As more practices complain of the difficulties of recruiting good staff, dental business coach, Chris Barrow, offers some advice to help overcome them.
One of the questions I get from clients a lot is, “What should we say in a job advert? What should we offer in a job advert?” I’m going to start my response by saying that advertising is the wrong place to begin. However, I will outline further on how I think a good job advert should look. But before I do that, I have to stress that advertising is a last resort.
I say that because, in an age where people are connected digitally more than they have ever been, recruitment is no longer an advertising activity, but a networking one. Not just digitally, but face-to-face, as well. What I mean by that is that if there is a hiring opportunity in your practice, the question you need to be asking is, how do we get this onto our Facebook page and Instagram account? How do we get this out onto our Principal’s LinkedIn profile and in our patient newsletter? And how do we get this out on any other digital channels to which we are connected?
You then need to be thinking about how you are going to spread this message through good old-fashioned word of mouth. So, that means telling your suppliers, any dental reps who visit your practice, the lab you use, your Practice Plan Regional Support Manager, and any business consultants and trainers who come to work with you.
You also need to think about getting the word out at any post-graduate courses you attend, or in alumni meetings you might go along to. Even at local area meetings, you should be telling people you have vacancies in your practice.
Only after you have undertaken all your digital activity and got the word out to every other human being you know, does recruitment finally become an advertising activity.
It’s not about you
So, what do you need to say in a recruitment advert? Adverts are boring, they all say the same thing. And unfortunately, they’re so boring that very often the way people try to make themselves stand out is by offering the highest money. So, their advert starts with a fabulous hourly rate or salary to try to grab attention and get people to take a closer look.
But frankly, that’s a very dangerous strategy. Because by simply waving a big paycheque, or a big hourly rate in front of them, you can be attracting the wrong people. So, I want to reverse the priority of this, and I want you to start every recruitment advert with two words, and they are ‘About You’. These should be followed by a series of bullet points about the characteristics of the ideal candidate for the position you have vacant. It doesn’t matter whether that’s for a job in front of house, nursing, treatment coordination, practice management or even a clinical appointment, whatever vacancy you have in the practice, your advert should start with ‘About you’.
Examples to follow those two words would be: ‘You are looking to be paid in the upper quartile for your postcode’; ‘you are looking for a career pathway’; ‘you are looking to work with an exciting practice that’s innovating in clinical dentistry’; ‘you are looking to work with a team that gets along like a house on fire’; ‘you’re looking to work with a great boss’; ‘you’re looking to work in a lovely location’; ‘you’re looking to work hours that are reasonable and flexible’; ‘you’re looking to work in a place that gives you a range of employee benefits,’ and so on. Populate the list with whatever applies to your vacancy and practice, and then say, “If this is you, give us a call for an interview.” Don’t talk about you, the hourly rate, or what you’re doing as a practice, talk about the candidate. And the right candidate will bite the hook.
So, when you are considering how best to write the advert, you don’t need to worry about what to tell them about you, the hourly rate, the pension or the holidays. Everybody else is saying that, so going down that route just puts you in a competition market. What you ought to be thinking about as you’re composing your advert, are the characteristics of the ideal person for the job.
Now, although I’ve already said advertising is an activity of last resort, if you do choose to use adverts, you need to decide where you are going to place them. Are you going to put a recruitment advert on your Facebook page, or your Instagram account? In which case, you have limited time and space to capture the attention of a potential candidate. Or are you going to use print media formats, such as the dental press or a local outlet? With these you will need to consider how to format the advert so that you capture the attention of the ideal candidate. I don’t believe you need an external agency to put the wording together, you should be able to do that yourself based on what I mentioned above.
However, you might want to hire a graphic designer, if you don’t have anyone in-house with the right skillset, and give them a proper brief including your wording, logo, and a photograph of either the exterior or the interior of the practice. They can then format them into a box advert for wherever you’ve decided to place your ads.
So, as I said at the beginning, recruitment isn’t impossible. People will respond to your adverts, provided you say the right things, in the right way. And remember, everybody’s favourite subject is themselves. So, talk about them, and stop talking about you.
Chris Barrow has been a trainer, consultant, coach and mentor to the UK dental profession for over 23 years. He combines a wealth of knowledge with the originality and independence needed to resolve the thorniest of problems.
Straight talking and determined, he can reach conclusions quickly, and has the reflexes and lightness of touch to innovate, change tack and push boundaries.