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Recruitment: the key to attracting strong candidates to your firm


If you’re just posting ads and waiting for people to apply for your open positions, you may be struggling to find good candidates. In today’s competitive environment, a passive recruiting strategy won’t help you find the best people, let alone get them to work for you.

We’ve found that many dental practices only spend 10-20% of a person’s time on recruiting. No one learns how to improve and no one has the time to effectively develop good recruitment processes. Yet the whole office depends on that 10-20% of one person’s time.

Many good people are looking for a new position. They may have lost their job or want to change to something that better matches their priorities. Recruiting these people effectively requires reasonable time and effort and the use of proven, not necessarily easy, strategies. I am known for practicing what I preach using the same strategies I share with my clients. The following strategies are very effective when it comes to recruiting the people you need to run a successful business.

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Separating recruitment from human resources

Human Resources (HR) is a comprehensive segment of all businesses and has become more daunting over the years. Those who make a mistake with compliance and legalities may regret going into business. Recruitment is generally seen as an HR function and therefore tends to get lost in the mess or spread 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 leader, reception team leader, etc. No one has the time or the resources to learn what to do and how to do it well.

It’s time to change your mindset. Unless you are such a large, multidisciplinary company that it makes sense for you to have one or more HR specialists, consider separating the recruiting function. Assign the role to someone and set that person up for success. Then get a reputable HR department to handle compliance, contracts, payroll, and taxes—all things that will get the boss in big trouble if they’re not done exactly right and on time.

If you think you need to hire an extra person to handle recruitment internally, you might be surprised. As long as the recruiter can talk to the third-party expert on the technical details, you may already have someone on staff who is a natural recruiter. The most important characteristic is having the personality of a promoter – someone who can sell to others why your firm is a great place to work. They may even already have a history of referring friends and exploiting their network.

This person may be reluctant to take on an HR role they feel unqualified for, so be sure to clarify their responsibilities. The right person will appreciate the development opportunity and enjoy being able to take care of 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, score advertising and marketing opportunities, proactively source candidates, and interview and vet candidates, including by checking references and reviewing social media pages for red flags.

Depending on the size of your business, the recruiter’s role may be part-time. But, it shouldn’t be less than 50% or you risk sending the message that recruiting will always be of secondary importance, constantly taking precedence over other responsibilities.

Never post a job offer

Remove “Post a Job Posting” from your vernacular. Replace it with “Promote a career opportunity in our unique company”. When you post a job listing titled hygienist, dental assistant, receptionist, medical associate, etc., you are competing with countless other employers trying to attract the same people.

Given the multitude of generic advertisements for these positions, a candidate will often choose based on salary and perhaps proximity to 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, in addition to earning a decent living for yourself and your family. Today’s top talent cares about more than money. They want to enjoy coming to work, doing meaningful work, and being part of an organization that contributes to the community. They also want a boss who truly cares about and listens to their employees, invests in training and development, and provides opportunities for growth. Additionally, since one of the largest groups of job seekers these days are young mothers, flexibility is also important.

These are all things that define your culture and make your business unique. The culture cannot be duplicated by the person or DSO around the corner. Your culture is your biggest competitive advantage, which means it’s also your biggest recruiting advantage. Use it to sell the position and the opportunity you are offering.

Take advantage of good marketplaces

Once you’ve changed your mindset from “posting an ad” to “marketing your opportunity,” you need to choose the marketplaces that are likely to provide the best results. Next month, I’ll talk about the “Big 3” that have proven to work for my business and thousands of independent practice owners like you.

In the meantime, walk around your office and identify the employee who has the personality of a recruiter. Tell them about the opportunity and the value they would bring to the organization, then share this article so they can understand the job. By the time my next article is published, they should be ready to add my recommendations to theirs!

Editor’s note: This article originally appeared in the January 2022 print edition of Dental economy.