Sheri's Solutions: How to find and hire new employees

2013 04 19 11 20 14 976 Doniger Sheri 200

How do you hire? Do you have a set procedure, or do you leave most of the hiring to a current team member to implement? As a team leader and the CEO of your practice, it is wise to have a protocol in place for when you need to either add or replace current employees.

Sheri B. Doniger, DDS.Sheri B. Doniger, DDS.
Sheri B. Doniger, DDS.

The new employee acquisition always begins with an advertisement. Our newest friend to the office appears to be Craigslist. For a mere $25 (greater Chicago cost quote), you can place an ad without the costly price of print. Historically, we placed ads in the local newspaper with limited circulation. We had to submit our content "on time" or our ad would be relegated to the next issue, which potentially would be a week later. Craigslist has immediacy, and Craigslist reaches the same (if not wider) audience you are looking to reach.

When seeking a new employee, it is important to be concise, honest, and clear in your ad. Listing hours, duties, and the particular work and education experience the job requires is paramount. This may seem perfunctory, but you would be surprised how many ads I have seen with a very minimalist look. How do people find you? How do prospective employees know what you expect if the position isn't well-defined in your listing?

Be honest. If you are only looking for part time, say it. If you are not looking for seasonal help, explain it. We will say, "Serious inquiries for permanent part-time employment only (not temporary or summer employment). Please respond via email. Please forward salary requirements along with resume."

One other item we include is salary expectation. If you have a ballpark idea of what the applicant has in mind for the position and if it is way out of line from your potential starting salary, this may give you pause for a follow-up screening email.

Keep records of your advertisements. If you found the perfect employee with one specific set of words, try utilizing it again. With a service such as Craigslist, they retain all your classifieds, so all you have to do is some minor edits and you are ready to go.

As with any application online, you have the ability to retain anonymity. Responses may be emailed to a blind email address, if you choose not to have your contact information out there. Some offices may be attempting to hire a new employee in anticipation of terminating another one. I once heard that an office received a resume from one of its current employees for a new position with what the person thought was a different dental office!

After your online ad is posted, responses do come in. It is telling as to which person actually read the advertisement and who is merely sending out responses to all in a certain type of category. It is also interesting if respondents send a cover letter, include one in their email, or merely send a copy of their resume.

Although we are quite specific in our ads, we still receive inquiries from all sorts of folks. With this economy, we recently had responses to a job posting from college grads in communications and economics -- all stating they wanted to change their career to dentistry. Some said they were seeking a dental assisting position to get more experience prior to beginning dental hygiene courses in the fall or as a preamble to dental school.

One person actually responded, "Your search is over! You can stop looking! I am the perfect candidate." Although our advertisement stated "experience in dental required," this candidate went on to state his attributes: health advocate, trainer, mixed martial arts, nonsmoker. A perfect fit for some position, perhaps, but not for ours.

With these applicants, they truly did not read the requirements set forth in the advertisement. Think about reading instructions for, oh, let's say, a new bonding material. Reading and following directions are highly sought-after skills in a dental office.

Once you have a pool of potential applicants, screen carefully. If you wanted "experienced" and no one qualified applied, decide if you are willing to train someone. Does this person have any translatable skills? Does this person appear to be heading in a different career direction and your position is merely a space holder with a paycheck? Finally, do you start your search over again? These are all questions you have to consider in the new-employee search. Most of these things depend on how quickly you need a new team member.

When you find the perfect group of applicants, you should contact them via email or phone to do further screening and decide if you want to set up an in-person interview. Do you need to respond to all applicants at this point? That is a matter of personal preference.

Placing the appropriate advertisement for team members is the first step in a new employee acquisition. This is one of the key components in a truly effective search for the perfect team member. It may be frustrating and stress-inducing to hire a new employee, but having procedures and a policy in place will make the process a little easier.

Sheri B. Doniger, DDS, practices clinical dentistry in Lincolnwood, IL. She has served as an educator in several dental and dental hygiene programs, has been a consultant for a major dental benefits company, and has written for several dental publications. Most recently, she was the editor of Woman Dentist Journal and Woman Dentist eJournal. You can reach her at [email protected].

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