The ‘Must Have Skill’ for Your Next Hire
I had to chuckle when I recently read a doctor’s “want ad” online. The dentist said he had experienced some “staffing issues” lately. That’s a charitable way of putting it. In fact, if the local temping agency he used awarded customer loyalty incentives, he no doubt would have earned a “full-time free employee” by now.
While there were many telling signs that things were not as they should be, the ad for a “receptionist” was particularly revealing. “Busy dental practice seeks part-time receptionist to work 2-3 days per week. MUST know Dentrix.” It didn’t say DENTRIX experience preferred or a plus, it said, “MUST know DENTRIX.” Keep in mind the job posting was for a receptionist, yet the ad made no mention of excellent communication skills. It didn’t suggest that the ability to work with people would be important. The ad said nothing about the culture of the office, such as “Growing dental office seeks people-person to join our excellent team.” The ad didn’t promote the part-time schedule as a benefit or speak to any other benefits that might appeal to a prospective employee.
This doctor had one primary objective for this position: technical skill in a particular software program. I couldn’t help but wonder how many excellent candidates would never apply for the position because they don’t have the specific software experience being sought. Or how many good candidates would take the chance and apply for the position but be summarily dismissed because they didn’t list DENTRIX experience on their résumés.
The doctor suffered from hiring tunnel vision, and it wasn’t just this position. He had “staffing issues” across the board. It’s a common mistake that dentists make. They are so focused on specific skills, they can’t see potential. Nor can they see what the practice truly needs in terms of quality employees. They don’t build teams, they fill jobs. They hire staff; they fire staff; they gain staff; they lose staff. They are in a seemingly perpetual state of staffing turmoil.
Certainly, there are some positions that require very specific skill sets. But in others, technical skills such as a software program can be taught - aptitude and attitude cannot. Similarly, many dentists strongly believe that prospective employees must have “dental practice experience.” Consequently, they won’t consider that applicants from other sectors bring valuable fresh perspectives to the table, are more likely to be open and eager to learn, and they are less likely to grow bored quickly.
We’ve seen blockbuster dental teams that offer a mix of backgrounds and experiences. These groups are led by doctors who understand that hiring for attitude and culture fit in the practice, in some cases, will outweigh technical proficiency. But here’s the tradeoff: Hiring for attitude and aptitude takes time. Why? Because you are looking for more in this person than merely a list of specific skills. The temptation is always to get a body in the position.
One candidate may appear to be the “whole package” on paper. She brings plenty of dental practice experience. She has specific skills that the office is looking for, but she interviews with something of a chip on her shoulder. Another candidate brings a lot to the table as well, and although her skill set is outside what the practice is specifically looking for, she is eager to learn. She is bright and personable.
Doctors can easily convince themselves that the first candidate will hit the ground running. They tell themselves this person won’t need the upfront investment of time and training. They disregard the little “attitude quirks.” The first candidate may be looking at the position as just another job. She’s done all this before, no challenge here. It’s also likely she will have “her way” of doing things. “This is how we did it in the last office.” The other candidate is more likely to ask “How would you like this handled,” and will see it as an opportunity to grow and learn. Which employee would you want?Let me be clear, you wouldn’t hire an employee purely on the fact that she has a good personality. Ideally the candidate has a solid foundation of skills, is a good fit for your practice, is an avid learner who seeks opportunities that stretch her skills, and has a good attitude. Given that, a little extra time training her to be your ideal employee may be well worth it.
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