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6.9.06 Issue #222

Burned by a Bad Hire? Strategies to Steer Clear

Sally McKenzie, CEO
The McKenzie Company

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No matter how superior your clinical skills, how technologically advanced your practice, how stress-free your schedule, it only takes one bad employee to undermine it all.  That’s a frightening reality particularly when you consider that about every 18 months most dentists are staring at yet another “two weeks notice.” And as virtually every dentist has come to realize, a seemingly rock-solid resume and practical skills offer no assurance that the person you hire will prove to be the excellent candidate you interview.

Worse yet, bad hires are a big drain on practice finances. Estimates range between 1.5 to 5 times their annual salary, and that doesn’t begin to measure the cost of strained patient relations and crumbling staff morale.

While there’s little question that the hiring process causes dental teams, particularly doctors, stress and consternation, it’s not all doom, gloom, and woe. Hiring or replacing an employee offers an excellent opportunity. It’s an ideal time to fine tune and, if necessary, overhaul systems. Charge into this occasion for change as you would a comprehensive treatment plan – with a deliberate strategy and a total commitment to achieving the best possible outcome.

First, look for quality candidates even when you’re not hiring. If you experience exceptional service, whether you’re at the gym, a restaurant, or other business, give the person delivering that service your business card and invite them to send a resume, which you will keep on file. Create a “Join Our Team” section on your website that tells prospective employees about what sets your practice apart and enables them to submit resumes for future consideration.

Network. Connect with friends, colleagues, patients, local dental societies, vendors, and others whose opinion you respect and ask them for employee referrals. Contact area business schools, hygiene programs, and assisting programs and ask faculty to refer those candidates that would best represent their programs.

Update or write a job description for the position and tailor it to attract the employee you need. This is a simple yet critical tool in the hiring process. It clarifies what skills the applicant must possess, explains what duties they will perform, and it assures that you will have a clear objective when considering each candidate’s credentials. If you know exactly what you are looking for, you will be much less likely to just settle for the first living, breathing being to walk through the door.

Sell the position through effective ads. Focus on the potential applicant’s wants; tell the reader what’s in it for them. In writing the ad, remember: money motivates. Use salary to get the reader’s attention. Your headline should give the position title and the salary range, “Administrative Assistant $20,000-$25,000.”

Think about what your ideal candidates are looking for and use wording that will appeal to your “audience.” Dental auxiliaries, for example, typically have five primary objectives when searching for a position: 1) Salary, 2) Benefits, 3) Location,  4) Hours, 5) Status of the position. Highlight all of those in your advertising. Clinical Assistants are looking for more responsibility than just passing instruments. Hygienists are likely to be attracted to treatments and advanced equipment advertised such as, “Become our interceptive periodontal therapist. Voice activated perio charting and intraoral camera.”

Keep the text of the ad simple, but answer the reader’s questions – position title, job scope, duties, responsibilities, benefits, application procedures, financial incentives, and location. Use active verbs and clear descriptions, for example, “Self starter with organizational and communication skills to manage patient and business activities in a progressive eastside dental practice. No prior dental experience required. Professional training provided. 36-hour week. Excellent benefit package. Fax confidential resume to 341-8458 or email to”

Offer the option of faxing, mailing, or emailing a resume and calling to inquire further about the position. The phone number enables the applicant to ensure they aren’t applying to their current employer. Direct prospects to your website to learn more about your practice and the position.

Next week, finding the best applicant from all those resumes.

Interested in speaking to Sally about your practice concerns? Email her at

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McKenzie Management's Seminar Schedule
  June 8-9 Santa Barbara, CA - The Art of Endodontics Sally McKenzie  
  July 20 Del Mar, CA - Ortho Symposium * Sally McKenzie  
  July 26 San Diego, CA - San Diego Womens Dental Society Nancy Haller  
  Aug. 2-6 Denver, CO - Academy of General Dentistry * Sally McKenzie  
  Aug 10-11 Santa Barbara, CA - The Art of Endodontics Sally McKenzie  
  Sept. 15-17 San Francisco, CA - California Dental Association * Sally McKenzie  
  Sept. 21-22 Santa Barbara, CA - The Art of Endodontics Sally McKenzie  
  Sept. 29-30 Oviedo, Spain - Clinica Sicilia Sally McKenzie  
  Oct. 7-8 Krakow, Poland - UNO Dental Sally McKenzie  
  Nov. 8 San Diego, CA - San Diego Womens Dental Society Sally McKenzie  
  Nov. 17 Concord, NH - New Hampshire Dental Society Sally McKenzie  
  Dec. 7-8 Santa Barbara, CA - The Art of Endodontics Sally McKenzie  
* McKenzie Management will be exhibiting at this location
- Click here for a complete listing of upcoming events -

McKenzie Management
A Division of The McKenzie Company, Inc.

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