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Prior to the pandemic, many dental clinics often had their pick of the most talented and qualified candidates they could find. Now, the market is effectively reversed — and the subsiding of the pandemic won’t be a cure-all.
If you’re finding it challenging to recruit top-tier dental professionals, you’re not alone: A 2022 poll by the American Dental Association revealed that nearly 40% of dentists are trying to recruit hygienists. Of those, 95% said it’s been extremely or very difficult to hire qualified hygienists.
That’s where we step in.
Wizehire can help you thoroughly understand the dental hygienist job market, then implement an effective recruitment and retention strategy. Let’s get started.
Understanding the dental hygienist job market
It’s a good time to be a dental hygienist, and that’s not changing anytime soon. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says that, between now and 2031, there could be more than 100,000 openings on the dental hygienist job market. In other words, there will be an abundance of opportunities for qualified candidates — even more so than there already are.
This sea of candidates presents a couple of challenges for employers. Of course, there’s the immediate challenge of competing against other clinics who are vying for the best possible candidates. When facing stiff competition, it’s critical to implement and convey an employer value proposition that will enhance your recruitment efforts while also fortifying your HR strategy.
Your employer value proposition consists of all the elements that make your dental practice an attractive place to work. It might be helpful to think about value propositions in the classic sense and ask yourself, what is my employer brand? What kind of experience — including culture, compensation and benefits — does our clinic offer to make us stand out? These questions are tough to answer without understanding what today’s dental hygienists are looking for. And since each candidate’s motivations will differ, it’s important for you and your team to conduct your interviews in a way that yields as much helpful detail as possible about your candidate.
After all, anytime an industry evolves, its professionals adapt and evolve with it. Telehealth and other technological advancements are shaping how the dental profession looks and enhancing the types of services hygienists can offer. Naturally, this trend also shapes patient behavior: Perhaps more than ever, patients expect a high level of care as quickly as possible.
Each of these factors will help you determine how to make your clinic stand out in a hyper-competitive market. Now, let’s explore in depth how you can go beyond the CV and find the best possible fits for your clinic.
Tailoring Hiring Practices for the Dental Industry
Once you’ve defined your value proposition and determined how to distinguish your clinic, it’s time to get strategic about the hygienists you interview. This can take several forms — and we have an article (and multiple services) dedicated to helping you screen candidates and find the right hire. But let’s focus on a few specific practices.
For instance, consider trying a personality assessment or skills assessment to discern which candidates are the absolute best fit for your practice. In assessments like these, you can prioritize skills like collaboration, communication, organization, and teamwork — skills that are paramount when hiring for smaller teams. These practices can also help you distinguish between candidates who are qualified and those who are both qualified and the right fit for your clinic.
You might also consider a career story interview: an interview fortified by questions that prompt the candidate to share stories, anecdotes or lessons learned thus far in their career. This practice can be especially helpful when searching for premier candidates on the dental hygienist job market, since many of the candidates you screen will have similar skills and qualifications. Further, you can use the career story interview as a recruitment tool.
Imagine that a candidate shares the experiences they’ve had with their manager or some challenges they faced earlier in their career. Those stories give you a clear window to step in and explain how your leaders handle challenges, thereby showcasing what makes your culture attractive. You can then review the stories they share and follow up on certain aspects when conducting recruitment conversations after the interview. Plus, Wizehire has a guide to career story interviews you and your team might find helpful. That said, much of the recruitment process occurs outside of interviews.
When recruiting for dental hygienist positions, it’s vital to build relationships with local universities who can refer you to promising candidates and, in effect, strengthen your pipeline of young talent. We also recommend implementing an employee referral program whereby your current employees are incentivized to refer employees to your practice. These incentives can include bonuses, gift cards, experiences like sports and entertainment, or any gift you feel will engage your team. In doing so, you can tackle both recruitment and retention at once: Your high performers will be incentivized to spread the word about your practice, and data shows that employee referral programs consistently bring in quality candidates at a lower cost than other recruitment methods.
Finally, there’s the element of your job postings. Postings are effectively ads for your organization, so they should be treated as such. Remember to distill what makes your clinic unique into a compelling pitch at the very top of your posting, and just as importantly, avoid jargon or buzzwords that may alienate readers who are looking for something new.
These steps may seem tedious and difficult to master, but that’s why we do what we do. Wizehire can alleviate your stress by helping you create and post seamless job postings. Further, we merge powerful tools with the personalized, expert touch needed to find top talent when facing stiff competition. We’re here to help, so let’s get started.
Ready to find the best possible fit for every role in your organization? Wizehire can help. Talk to a hiring strategist and start attracting top talent today.