What Staffing Shortage? How to Hire New Team Members During the Veterinary Staffing Crisis
Any time a veterinary practice manager mentions hiring new staff, you likely think to yourself, “Good luck! It’s practically impossible!” In the midst of the ongoing veterinary staffing shortage, it is difficult to find and retain qualified, talented team members. In addition, the Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts that the job outlook for veterinarians should grow by 17% between 2020 and 2030, which is much faster than average. As veterinarians leave the field for a multitude of reasons, practices will continue to feel the strain of stretched-thin staff. However, by upping your hiring game and improving your practice visibility, you can snag top talent whenever you have an open position. Here are five sure-fire tips to help you round out your veterinary team.
#1: Recruit fresh graduates from your local university
If your practice is near a local university or community college, reach out to new graduates. Although you may not have a veterinary school near you, you still can find veterinary assistants, kennel attendants, and CSRs among recent graduates who are animal lovers. Send job ads to animal science and business management professors to share with their students because people taking these courses can make excellent support team members. Think outside the box when recruiting from a local college. For example, a recent graduate may decide veterinary medicine is the ideal career path and go on to take additional courses to become a credentialed technician or licensed veterinarian. Having a tuition assistance program for these team members also can be attractive to potential new hires, plus it can give your current team an incentive to advance their education.
#2: Place an ad with professional veterinary associations
Professional veterinary associations are filled with passionate people devoted to pursuing their career and are an excellent place to find the cream of the crop. These potential candidates tend to be committed to professional development and have the certified skills, education, and experience to make them ideal new hires. Ensure your hiring manager is actively promoting your practice within these organizations. Your manager also can act as a headhunter, connecting with people you would like to have in your practice. An impressive benefits package, workplace culture, and positive work-life balance can be appealing enough to lure top talent to your team.
#3: Design an appealing benefits package
When seeking new hires for your team, remember that it is a candidate’s market right now, meaning they can afford to be choosy about where they work. Make your veterinary practice a place they can’t turn down by maxing out your benefits package. Irresistible benefits include:
- An appropriate work-life balance (e.g., fewer hours, no late hours or weekends, longer hours over fewer days)
- Student debt repayment
- CE and educational stipends
- 401(k) matching
- Health, dental, vision, and life insurance
- Signing bonus
- Relocation assistance
- Mentors for new hires and graduates
- Mental and physical health wellness programs
- Scrub allowance
- Enforced breaks and lunchtime
- Production- or skill-based bonuses
The sky’s the limit when designing an appealing benefits package. However, keep in mind that offering a much higher salary or substantially better benefits to new hires while ignoring your current team can breed resentment and cause them to leave.
#4: Listen to what your job candidates want
The best way to become the most attractive veterinary practice for job candidates is to listen to what they want and fill those wishes. Does an associate veterinarian want a four-day workweek with longer days? Does a CSR need to come in late because of child care, but is happy to work partial days every day? Is a new grad willing to accept a lower salary if they have help repaying their student loans? When interviewing potential candidates, ask them what is most important to them in a job position. You may find gaps in your benefits package that are causing potential candidates to choose another practice over yours.
#5: Set your practice apart from the crowd in your job listing
Job candidates want to know what makes your veterinary practice special, which is where highlighting perks outside of your benefits package comes into play. Is your practice 10 minutes away from the beach? Is your practice known for advanced certifications, such as AAHA accreditation, Fear Free, or Feline Friendly? Showcasing your culture, mission, medicine, and working environment can help draw in candidates who are trying to choose between two generous benefits packages. Go the extra mile to show off your practice and team by creating a video, similar to our VSS recruiting video, that highlights your fun culture.
Despite your best efforts, it still may be challenging to find enough job candidates to fill your open positions. If your candidate pool has slim pickings, consider hiring relief staff to get you through until you can land a new hire. Contact our Veterinary System Services team to learn more about how our relief staffing service works.
Brad’s love for animals and exposure to working with them has come in many forms, and spanned decades. From volunteer work, that includes 5 years with the Denver Dumb Friends League, to countless hours being a victim for Search and Rescue dogs, or a chew toy for police dogs, he has a passion for working with animals. In college, Brad worked for a small, three-doctor practice cleaning kennels. Before starting VSS, he spent almost 10 years as an inventory manager for one of the state’s largest animal hospitals. He has seen this industry from many angles.