Is it time to try something new? - Veterinary Practice
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Is it time to try something new?

of Vetpol discusses
different ways of finding
and recruiting new
team members for your
practice – making the most effective
use of the many options now available

IF YOU ARE A PRACTICE OWNER OR MANAGER, the chances are that recruitment is your biggest headache. Vacancies that stay unfilled for months put strain on the remaining team members and potentially create new issues related to staff retention. Perhaps your response has been to create new print ads that are bigger, flashier and more expensive than ever before, but the right fish still aren’t biting. Could it be time to look for a new spot along the river or look for more enticing bait?

Not just what you say, but where you say it…

At one time, the only way to find a house to buy was to look in the local newspaper or drive around the desired area looking for “for sale” boards. Nowadays, who has the time for that when you can look online? Getting yourself noticed online can be tricky, but there are solutions. The first is to post your job vacancy on veterinary sites that already attract your target audience of vets and RVNs – in other words, fish in the best-stocked ponds. Some of the busier sites charge a fee for this while others remain free: look around and choose wisely. We recommend posting on more than one.
As a rule of thumb, context (where you post) is becoming as important as what you post online. When looking at how people are searching online for veterinary vacancies in the UK, the actual search volume for individual words (such as “veterinary job”) is
relatively low as it only applies to a relatively small sub-section of the population. However, all the terms relating to these kind of searches also face high competition due to ad spend. As a result, you are unlikely to rank for organic search terms like “veterinary
vacancy” when you post online. It also means that other people are paying to acquire this traffic and so recruitment agencies are well worth considering. Alternatively, you could outbid them and pay more for the traffic, but for one job vacancy this is probably going to be cost-ineffective.

Recruit in social spaces

People tend to have accounts on multiple platforms and specialist audiences can be difficult to acquire so increasingly in the future we will all rely on others to share our news and stories rather than attempting to be all things to all people, everywhere, all of the time. Rather than buying traffic, special interest sites attract people by creating useful content so you can be sure that the professionals visiting the site are keeping up to date on current issues. Vetpol, for example, has a presence on all the relevant social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, hosts a popular blog and is consistently rated as one of the top veterinary influencers – so in terms of context has a lot to offer your recruitment campaign. You might consider LinkedIn to be primarily a business platform with a reputation for being a good recruitment tool – for many people their first step when looking for a new job is to update their LinkedIn profile. Luckily, it has also attracted many vets and vet nurses both from industry and general practice. A recent search pulls up 630,000 individuals with “veterinary” as part of their profile. Looking for a specific skill set? “Veterinary orthopaedics” brings up another list of over 1,500 potential candidates. There are a number of dedicated veterinary groups on the site that attract veterinary professionals to LinkedIn though some (not all) exclude recruitment from their news streams. Look around and join the most relevant groups that offer open access to members for recruitment purposes. Of course, as well as being a place to seek out vets and vet nurses, LinkedIn is a source of information for potential recruits, so make sure that the practice partners have a profile and that it reflects the practice values and ethos. Connect with a few likely candidates or gatekeepers and if you see someone you think would be ideal, why not message them and let them know about your vacancy? If you overtly signpost candidates to the LinkedIn profiles of partners in your job ads, don’t forget to check out the “who looked at your profile” section and follow up with a friendly message.

You and me, not them and us

Thinking about your search from the point of view of the applicant is also very useful. Some professionals want to change their job but not their location and may only be looking at practices within a specific area. Posting your job on your own website and letting them know they can apply in confidence is one way to hook those fish who need to stay in the area due to their partner’s job or
who have children at local schools. Think about testimonials from existing team members too – everyone loves the reassurance offered by a positive review. Why not use your practice social
media too? While you are unlikely to have a ready-made audience of veterinary professionals, you can buy access at a low price. If you use Facebook, then for a few pounds you can post your vacancy on your page (including contact details) and then boost the post. Select vets or vet nurses as the special interest group and select the geographical area you want to attract applicants from – that could be just the UK or extended into Europe. You will be able to see how many people your post is reaching, so allocating a small test spend can be a good starting point: you could even test different wording on several posts as a way to find out what attracts most interest. Include a photo of the practice or team, but be careful about adding too much text as this can result in your “ad” being rejected. Think about the timing too. Veterinary audiences are often online slightly later in the evening than most general consumer audiences. Popular slots when people are travelling to work or lunchtimes also face a lot of competition and 3pm is often suggested as a time on Facebook when it’s easiest to get noticed: experiment to see what works best. On Twitter, hashtags such as #job, #jobs and #hiring are more popular than #career, #vacancy or #recruitment. That doesn’t mean that’s the most relevant term for our profession, so again be prepared to test. Follow relevant professionals to increase the possibility of retweets (also ask for retweets!) and post more than one tweet at different times of the day and different days of the week: you might find Sunday evening when that “back to work” feeling kicks in is especially useful. Finally, is there a relevant conference coming up? Piggy-back on the conference hashtag and offer an informal coffee and chat (or a free lunch if you are feeling flush) to vets looking for a new position.

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