Four Hiring Headaches & How To Make Them Go Away

An empty chair representing an employment vacancy

I speak on the subject of recruitment to delegates at conferences all over the world. 

At the top of each session, I usually ask the room what were the biggest hiring challenges they had. I thought it would be useful to share some of their responses with you, here are the top four:

1.     Finding candidates that meet our culture.

2.     Not getting enough candidates.

3.     Getting too many candidates.

4.     Not attracting crazy people.

If you are struggling with some of these issues to then I hope you might get some benefit from the solutions I have recommended below.

How can I find candidates that meet our culture?

To help find candidates that meet your culture it is important to depict what your culture is accurately from the start. 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 warmth and personality.

How can I get more candidates to apply?

If you aren’t getting enough quality candidates applying for a role then two 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. Simply put, if the job you’re offering sucks or is paid below market average then you are always going to struggle to attract good candidates.  A chronically poor response rate is an indicator of a poor job or possibly a poor reputation.

How do I reduce the burden when too many people apply?

Getting too many candidates applying is often a problem with customer service jobs and is an issue because dealing with the volume of data, sifting CVS, emailing out the yes and no email responses is very time-consuming.

Writing as detailed, descriptive and honest job advert as possible will reduce the number of responses. Adding the hourly rate will also stop people from applying who want more cash than you are offering.

Though this will reduce the workload, the best possible solution is to direct all applicants to some online aptitude 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. And you really don’t want these people working for you if they aren’t even prepared to do some basic screening tests.

How can I avoid hiring toxic people who cause huge problems in my team? 

My attendees use many words to describe people who cause major disruption. By and large, they are referring to people with serious workplace behavioural issues. Often these people are very poor at managing their emotions or internal storytelling narrative. You might know them as Disruptive Doris’s, Angry Adams or Negative Nellies.  They are hard to handle and cause many managers (and teams) sleepless nights.

Often what’s missing are the skills of emotional intelligence. Specifically, I mean, emotional awareness and emotional control. People who have these skills in abundance tend to have better life outcomes. (If this is news then it worth going very deep on this subject – we’ve built the principles into the fabric of our teaching in the VetX communities.) 

The importance of emotionally intelligent team members is well documented and relatively easy to test for. It is highly 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. These tests are easy to deliver and cost very little. Doing so could save you a lot of toxic strife in the future.

Invest In The Right Skills

The labour market is not an easy place for practice right now with application rates at an all-time low. Leaders who invest in their recruitment skills are likely to create a competitive advantage over their competition. I hope your interest is piqued and you can put the strategies above to good use. 


This article was written by Dr Zachary Lederhosen. Dr Zach is a small animal clinician and independent practice owner based in New South Wales, Australia. He is one of the guides within the VetX:Thrive community.

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