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Real Veterinary Hiring Problems (& Solutions)

I recently gave a talk where I asked delegates to tell me about their greatest veterinary hiring challenges, then we problem solved live to help address those issues. In case you missed it, here are the top four challenges and my solutions in summarised form.

The Top 4 Hiring Challenges

1. We struggle to find candidates that will fit with our culture. 2. Not getting enough candidates. 3. Getting too many candidates. 4. Not attracting "crazy" people.

The Solutions

1. We struggle to find candidates that will fit with our culture

If you are struggling to find candidates that will fit with your culture then you need to do one of two things. Either change your culture (very hard) or depict what your culture is accurately from the start (quite easy).

One way to do this is to infuse some personality into your job advert. Most people’s job adverts are painfully boring and look exactly like everyone else’s.

Instead, try to write about your practice accurately; using real words and phrases that you would use to describe it if you were talking to a stranger in a bar. A great way to do this is to have someone interview you about what life’s like at your practice. If you record this then you’ll find a few great phrases to weave into your job advert that will start to add some authenticity and personality.

2. Not getting enough candidates

If you aren’t getting enough quality candidates applying for a role then three factors may be holding you back. Firstly where are you posting your advert? If you’re looking for a receptionist and posting onto a clinical job board then the response rate will be poor. If you are not sure where to post your advert then call up someone you know would be good at the job and ask them where they would be looking for a new job.

Next, you should assess whether you are offering a job anyone wants to do, or be in an area anyone wants to go to? Job design inevitably has an impact on the number of people who will be attracted to a role.

If you are recruiting for a job where the jobs advertised massively outweigh the candidates applying as is frequently the case with nurses/technicians or experienced vets, then you may have to consider strengthening your offering or networking to raise awareness of your practice.

Finally, consider your reputation in the wider job market? If you are not well thought of then this will be inhibiting your ability to attract staff.

Any and all of the four above factors can be at play. The best advice is to seek feedback from your current and past employees. Scary but enormously valuable information.

3. Getting too many candidates

Getting too many candidates applying for a role is often a problem with customer service jobs or junior roles in veterinary hospitals. The issue is the enormous waste of time involved in managing large numbers of applicants. Most of whom will be a poor fit when you only have one job to offer.

Again we're going to use our job advert to help. By writing as detailed, descriptive and honest job advert as possible you will reduce the number of responses. Adding the pay rate will also stop people from applying who want more cash than you are prepared to pay.

Though this will reduce the workload, the best possible solution is to not review any CVS, but instead, direct all applicants to some online skill tests. Once you do this you will reduce the volume of applicants to about 20% of the original number. Sad but true, 80% of people who apply for a role will not do some basic tests of aptitude because they do not have the skills or they can't be bothered to put in the effort required to get a job. Either way, you've ruled out many of those people who were just not suitable to work with you.

4. Not attracting "crazy" people

By not attracting crazy people my delegates meant the "emotionally challenged" (and challenging) - those folks who struggle to interact well with those around them and cause daily relational mayhem.

The importance of emotionally intelligent team members is well documented and relatively easy to test for. I strongly recommended for you to run an emotional intelligence test on each and every person you hire to make sure they are going to be able to negotiate the many social interactions required to run a successful veterinary practice.

Who you hire is directly related to how well your practice performs and how much stress you invite into your life. That should be a very empowering thought because it means that you are in complete control of your business success and happiness.

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