jobs & recruiting

3 Steps to Hiring Better in Veterinary Medicine

5 min read
FYI: This article is part of the veterinary culture manifesto — a set of guiding principles to create better culture in vet med.
Read & sign the veterinary culture manifesto here.
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Job vacancies in the United States are at a 20 year high — and vet med isn’t immune. In fact, Vet staff is turning over at a weighted average 33%, a rate far outpacing the national average. 

So, how can you hire faster, better, stronger? 

*cue daft punk*

To shed some light on this, we teamed up with Alina Smith, Talent Acquisition Specialist at Blue River Pet Care. Alina has almost 10 years of experience in the veterinary and animal welfare industry, focusing mostly on recruitment and talent acquisition. She’s kind of an expert 😉

Together, we developed 3 tactical steps to hire better:

1. Create Quality Job Descriptions

“In my opinion,” Alina says, “an excellent job description is one that reflects the practice at the core. Easier said than done when ideally, it should also be as concise as possible! I encourage practices to think like the candidate.”

So, let’s take her advice! Pretend you’re a vet tech looking for a new job. You go on to a job board, click on a relevant position, and then all of a sudden you’re bombarded with a wall of text. No paragraph breaks. No bullet points. Just a wall of text.

Likely you’d be thinking: 

So, how do you avoid this reaction from candidates?

To Alina, practices should, “consider focusing on the ‘wants’ – this list is likely full of things that set you apart. Then provide the remaining information and the ‘needs’ in a short, easy-to-read format.”

Wants: Showcase your practice

Do you have special perks? Exceptional culture? Great professional development? When writing your job descriptions and postings, the first question you should answer is:

What makes you different than the 10 other practices in your area offering the same compensation?

You must answer this to stand out to talent — otherwise, you’ll blend into the background.

Needs: Clearly list expectations, pay, and hours

The first thing all job seekers look for is compensation. It’s how they know it will be worth applying (and if it’s worth it for you to interview them and put them through the process.)

Hiding pay, expectations, or hours or burying them in the job description shapes their first impression of you. Trust goes both ways. If you hope for a candidate to be upfront about their experience and expectations, you should give them the same level of transparency.

Keep the content short & sweet

Let’s be real, often veterinary staff jobs are fairly similar from practice to practice — veterinary talent knows what to expect in the job. Point out the unique quirks of your practice and keep the rest succinct. In terms of formatting, here are some quick, specific tips:

  • Keep paragraphs less than 3 sentences
  • Use bullet points and any formatting available at your disposal to break up the text
  • Avoid jargon like “fast-paced” and “rockstar” out. (We all know it’s fast-paced, ya know?)

2. Hire Fast

“The candidate experience is often where I find the most room for improvement,” Alina explains. “Practices should aim to move efficiently through the screening, interview, and offer stages and communicate with candidates along the way.”

Move applicants efficiently through the process

On average in the United States, the average interview process length is around 23 days. 

Take a look at your recent hires. How long were they in the recruitment process? 

If the number of days is north of this number, you’re falling behind your competition, and they’re likely scooping up your most qualified candidates.

But, besides the statistics, think back to the last time you had to go through the application process. The stress of not knowing when your next paycheck may come, and the anxiety of whether or not you have to keep looking. Pair that with today’s rising cost of living, the longer this process drags on, the more stressed candidates become. And, that’s likely not how you want to start your relationship with an employee.

Follow up with rejected applicants

In Alina’s experience, “so many forget to stay in touch, but transparency is key. A candidate who may not be a good fit today may be a great fit in the future and you want them to remember the positive experience!”

Vet med always talks about how small the talent pool is. So, take a few extra moments to respect your applicants by reaching out to those you reject. That way, you don’t burn any bridges and your talent pool doesn’t get even smaller.

3. Retain & Incentivize Current Employees

Foster a quality culture

A small water leak can easily turn into thousands of dollars in damage. The same is true for culture and retention. Contrary to what clickbait articles may lead you to believe, the “great resignation” isn’t about employees not wanting to work, they just want to work for quality teams and environments.

Remember that turnover rate of 33% we mentioned at the start? By focusing on culture, your turnover rate will decrease — making it so you can hire for quality as opposed to hiring from a place of desperation.

If you don’t focus on culture, it creates a flood of problems, often resulting in high staff turnover, employee dissatisfaction, and hampered business performance.

Want to learn more about how to create an awesome culture? Check out our Ultimate Guide for Awesome Culture in Veterinary Medicine.

Create a referral and/or boomerang program

Alina’s number one bit of advice for practices that want to hire faster?

“Institute a referral and/or boomerang program! Our industry is small and the perfect hire may be just outside your personal network. Incentivizing current employees can help boost referrals, which is often the quickest way to hire.”

“Not to mention, those referred have greater levels of satisfaction and retention.

“Building upon this, a boomerang program can attract previous, high-caliber employees. Many employment relationships end amicably – whether it’s a personal life change, interest in growth opportunities, or similar. If a previous employee has potential for rehire and is a solid cultural fit, they could bring back a wealth of new knowledge and experience.”

Start hiring better & faster 😎

You can’t slow down the job market, but you can work to stand out from the competition, hire quality people quickly, and retain the awesome people you already have.

Want a sidekick in hiring and recruiting? Hound is a new approach to recruiting and hiring veterinary teams. Check out more here.