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Dental Hiring & Recruiting in a Tight Market

Posted May 26, 2021

Tonya Lanthier, RDH

Dental Hiring & Recruiting in a Tight Market is the second part of the series Hiring Through a Dental Labor Crisis. If you missed part one, catch up here.


The dental labor shortage is placing pressure on employers to hire more swiftly and with more promises. The cost of rising expenses, salaries, and wages is taking a financial toll on already stressed dental practices. Working with fewer employees, and in many cases without a dental hygienist, dentists are struggling to meet the needs of their patients. 

At DentalPost, we believe in hiring smarter. And by that we mean taking a strategic approach focused on the future of your practice and not just the right now. With that comes understanding dental employment trends, your multi-year practice vision, and the impact of changes in generational preferences and advancing technology. But these are unprecedented times and we have to adjust and adapt so we can survive and thrive. 

We’ve heard you and are tackling your questions on what you can do to succeed in this challenging dental hiring climate.

Burning Questions Dental Hiring Managers Want To Know

1. Should you expand your recruiting activity… and how?

Our first recommendation is to optimize how you use job boards. If you are using DentalPost.net for searches, but not taking advantage of the Premium options, or the even more value-driven Super Premium plan with bundled money and time savings, consider making a change. Beyond that, it is all about relationships, so make intentional use of them. Engage your team members to help recruit candidates by reaching out to former classmates and colleagues. Reward them if their referred candidate is hired. 

2. Should you shorten your interview process to immediately fill a position?

In our digital world, it’s a two-way street where employers and employees rapidly assess each other, while job boards facilitate connections. When you start interviewing, consider yourself in the fast lane, too.

Dental clinicians today have multiple job opportunities and demand the hiring process move more quickly than maybe you are accustomed to. Our entire society has come to expect accelerated information flow and decision-making. Pausing in your communication could be considered a sign of disinterest. Compound this with the impatience of Gen Y and Gen Z, in general, and before you realize it a candidate could be easily distracted by another employer.

Tactically, this means increasing your interview efficiency and keeping the process moving. Be crystal clear about what you are seeking and the benefits of joining your team. Invite their questions and respond immediately to their texts and emails. Check their references promptly. Don’t delay or prolong scheduling them to meet you and your team in person or remotely if needed. The enthusiasm from your team will be contagious, so communicate why you are eager for them to meet the candidate.  

3. Should you consider candidates that would not be your first choice in a different labor market?

In this market, it’s not realistic to get everything on your candidate wish list. However, making a rash decision or bad hire out of desperation isn’t a good idea either. The reality is many wonderful candidates are overlooked at first glance or are seeking positions that don’t exactly match the one you have defined.  Open your mind to other possibilities. Indicate flexibility in your job description that will make it easier for someone to apply. For example, be open to full-time with start and end time flexibility or part-time with choice of hours. 

In screening candidates, hiring managers bring biases into the process which can cause them to miss out on great candidates. Be mindful of your default attitudes as you review and screen applicants and ask yourself why you are eliminating someone. Is it based on solid criteria or rather your personal tastes and preferences? Additionally, If you interviewed someone in the past and thought they would be a good fit, but the timing or situation didn’t work out, reach out to them again. 

4. Should you hire for the short term and plan to rehire later?

At DentalPost, we believe hiring right the first time is the best way. Doing the due diligence to assure the candidate-employer relationship is the right fit is better because the costs of a bad hire are more than just time and money lost. That said, we recognize that these are unprecedented times and patients need care. So is it practical to do that in a labor crisis? It depends. Consider hiring someone part-time who has more experience, or perhaps a less experienced clinician as an assistant to support existing staff. 

Consider intentionally hiring younger Gen Y and Gen Z team members who are eager to work and often at a lower wage. You can also benefit from their technology expertise and internal drive for efficiency.

What can you do to become and be seen as a stand-out employer right now?

Once you have strategically defined the skill sets and career aspirations of team members who will enable you to achieve your longer-term goals, it comes down to filling immediate gaps in your team to meet immediate patient demand.

Employers that stand out do the following: 

  • Value and collaborate with team members and compensate them well. 
  • Lead their teams with clear objectives.
  • Create fun, high-morale work environments where teams are more productive and content.
  • Communicate openly creating a culture of respectful teamwork where team members feel supported in better managing stress
  • Intentionally mentor and provide continued learning opportunities for their teams which is especially appreciated by and attractive to Gen Y and Gen Z. 
  • Complete all your employer information on your DentalPost profile so that you show potential candidates that you are active and serious about your practice and assuring you find the right match. 

Need more help? Download our Toolkit.

We’ve created the Ultimate Hiring Toolkit to help you maximize your dental hiring process with best practices, templates, and more. Following our method and guidance, you can set yourself up for success and hire right the first time.


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