Hire the right employees to reduce turnover

Hire the right employees to reduce turnover

A targeted approach to hiring will yield better candidates that fit your existing team. Before you place your next ad, consider this advice to focus your efforts.
Sep 01, 2010

You want happy, productive team members who stick around because they belong. And your team wants the same thing. How to hit the mark: Create an environment where people are the top priority and staff retention is a central part of your culture.

To improve staff retention, you'll want to enhance your hiring process. So if your practice is experiencing low morale, high turnover, and difficulties hiring qualified replacements, read on. Soon you'll be able to identify the steps to assemble your dream team.

To begin the hiring process, consider who you're reaching with your advertising. Increasingly job seekers embrace the Internet, so consider a combination of strategies. Advertise in the print and the online version of your local newspaper. Consider your personal contacts. If you're impressed with a receptionist or hostess at a local restaurant, ask if he or she is interested in working in the veterinary field. Advertise on websites such as http://veterinarycareer.dvm360.com/, http://linkedin.com/, http://jobs.avma.org/, and http://monster.com/.

Well-Managed Practices successfully use many different approaches to find applicants. And their strategy depends on whether they're angling for a new team member or a new associate. When she's looking for a certified veterinary technician, Kim Mulvahill, practice manager at Intermountain Animal Hospital in Meridian, Idaho, has had great luck with targeted mailings. "We get a list from the state board of certified technicians, which is public record, and mail out a letter advertising our open position," she says. "We also advertise with our local veterinary technician associations. On the other hand, our associate positions have always been filled by word of mouth or drop-in candidates."


To improve your hiring success rate, know your must-have skills and personality traits. These can vary by position. For credentialed technicians, you want someone with high-level technical and diagnostic skills as well as good client communication skills. You'll need to decide the skills you're willing, and able, to teach. Develop position descriptions and hire based on them. Determine the skills necessary for each position, including the qualities you'd like to see in a candidate and the responsibilities he or she will shoulder if hired. A position description allows you to evaluate candidates' previous experience so you can place them at the appropriate skill level.

Heather Blount, CVPM, the office manager at College Road Animal Hospital in Wilmington, N.C., asks applicants to submit their résumés through e-mail. "Our practice is computer-based and all of our medical records are electronic, so someone who can only come in and turn in a handwritten résumé might not be the right fit," she says. Blount also looks to see what information applicants felt was pertinent to put on their résumé. "Did they list experience from 20 years ago when they were in high school versus more work-related training and education? That's usually a red flag," she says.


After reviewing the résumés you've received, decide which candidates to contact for a phone interview. This preliminary conversation will cover technical training, prior job experience, and professional goals. If you're impressed by any of the candidates during the phone interview, invite them in for an interview at the practice. Discuss the duties for the position, and use a standard list of questions to interview each applicant. It's easier to compare candidates this way, and you're less likely to skip steps.

Dr. Michael W. Brown, owner of Care Animal Hospital in Muncie, Ind., says he goes through résumés and tries to whittle down the list to a manageable group. Then he conducts phone interviews to discuss the position, hours, and other topics that can quickly thin out candidates.