If you’re simply running ads and waiting for people to apply for your open positions, you may be struggling to find good applicants. In today’s competitive environment, a passive recruiting strategy will not help you find the best people, much less get them to work for you.
We’ve found that many dental practices devote only 10% to 20% of someone’s time to recruiting. No one is taught how to improve, and no one is allowed the time to effectively develop good recruiting processes. Yet the entire office relies on that 10% to 20% of one person’s time.
Many good people are on the hunt for a new position. They may have lost their job or want a change to something that fits better with their priorities. Effectively recruiting these people requires a reasonable amount of time and effort and using strategies that have proven to be successful, not necessarily easy. I’m known for practicing what I preach in terms of using the same strategies I share with my clients. The following strategies are highly successful when it comes to recruiting the people you need to help run a thriving business.
Separate recruiting from human resources
Human resources (HR) is a comprehensive segment of all businesses and has become more daunting through the years. Those who make a mistake with the compliance and legal aspects may regret ever going into business. Recruiting is typically considered an HR function, and as a result, it tends to get lost in the shuffle or disseminated throughout the organization. For example, the hygiene team leader is responsible for hiring and firing hygienists, and the same is true for the assistant team lead, front desk team lead, and so on. No one is given the time or resources to learn what to do and how to do it well.
It’s time to change your mindset. Unless you’re such a large multipractice business that it makes sense for you to have one or more HR specialists, consider separating the recruiting function. Assign the role to one individual and set that person up for success. Then outsource to a highly reputable HR service to handle compliance, contracts, payroll, and taxes—all the things that will get the boss in big trouble if they’re not done exactly right and on time.
If you think you should hire an additional person to handle in-house recruiting, you might be surprised. As long as the recruiter can confer with the third-party expert on the technicalities, you may already have someone on staff who’s a natural recruiter. The most important characteristic is to have the personality of a promoter—someone who can sell others on why your practice is a great place to work. They may even already have a track record of referring friends and tapping their network.
This person may be reluctant to take an HR role for which they feel unqualified, so be sure to make their responsibilities clear. The right person will appreciate the development opportunity and will enjoy getting to do the fun and creative aspects of HR.
They will work with you and the team to anticipate needs, define clear job descriptions and appropriate compensation plans, note advertising and marketing opportunities, proactively seek out candidates, and interview and vet candidates, including checking references and reviewing social media pages for red flags.
Depending on the size of your business, the recruiter’s role can be part time. But, it should not be less than 50% or you risk sending the message that recruiting will always be of secondary importance, constantly taking a backseat to other responsibilities.
Never run a job ad
Strike "Run a job ad" from your vernacular. Replace it with “Market a career opportunity in our unique business.” When you post a job ad titled hygienist, dental assistant, front desk/receptionist, associate doctor, etc., you put yourself in competition with countless other employers trying to attract the same people.
Given the multitude of generic ads for these positions, an applicant will often choose based on salary and perhaps proximity to their home. Is that why you want people to apply? I hope not. So, you should share more information that will attract the kind of talent you want, and that takes some thought.
If your practice has a vision or mission statement, you’ve already thought about why you’re in business—besides earning a decent living for yourself and your family. Today’s top talent is interested in much more than money. They want to enjoy coming to work, perform meaningful work, and be part of an organization that contributes to the community. They also want a boss who genuinely cares about and listens to his or her employees, invests in training and development, and provides growth opportunities. In addition, considering one of the largest job-seeking groups these days is young mothers, flexibility is also important.
These are all things that define your culture and make your business unique. Culture cannot be duplicated by the person or DSO down the street. Your culture is your biggest competitive advantage, which means it’s also your biggest recruiting advantage. Use it to sell the position and opportunity you’re offering.
Leverage the right marketplaces
Once you shift your mindset from “posting an ad” to “marketing your opportunity,” you need to choose the marketplaces likely to deliver the best results. Next month I’ll discuss the “Big 3” that have proven successful for my company and thousands of independent practice owners like you.
In the meantime, look around your office and identify the employee who has the personality of a recruiter. Talk to them about the opportunity and value they would bring to the organization, then share this article so they can understand the job. By the time my next article runs, they should be ready to add my recommendations to their own!
Editor's note: This article appeared in the January 2022 print edition of Dental Economics.