7.30.10 Issue #438 Forward This Newsletter To A Colleague

Don’t Hire Until You Do This
by Sally McKenzie CEO
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It’s an interesting paradox of these economic times. Although the unemployment rate nationwide continues to be quite high and it would seem that the job market would be flooded with able candidates, according to a recent Manpower survey, talent shortages remain a problem. In some cases, employers have become so rigid in what they will accept that some very good, albeit not perfect, candidates are never even considered. The challenge is that the people available and the skills required by employers do not match up, particularly as businesses seek greater specificity in the skill set. In other words, there may be plenty of talent, but it’s not the right talent available in the right place at the right time. For these employers, flexibility is an issue.

However, for dentists, the opposite is too often the case. Dentists typically are so flexible in their hiring practices, they make Gumby look rigid. When a vacancy occurs in the practice, it is common for dentists to focus almost solely on filling the position and give little consideration to the long-term quality of the hire, or the specificity of the skills required – particularly if the hire is going to be a business employee.

They may zero-in on one line of the resume that indicates a sliver of past dental office experience and consider this applicant to be “the one.” Yet they will disregard a multitude of red flags, such as gaps in the resume or frequent job changes. Dentists commonly disregard recommendations to check out references. Too often they are driven by one primary goal: How quickly can I get someone, anyone, in here.

Little or no consideration is given to assessing the likelihood that this person will succeed in the position or what impact the individual will have on the success of the practice over time - or in other words, the “quality of the hire.” That being said, hiring failures can cost a fortune. The figure commonly tossed about to fill a vacancy is 1.5 times the position’s annual salary. But if the new hire doesn’t work out and you’re filling the position again six or maybe nine months later, you’re looking at doubling the cost - not to mention the frustration. All the more reason why focusing greater attention on the quality of the hire, rather than merely filling the slot, is tremendously important.

Take steps now to ensure that when the next employee turns in a two-week’s notice, you’re not spiraling into panic mode and scrambling to merely fill the position. Establish a well-defined hiring procedure. One of the key components of this hiring procedure is clearly defined job descriptions for every position in your practice. Keep in mind that when an opening occurs, that is the opportunity to closely look at the position and update and/or refine the job description to better address the continually changing needs of the office. That being said, a staff opening isn’t the time to be creating the job description from scratch.

And please don’t utter this tired line: “But I don’t like job descriptions because they box people in.” If that’s your excuse for not having job descriptions, I can assure you that your practice also lacks accountability. There are likely significant system breakdowns, and you are losing money hand over fist. What’s more, if you’re looking for quality applicants to fill the position - not just a warm body - they expect to see a job description. The candidate will want details of precisely what the job entails and the expectations. Vague generalizations about the position that appear in the classified ads will not satisfy a quality applicant.

Speaking of ads, your hiring procedure also should include an advertising strategy. Consider the type of applicant you want to attract and target your ad to appeal to that particular audience. Place your ad in publications and on websites where prospective candidates are likely to see it. Look well beyond the local paper; consider online newsletters geared toward business employees, management staff, as well as the usual dental publications targeting assistants and dental hygienists.

Screen candidates first by narrowing down the applicants to those you are most interested in. From there, conduct phone interviews. Be sure that in the phone interviews you ask all of the applicants the same basic questions. Pay attention to tone of voice, word usage and grammar. You should now have pared the list down to only those you are most interested in interviewing face-to-face.

Next week, finding the “quality hire.”

Interested in speaking to Sally about your practice concerns? Email her at sallymck@mckenziemgmt.com. Interested in having Sally speak to your dental society or study club? Click here.

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