How To Recruit Quality Veterinary Team Members During This Labour Shortage

6 Steps to help you recruit the perfect veterinary team member.

On a recent webinar of nearly 400 people in the vet industry, they were asked “What is your biggest challenge as a practise owner or manager right now?”

In nearly 70% of the cases the response was recruiting staff.

You may have noticed that what was working a few years ago simply doesn’t cut it anymore. To attract quality staff right now, there is a different process that is working very effectively in helping fill those positions created from the huge influx of new clients.


The 6 Step Veterinary Recruitment Process

Let me outline the six-step process that we are using that will help you find your ideal team.


Step 1. Believe you can find someone!

This might seem a bit wacky, but it is founded in the tenets of quantum physics. Your intention influences the quantum field.

Another way to summarise it is “What you focus on you create.”

When I ask practice owners how they are going finding staff their usual response is “There’s no one out there to employ”. Well, if that’s what you put out there…that’s what you’ll create.

So, step one is to change your mindset to this…“I always find the perfect person at the perfect time”.


Step 2. Have your recruitment process ready to go before you post an add.

Curently a trained professional (vets and nurses) looking for a job probably has 20 interviews lined up. The old saying “If you snooze you lose” definitely applies now.

As soon as someone has responded to your advert, it’s imperative that you respond immediately to have that first introductory, casual conversation to see if they could be a cultural fit with your business.

If this first conversation goes well, you then pull the trigger on the rest of your recruitment process which should sound something like this.

“I’d be really interested in sitting down and having a deeper discussion face to face and I’d like to do that as soon as you can make it (ASAP!). When could you come in? And between now and thenn could you also please complete the profile that I’ll send you and shoot me through two references from previous employers?”

This speed of process is important because we are seeing businesses attract their ideal applicant, but take too long to get to a job offer and then find out they have missed out.

Being prepared ahead of time by having your process ironed out will allow you to still be thorough, but also be able to make a decision quickly and make an offer within a day or two.

However, please don’t confuse the idea of hiring fast with not doing thorough background checks or accepting someone who does not share your practice values.

That is the biggest no-no that you can do and I’d rather have no staff, than someone who is going to trash your culture, and provide you with ongoing headaches for a longer period of time. (I’ve done this and it didn’t end up very well. In fact, it ended up on Julia Gillard’s desk!)

The takeaway from this part of the process is you want to develop your recruitment process so you can respond, decide and offer very quickly.


Step 3. Earn the right

This is a tough pill for some to swallow but you need to ask yourself – Have you earnt the right to attract quality staff?

Put another way, would you want to work for you?

My observation is that at the moment, those businesses who have developed a culture that precedes them in a positive way are finding it a lot easier to attract the right team members.

At the moment there is a big shift of quality people who are looking to work in a business where they feel valued and also offers them an environment of meaningful work.

I heard a comment the other day from a business owner who asked, “When will this period of entitlement end?” and I think given the tight job market which could be expected to continue for quite some time, this is a dangerous mindset to have.

It’s not about keeping team members happy. Your job as a practise leader is to provide an exciting vision for them to be part of, and create an environment that allows them to want to turn up and do their very best every day.

This does not happen overnight, but it certainly gives you a huge advantage so developing your mindset and understanding what motivates people is going to make hiring people a lot easier in the long term.

So, my suggestion is that at this moment in time, it might be a good idea to focus on developing your culture.


Step 4. Be clear on who you NEED vs who you WANT.

When you become busy the first thought is often that you need another vet or another nurse to manage with the new influx of clients.

What I observe in many businesses is that often, instead of needing another vet or nurse, what they actually need is more leverage for their key people. More support so they can do more of their “zone of genius work” and remove the elements that they don’t legally have to do, or that they don’t enjoy doing. (this really helps with retention too.)

If we look specifically at vets, most do not enjoy talking to clients about money.

Most get tired emotionally from having to develop rapport with clients all day long.

Most get drained from having to talk about preventative treatment every single consult.

In the practises we work with, we look to leverage the vet, so they are only diagnosing, prescribing, and doing surgery.

Then you can employee someone in a role we call a ‘vet liaison’ and train them up to help the vet in the consult room achieve an exceptional outcome for the client, and yet reduce the workload for the vet by over 50%.

What is interesting is that there is a huge cohort of people who would love to work in the veterinary industry, but they don’t want to be a vet or a nurse. These people bring a high level of customer service, communication skills, sales skills, and of course can write notes for the vet while in consult.

There are practises in Australia using this concept who have a leverage of six support staff to one vet and the turnover per vet is $1.5 million in a general practise.


This requires you to challenge your current business model and be ok to start changing it.

To summarise this step, there are two points to consider:

1. Look at your current system and ask can I use technology or better organisation to become more efficient and reduce the workload on my team?

2. If you’ve decided you definitely do need a new vet or nurse then get very clear on exactly what sort of person you want and exactly what they will be doing, which will help you write your unique job offer.


5. Create a unique job offer.

If you take a look at employment agencies websites, you may notice that every job roughly looks the same. To cut through the noise and stand out, it’s important that you create a job offer that is personal, reflects you and your business, and offers what your ideal candidate would be looking for.

My suggestion here is that you write from the heart, put yourself in their shoes and have a good think about what would motivate your ideal candidate. It’s important that your advert reflects the truth of what their experience will be, otherwise you can expect a high staff turnover, especially in the current environment.

Writing good adverts is called copywriting and it is a skill that you can develop over time with the right support.

Having an awesome advert does not necessarily guarantee that you will be flooded with applicants for vets, however it greatly enhances the readability of your ad and the likelihood that your ideal candidate will feel as though you are specifically talking to them.

The big takeaway point here is you have to be different, and you must stand out or otherwise your offer will look exactly the same as other competing offers.


6. Hustle baby, hustle.

The final part of the process is don’t be lazy.

Once you’ve created your unique offer, you want to get it in front of as many eyeballs as possible. You want to put it on every job board that you can find, see if there’s a university job board and get it on there, ask your team if they can put it on their social media to see if anyone’s interested, be everywhere.

Right now, if you are just placing an ad with one agency and sitting back and hoping that a quality team member is going to fall in your lap, you’d be betting on more luck than good management.

I know that you are super busy and the idea of having to hustle to find someone to fill a role may sound exhausting but trust me, when you find that ideal person and you can move into flow into your practise you will be glad that you hustled.


So you’ve found the perfect person – now what?

Now you’ve got someone great, make their decision to work with you a great one.

Don’t forget that once you have found a quality team player, give them a quality induction that you have mapped out.

Retaining quality players is as important as attracting them so you want to think about the first six to eight weeks in your practise, how can you make their transition into your practise as easy, enjoyable, and meaningful as possible.

They must feel supported, or you may find yourself back at stage one again, looking to recruit another person!

If you have a well-designed induction process, you will find quality people will perform faster, more efficiently, and with more enthusiasm.

Putting aside some time to design your induction process will bear you great fruits.

If you have any questions for Sam about his 6 step process, ask them in the Comments section below or via email