Vicky Prince – Senior VP of West Coast Operations

“I don’t get enough response from the ads I place…”

“Most of the people that apply in my office aren’t a good fit – there just aren’t enough good staff prospects in my area!”

Maybe you’ve had thoughts like this before.  If anything, I’ve heard this sentiment expressed by many of the hundreds of dentists I’ve worked with on the subject of hiring new staff.   And let’s face it – when you really need to hire someone and you see little to no response to your ads – or you can’t seem to attract that someone who might be able to do the job, it can feel utterly disappointing.

It’s with that in mind, I write this post. In many cases, just a few simple fixes can dramatically improve both ad response and applicant quality, making it possible to find that great staff member.

(Related: How to Hire and Keep Great Dental Office Staff)

1. Not enough applicants

As I said, I hear this a lot. When I do, the first thing I check is where they’re posting their ads. Often, I’ll find they posted just one ad, on just one platform, and unfortunately, that isn’t enough.

When posting ads for prospective staff, you want to:

  1. Post in several places: You may want to use 3-5 different platforms – it’s worth the expense if it gets you the right employee to fill a needed position in your office,
  2. Make sure you’re on the platforms that are most commonly looked at in your area. For example, in some areas Indeed.com works great – not so much in others.  And you’ll find this with many hiring sites.  Ask around, maybe an employee or people you know: “If you were looking for a job – where would you look?” Take the top 3 or more answers.
  3. Post often enough for your ad to be seen. Typically, you should be looking at posting your ad twice a month. Every other week seems to be the sweet spot to getting enough of a response.

(Related: When to Hire New Staff)

As a side note, from my experience, ads typically perform better at the beginning of the week as opposed to the end. For example, if you were to post your ad on a Thursday or Friday – your response would usually be far lower than if you were to post on a Monday or Tuesday. If you posted your ad on a Thursday or Friday and didn’t notice much of a response, just re-post the ad for Monday or Tuesday and from there re-post every other week, and you should see an increase in ad response.

Normally, with just these few adjustments, I’ll find a doctor that was seeing 10 or 20 responses per ad cycle, will now see as many as 140 responses to the ad within a 24-hour time period. So, it’s a simple fix, but can also be very effective.

2. The ad itself is written incorrectly or has errors

Now, let’s look at the ad itself.  Most doctors will write an ad that is essentially speaking to themselves. In other words, what would they respond to in an ad. Well, we’re not hiring ourselves!  You’d have to think about what your ideal candidate looks for in a position, and write it based off that.  We cover hiring (including Ad writing) on the MGE Power Program.  You can also get an introduction on how to handle this and other staff related subjects at our free seminar “How to Build Your Dental Dream Team.” We do this seminar all over the US and Canada. Click here for upcoming dates.

(Related: 5 Ways to Motivate Your Dental Team)

With regards to writing your personnel ad, compare how you would market for new patients: you wouldn’t place an ad or send out a postcard that says, “Patients with broken teeth and great insurance and good credit, please come over!” That wouldn’t work!  You’d write something that would appeal to those prospective patients (what they want), so as to get them to choose your office! Similar rules apply with hiring ads. You want to make sure its upbeat, positive and really paints a picture of what working in your office would be like and that picture should be a positive one.

Another point that is overlooked more often than you’d think is typos in the ad. I see this a lot. Typos in your ad can hinder ideal candidates from responding, it sends the wrong message. You want someone who is sharp, upbeat and is going to be a hard worker, and that type of person will tend to look at the quality of what you post. So, if your ad is filled with typos, you might turn off potentially good candidates, leaving them duly unimpressed.

So, make sure you take the time to read through your ad and ensure it is free of any typos and that it flows well, and again, paints a positive picture of your practice. As an aside your practice should be, in fact, a positive environment. If it’s not, you’ve got bigger problems and I’d highly recommend that you give us a call!  You can also, if you’d like email me with any questions about this at vickyp@mgeonline.com.

So, let’s assume, you’ve got your ducks in a row about all this and your ads are now pulling plenty of responses.  What next?

(Related: 6 Tips to Finding and Compensating a Great Hygienist)

3. Make sure you have enough time to review and reply to these responses. Quickly.

So, you have 50-100 responses to that ad.  Well done! Only problem – you have no time to go through them and email or call people back.  And I understand. That’s a lot of responses for Dental practice management tips - MGE management experts blogsomebody who is doing the treatment, running the office, and handling anything else that goes along with that – so 3 or 4 more days might go by before the doctor or office manager can do anything about this.

The problem?  Sharp, hardworking, upbeat responsible candidates (the one’s your looking for) tend to move fast.  They are going to find work quickly.  If you’re slow about getting back to them, you can pretty much count on the fact that they will find employment elsewhere.  You may get lucky in this regard occasionally – but this is normally how things work. When you get a response, you should respond within 24 hours – MAXIMUM.  Ideally within a few hours would be best. If you’re finding that you’re taking too long to get back to these candidates – say you get a response on Tuesday and you don’t respond until Friday – you may need to either A) delegate it to someone in your practice who you can say, “I need to respond to these applicants (provide them with applicable resumes) and get them in for an interview (with you or your OM) at ‘X,’ and ‘Y’ times.” or B) Hire an outside hiring agency. Whatever solution you work out, make sure you get these people in FAST.

(Related: Having Trouble Finding the Right Employee for Your Dental Staff?)

Now of course, beyond this, you have the interview process, employee onboarding, training, and all the rest that goes with it.

And in that regard, if you want to know how to do all of this, along with leadership and management skills, I’d ultimately recommend the MGE Power Program.  To find out more about us, I’d recommend two courses of action:

  1. Come to one of our free seminars that we deliver across the US and Canada. Each one provides 4.5 CE units and a complimentary practice analysis and consultation. View the upcoming event calendar here. or
  2. Try MGE’s online training platform, DDS Success. It’s a great way to train your staff on many of the principles from the MGE Program. It also has positional training for the front desk positions in a dental office. For a free demo of DDS Success, click here.

I hope this article helped. Again, if you have any questions, feel free to email me at vickyp@mgeonline.com. Wishing you the best!


2 Responses to “Don’t Make These 3 Mistakes When Hiring Dental Staff”

  1. Lisa Maccarone

    Great advice, but when you do try to make contact within 24 hrs, then its the waiting game. Most do not return calls (granted if that’s the case not a good candidate anyway). How many times do I try to contact a person who does not return a call?
    Then when you have a great phone screening / interview and you want to interview that person and the date / time is all set they are no shows! Very frustrating.

    • Vicky Prince

      Yes! This is a great question and I completely understand what you are running into. Unfortunately this is very common and should be considered par for the course. I tell clients to view this as part of the elimination process – those candidates did you a favor by not showing up! You now know they are certainly not the right fit for your office, and you don’t need to spend any more time on that applicant. I have found that knowing no-shows are a normal part of the process has made the experience less frustrating for our clients and I hope this data helps you too.

      As far as how often to call them – 2-3 calls is plenty. You don’t need to chase your candidates and a responsible applicant would return your call after the first message is left. If you’d like to account for the applicant running into an emergency or going out of town, leaving a second and third message is completely acceptable. Otherwise, move on to your next candidate.


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