Raise your hand if you are struggling to hire team members. If it feels like all of the quality candidates have disappeared. Almost everyone? You’re not alone.

Raise your hand if you are searching for team members by posting a typical job description on a hiring board or hoping an agency will refer one to you. Almost everyone, again? Not surprising.

Now, raise your hand if you’re getting unqualified applicants, decent applicants who no-show the interview, or qualified applicants who are asking for a higher wage than you can afford to pay.

I figured as much. The struggle to hire is real.

There’s a Better Way to Find Candidates

If your ‘spray and pray’ method of recruiting candidates isn’t working, maybe it’s time to change your tactics. In the book “Fully Staffed,” Eric Chester suggests a better strategy. He recommends employers stop “fishing” for candidates and start “hunting” for them.

How do you hunt for candidates in a labor market that is in crisis? Where all the qualified candidates seem to have disappeared… or are working down the street because they were offered an outrageous sign-on bonus? While it’s likely contributing to the current employment crisis, not everyone is sitting at home drawing unemployment checks. Many employees have left the dental profession to pursue careers in other industries that offer flexibility in schedule and remote work or have started their own businesses. You’re not just competing against other dental practices for talent anymore, so how do you set yourself apart as an employer?

Here are a few strategies:

✔ Update Your Online Recruiting

If your online recruiting consists of simply posting a job on Indeed and waiting for candidates, it’s time for an update.

– Does your website have a Careers page that candidates can visit to explore your brand?

– Are you using an Applicant Tracking System to push job posts to more sites and filter applicants based on qualifications?- Have you posted your jobs to your social media page?

✔ Marketing Isn’t Just for Patients

By now, most dentists are dialed into their target patient demographics. They’ve created their Ideal Client Avatars and built a marketing strategy around them. Why aren’t you doing the same for your potential hires?

– Think about your Ideal Employee for the available position and determine what qualities you’re looking for. Make a list.

– Use your Ideal Employee List to narrow possibilities of where you can search for this person. Need someone with customer service skills for a position who is used to working hard and that you can train for the dental stuff? Look at candidates in the hospitality and catering industries. Bonus points for you, because you’ll likely be offering them a job with better hours and a more stable schedule.

– Think outside the box. Local job fairs, veterans hiring organizations, and schools are full of candidates searching for opportunities.

✔ You Don’t Know Who You Don’t Know… But Your Team Might!

Share your Ideal Employee List with your team members so they can be on the lookout for potential candidates. Offer a referral bonus to an employee who supplies the candidate you hire, with payouts at 3, 6, 9, and 12 months (if the candidate stays).

✔ Elevate Your Candidate Experience

Candidates aren’t impressed when they send their application out into the void and don’t hear anything from you for weeks. They also aren’t impressed when they have to jump through hoops to apply for a job – especially if you’re trying to draw them in by “hunting.” Quality candidates know they have options, so when they’re asked to upload a resume, then fill out a four-page application, take a 25-question quiz, submit a 1-minute video answering 3 questions, and provide five professional references – all before a pre-screen call! – they’re likely to opt out of applying.

– Simplify your application process. Don’t make candidates take unnecessary or repetitive steps.

– Make your application process mobile friendly! HR Dive reported in 3/2021 that 61% of all applications submitted last year were done via mobile.

– Communicate with your candidates, even ones who do not make it to the pre-screen stage.

✔ Most Important – Make Sure Your Practice Is a Place Employees Want to Work!

Employees talk, both online and in person. This can either be horrible PR for your practice, or it can be the most amazing recruiting strategy ever!

Fortune’s annual list of the 100 Best Companies to Work for does not have a single dental practice on it. There could be several reasons for this, but let’s look at these two:

1. Your employees haven’t posted anything positive about your company on employer review sites like Glassdoor, Indeed, etc.

2. Your employees have posted, but the posts weren’t positive.

Let’s assume it’s the first for a minute. Dental offices ask patients for a review after practically every visit (right?) – why aren’t you asking your employees for reviews?

The second reason digs deeper into your practice culture. Your employees should be raving fans of your practice – and when they’re not, there’s likely a reason why. Surveying your employees – either internally, or by engaging a consulting firm to manage the process – to get a pulse on what your team really thinks about your practice culture is the first step. Is there something about your practice that’s toxic to the culture? Are your employees compensated the market value for their positions? What benefits do you offer? I see too many practices that say they offer “PTO, health insurance, and 401k” – but the PTO is only 5 days after a year, health insurance is unaffordable, and the 401k takes 2 years to qualify for. That’s not likely to attract many applicants.

Quality candidates have options. They are also smart. Before they even apply to your practice, the first thing they’ll do is a Google search. What will they find? How can you help them see how awesome your practice is before they even hit Submit on an application? What image are you presenting, both internally and externally, that will drive quality candidates to your practice – and make them stay once they get there?

Raise your hand if you are ready to upgrade your hiring process.

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