3 Recruitment and Hiring Practices to Incorporate at Your Dental Office

Real World Insights from AADOM Authors - Matt Wilkes

Dental offices across the country continue to deal with staffing shortages, limiting patient volume and revenue potential. In the June edition of the American Dental Association’s Economic Outlook and Emerging Issues in Dentistry…Click to learn more in a new window…, 37.3% of practices reported that trouble filling vacant staff positions has prevented them from reaching maximum appointment capacity.

Dental assistants and hygienists are the roles currently in the highest demand, with 38% of practices actively looking to hire for at least one of those positions.

Unfortunately, hiring has proven difficult. Among practices seeking dental hygienists, 93.8% said recruiting for the position has been “very” or “extremely” challenging; 85.7% of practices reported the same for dental assistants.

With recruiting arguably being more difficult than ever in the dental world, you may have your work cut out for you as a practice administrator, office manager, or human resource manager. It’s imperative to work with your dentist to establish strong hiring standards. This can do more than just keep your office fully staffed in the short run — it can also help you identify talented dental professionals who are more likely to stick around for the long haul.

Here are some of our top tips:

1. Write a Compelling Job Description

Your first step should be defining the position you’re filling. Work with your dentist to list the skills a candidate should possess and what core job functions they’ll perform in your practice. Be specific about the certifications, licensure, education, and previous work experience an applicant should have.

You can also list the characteristics you’re seeking in a candidate and what will ultimately bring them success in the role. Examples include attention to detail, enthusiasm, strong verbal communication, and good listening. Be clear on which experiences and skills are “must-haves” versus “nice-to-haves” to avoid dissuading potentially qualified candidates from applying.

But in today’s competitive hiring market, it’s not enough to simply state what you expect out of an applicant.

To create a job description that stands out in a candidate’s mind, you should also ensure they know why your practice would be a good fit for them. For example:

  • What are the expected work hours?
  • Is there any flexibility in the work schedule?
  • What is it like to work in your office?
  • What type of culture have you established?
  • Are there any career growth opportunities available?

2. Build a Strong Benefits Package

Nearly every prospective employee is looking for a competitive salary. That’s a good place to start, but salary alone isn’t always enough to attract talent. Think about what other perks could entice job candidates and get them to stay at your practice in the long term. Prospective employees want to see that your practice cares about them outside of the office — they want to know that you value their health, their family, their work-life balance, and their future. Benefits to consider include insurance coverage (health, dental, vision, disability, etc.) for employees and their dependents, paid time off, and 401(k) plans.

Benefits can also be geared around professional development, such as offering reimbursement for credentials or continuing education. It’s often a manageable expense, showing candidates you’re willing to invest in their professional development. In the long run, it can boost staff retention, help you provide better patient service, and keep your office on the cutting edge of clinical knowledge and technological advancements.

Not every practice can implement each benefit listed above, as there are budgetary considerations to keep in mind. Work with your dentist to weigh the options and create a valuable compensation package that gets talented candidates excited about the job. It can pay dividends well beyond the initial hiring process, too. Employees satisfied with their salary and benefits may be more likely to stick around for years.

3. Cast a Wide Net

There are numerous resources for finding qualified dental professionals. Exploring multiple avenues can help you reach as many qualified professionals as possible and build a strong pool of candidates.

Depending on the position, it may make sense to start your search internally. Hiring from within can provide continuity in your office, reduce hiring time and costs, and give deserving employees an opportunity for growth. Rewarding team members for their hard work and improved skill levels can further benefit your practice by increasing staff retention. Even if they aren’t qualified or interested in the open position, you can still turn to your existing employees for help in the hiring process. They may be able to recommend a qualified candidate from their professional networks, such as a colleague at another practice or a former coworker.

The internet allows you to reach a larger audience. You can post the listing on job-listing websites such as Indeed, Monster, CareerBuilder, LinkedIn, and many others. Using paid or sponsored job ads can help get your listing in front of even more qualified candidates. There are also dental-specific job sites such as DentalPost or the ADA Career Center. The Dental Assisting National Board also offers a dental assistant job board…Click to learn more in a new window….

Establishing relationships with local educational institutions, such as high schools, vocational schools, and universities, can connect you with professionals who have formal training. As a bonus, these candidates are often especially motivated and eager to kick-start their dental careers.

To learn more about hiring and recruiting in the dental office — as well as other human resource principles — consider taking The DALE Foundation’s HR Fundamentals for the Dental Office course…Click to learn more in a new window…. The online course, worth six continuing education credits, covers the essential tools for all aspects of human resources and how to apply them in your practice.

If your office is hiring, you can also add your listing to DANB’s new job board…Click to learn more in a new window….

About the Author

Headshot of Matt Wilkes

Matt Wilkes is the Content Marketing Strategist for the Dental Assisting National Board and The DALE Foundation.

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