS, CERS

Hiring veterinary talent in this market is challenging, to say the least, and it’s challenging for many reasons. Two of the biggest factors contributing to this challenge: We’re in a candidate’s job market, and the unemployment rate is extremely low in the veterinary profession. These factors result in the following realities of the marketplace:

  1. Because of the scarcity of talent, qualified candidates are difficult to find.
  2. Even when a practice owner or manager can find qualified candidates, those candidates are difficult to attract.

These realities underscore the challenges that exist in the marketplace. Despite these challenges, however, you still must hire. And, you still must hire well if you hope to remain competitive. With this in mind, here are five ways to attract (and hire) the perfect associate veterinarian for your practice:

#1: Make sure your talent pool is deep and wide.

The first step in being able to attract the perfect associate veterinarian is being able to identify the perfect candidate. That being said, finding and identifying the perfect candidate is not the same as successfully hiring that candidate. That’s where the attraction part of the equation enters the picture.

In the employment marketplace, including within the veterinary profession, there are active job seekers and there are passive candidates. As their name implies, active job seekers are actively looking for a new job. Passive candidates, on the other hand, are not. However, they would consider a new opportunity if it was clearly better than the job they have now.

If you only have active job seekers in your talent pool, then your pool is relatively shallow and narrow. You need both active job seekers and passive candidates to have a deep, wide, and rich talent pool.

#2: Write a job description that is accurate and exciting.

As you can see, there are two important aspects of the job description. First, it must be accurate. After all, you don’t want candidates to be operating under any false assumptions regarding the position. Writing an inaccurate job description increases the chances that you won’t find the candidate who fits the job perfectly, but it also increases the chances that you’ll turn candidates off after they find out the job isn’t exactly what they thought it was.

Second, the job description must be exciting because that is how you attract candidates. You want them to be excited about joining your organization. It’s more difficult to do this if you don’t pay attention to crafting the job description in the proper way.

#3: Engage all candidates in a positive fashion during the hiring process.

This is a difficult step because it requires a tremendous investment of time, energy, and effort. However, it’s a necessary step. If you don’t engage candidates effectively, they will drop out of the hiring process.

The key to the effective engagement of candidates is respect, and there are two main areas in which respect plays a role. First, you must respect a candidate’s time. This means you can’t hold marathon interview sessions, make candidates go through three or four rounds of interviews, or both. Second, you must respect confidentiality. Remember, top candidates are employed. The last thing they want is for their boss to discover that they’re interviewing with another veterinary practice.

#4: Hire for soft skills and cultural fit.

The perfect candidate, of course, has all the requisite technical skills necessary for the position. But that’s only one aspect you should consider. The two others are soft skills and cultural fit.

Soft skills are often what separates good candidates from great candidates. That’s because those candidates who possess such skills as active listening, the art of persuasion, and emotional intelligence are more likely to evolve into leaders and contribute to a positive culture within the organization.

#5: Make a compelling offer of employment.

If you’ve reached this stage of the process with your perfect candidate, you must make the best offer you possibly can. Do not low-ball the candidate in terms of compensation and/or benefits.

I use the word “compelling” because your offer should compel the candidate to accept it, regardless of how many other practices with which the candidate might be interviewing. Remember: If this is truly a perfect associate veterinarian candidate, chances are good that other practices are also pursuing this person. A candidate of this caliber is not going to accept anything less than the absolute best offer you can make.

As you can see, attracting the perfect associate veterinarian candidate is just half of the process. The other half is doing what’s necessary to hire that person. Because, if you don’t hire, what was the point of going to all the trouble of attracting the candidate in the first place?

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Stacy Pursell, CPC, CERS, is a workplace/workforce expert and an award-winning executive recruiter serving the animal health industry and veterinary profession for 22 years. Stacy was a National Top Ten Account Executive and Pacesetter for one of the world’s largest executive search firms and the #1 recruiter in the Southwest region of the United States before starting her own firm in 2004. Stacy is the founder and CEO of The VET Recruiter, a globally respected search firm. Known as a trailblazer, Stacy founded the first search firm to exclusively serve the animal health, pet, and veterinary industries. Prior to focusing on the animal health, pet, and veterinary industries, Stacy specialized in placing executives for Fortune 500 companies. She also recruited for human hospitals and placed professionals in the broadcast television industry, including television producers for a major cable TV network. She placed CPA’s with a Big 5 Public Accounting Firm and recruited for a natural gas company, a computer software company, a leading provider of fiber based communications services, and in the fashion industry for one of the biggest names in fashion. She is a certified personnel consultant (CPC) and a member of an elite group of search professionals who have passed this challenging exam to show her commitment to the advancement of professional and ethical standards and to the quality of the work performed in the search profession. Stacy served as a volunteer board member for the National Association of Personnel Services (NAPS) for four years and is a preferred member of Top Echelon. She has won numerous awards in the search and recruiting industry over the years and is in the top 1% of executive recruiters worldwide. She was a 2014 and 2017 Finalist for Pet Industry Woman of the Year recognized by Women in the Pet Industry. In addition to being a certified personnel consultant, Stacy is a certified employee retention specialist (CERS) and a member of an elite group of about 30 search professionals who have passed this challenging exam. Finding and retaining employees is the #1 concern of employers in today’s marketplace and this certification helps Stacy’s clients become better at retaining their employees in order for them to have a competitive advantage in the marketplace. Stacy is a member of Vet Partners and has been an invited speaker to a number of veterinary conferences. She writes articles about the animal health and veterinary job market and career related topics.

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