5 Game-changing Tips to Improve Veterinary Recruitment

Veterinary recruitment has always been challenging, but today, it’s tougher than ever. Research reveals that, in addition to an acute talent shortage, the industry is reeling from unprecedented turnover.

Fortunately, research also reveals why so many veterinarians are leaving their jobs—and what they seek in a new employer. By delivering on those wants, your practice can improve its recruitment rates (and retention rates, too).

It starts by acknowledging a reality you know all too well: veterinary work is extremely demanding. Dealing with life and death day after day is physically, mentally, and spiritually exhausting—and no amount of training can truly prepare you for it.

No wonder the AVMA found that, right now, what veterinarians want most is:

  • A less stressful work environment
  • Improved work/life balance, and
  • To feel valued by their employers

There are many ways that veterinary practices can meet these goals, starting with these five straightforward strategies—which are game-changers when it comes to recruiting.


Tip #1: Make It Your Mantra: Take Care of the Caregivers

Veterinarians spend every jam-packed day taking care of patients, clients, and colleagues. But who’s taking care of them?

That’s your job!

No matter how much you’re doing, try to do more. It’s time to revisit every facet of your practice in terms of its impact on your people—from clinic hours to patient loads to the benefits you provide.

In terms of recruiting, this means finding ways to set yourself apart. It comes down to how you treat your candidates every step of the way, starting from the very beginning.


Tip 2: Foster a Workplace Culture of Employee Well-being

A healthy, positive workplace culture is essential to attracting and retaining employees, especially in high-stress fields. Beyond cultivating an atmosphere of mutual respect and good communication, look for ways to nurture your employees’ sense of workplace well-being.

This may translate to:

  • Expanding employee benefits to enhance EAP/mental health offerings
  • Conducting regular staff training on aspects of self-care
  • Easing work schedules—or giving staff more flexibility to set their own hours

This issue is so important right now, the AVMA has launched a Workplace Wellbeing Certificate program for veterinary practices. Obtaining this certification might resonate with candidates as proof of your commitment to take care of your people.

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Tip 3: Wow Your Candidates During Their Visits  

It’s not enough to tell your candidates how much you’ll value them, you need to show them upfront.

This is especially true for long-distance applicants who have more at stake. When they come in for interviews, take pains to wow them. Book them a great hotel. Introduce them to impressive area highlights. Host a warm welcome reception with staff.

And by all means, after the visit, reimburse them ASAP for their travel expenses. This will truly set you apart, since such reimbursement typically takes a month or longer—a common sore point with candidates, especially younger vets still paying for their schooling.  

If your office isn’t equipped to do this well (and frankly, many aren’t), offload it to a third-party expert. It costs less than you think, and it’s that important.


Tip 4: Provide Impressive Relocation Benefits and Services 

Most veterinary practices offer some type of relocation allowance to new hires moving from afar. But money alone isn’t enough. A great way to show that you care is to supplement those funds with relocation services that ease the planning process from A to Z.

After all, managing a relocation is quite an endeavor: booking movers, buying and selling a house, and learning one’s way around. By simplifying these tasks—via easy-to-use relocation software paired with support from expert consultants—you give your new hires a smooth, positive relocation experience…versus a stressful, off-putting one that can get their tenure off to a rocky start.


Tip #5: Enhance Your Employee Referral Program 

If you do a great job of taking care of your staff, not only will they develop into committed, long-term employees, they’ll become your best brand ambassadors—and that may enhance your future recruiting initiatives.

Given how tight-knit the veterinary community is, chances are, your people can bring more great applicants your way.

Research shows that candidates who are referred to a company by a friend or relative often turn out to be better-qualified, higher-performing employees. So, consider raising your referral bonus and promoting your program in-house, especially when openings arise.

At the end of the day, one good turn deserves another. Taking care of your staff will help you meet your short-term recruitment goals…improve retention…and build a positive workplace culture. And as an added bonus, it may help you build a talent pipeline that perpetuates itself over time.

Human Resources Today