Find and Keep Your Best Employees

For any organization, one of the only things more important than hiring the best employees is retaining them. This article offers 5 steps for hiring the best candidates—and retaining them—in 2023.

By Stacy Pursell, CPC, CERS

Steps for Hiring the Best Candidates and Retaining Them in 2023


“Today’s candidates want more than just a job, and they even want more than just a great job. They want to work for a great employer that holds the same values that they do.”


For any organization, the only thing more important than hiring the best employees is retaining them. Unfortunately, many employers place more emphasis on recruiting and hiring and are laxer on retention. That misplaced emphasis is one of the factors that has contributed to the ongoing phenomenon known as the Great Resignation, in which large numbers of employees have left their jobs beginning in early 2021.

When viewed holistically, the hiring process presents a bit of a challenge. You don’t want to focus too much on recruiting and hiring that you neglect retention, but on the other hand, you don’t want to focus too much on retention that you neglect recruiting and hiring.

The good news is that you don’t have to sacrifice one to have the other. Instead, you can have both when you approach the entire process in an organized way. It is important to understand that what you do during the recruiting and hiring process at the beginning can help you with retention in the end. In other words, the same things you do to engage and recruit top candidates before you hire them can also help you to retain them after you hire them.

Essential Components of Recruiting and Hiring

The first step in this process is identifying the specific components of a solid recruiting and hiring process. That’s because it doesn’t matter how hard you work if you’re not working on the correct things. Consider the “80/20 Rule,” also known as the Pareto Principle, which states that 80% of outcomes (or outputs) result from 20% of all causes (or inputs) for any given event.

In other words, 80% of your results come from just 20% of your actions, so it makes sense to identify and focus on the most relevant actions. With this in mind, there are five main components involved in any good recruiting and hiring plan:

#1—Identification of Talent

This is the logical starting point, because you can’t hire the best candidates in the job market unless you know who those candidates are. And the best candidates are not just the ones who are applying for your online job advertisements. Those are the active job seekers, not the passive candidates, who typically make up the top 5–10% of candidates in the marketplace.

These candidates are not actively looking for a new opportunity because they are being treated at least reasonably well by their employer, which values them and wants to retain them.

#2—Engagement of Talent

Knowing who the top candidates are is just the first step. Because they’re not actively looking for a new opportunity, their brain is not in “job-search mode.” That means when you contact them, they’re not going to be automatically inclined to listen to what you have to say. You must engage them in a manner that will cause them to be open to hearing about your opportunity and your organization and not tell you that they’re not looking at the present time and then hang up the phone.


“It is important to understand that what you do during the recruiting and hiring process at the beginning can help you with retention in the end.”

#3—Recruiting of Talent

Once you engage the talent, keep in mind that they’re not going to be automatically interested in your opportunity just because you have one. This is where the “recruiting” part of the recruiting and hiring process takes place. You must “sell” both the opportunity and the organization to the candidate, and while doing that, you must also emphasize what’s in it for them.

#4—Hiring of Talent

Closing candidates in this market is not easy. In fact, it might be more difficult than any of the other components on this list. That’s because since it’s a candidates’ market, candidates have lots of leverage and plenty of options, not the least of which is to remain at their current employer. The key is to make a compelling offer of employment that includes everything for which the candidate is looking. Aim to truly make an offer that they can’t resist.

#5—Onboarding of Talent

This component involves the first point at which hiring and retention overlap. However, first recognize that just because they accepted your offer, it does not mean they’ll show up for their first day of work. Remember, there is a good chance they will receive a counteroffer from their current employer. This means that the onboarding process starts as soon as the candidate accepts the offer, and you and other members of the organization should start making them feel wanted immediately.

How you onboard your new employees has an impact on how likely you are to retain them for the long haul. You must provide an excellent experience that both reassures them that they’ve made the correct decision and also convinces them that what they were promised before accepting the offer will be what they experience after joining the team.

A Bridge Between Hiring and Retention

As important as the five components we’ve just covered are, they still represent a starting point for an organization looking to improve its recruiting and hiring efforts in 2023. One of the obstacles that exists for employers is the limitation of time, energy, and resources that they face in their pursuit of these goals. As the old saying goes, “There are only so many hours in a day.” As true as that may be, there is still plenty that organizations can do to enhance their hiring and increase their rates of retention.

One of the primary things they can do is hire with an eye toward retention. By thinking about long-term considerations during the hiring process, you’re better able to position yourself to accomplish both goals and achieve success.

Below are five steps for helping to bridge the gap between hiring and retention:

#1—Make Your Talent Pool Deeper and Wider

There’s a fishing analogy that applies here. When you cast your net in a deeper and wider body of water, you’re more likely to catch more fish. It’s the same with candidates. And this is especially applicable in a candidates’ market. When qualified candidates are scarce, it often requires “casting your net” in a deeper and wider candidate pool not only to find qualified candidates but also to find more A-level candidates. These are the top 5–10% of the candidates in the job market.

#2—Attach Plenty of “Sizzle” to Your Job Opening

Once again, passive candidates are not going to be drawn to your job opening just because it exists. They will only be drawn to it if they believe that the opportunity is clearly better than the job they currently have. That’s because they’re not going to make a move unless they believe that it is.

In light of this, make sure that your job description doesn’t read like a grocery list. It should not simply be a list of duties and responsibilities. Instead, “sell” the job, the company culture, and the opportunity overall. Also keep in mind that this is one of your organization’s first chances to brand itself, and you want to brand yourself as exciting to candidates. (And you want to keep branding yourself that way after you hire them.)

#3—Emphasize Recruiting at the Beginning of the Hiring Process

As referenced in the five components outlined above, active recruiting is a critical part of the process. Once you identify and engage candidates, then you must proactively recruit the candidates. This is part of making the candidate feel wanted. This is another factor involved in convincing a candidate to make a move to your organization. First, they must believe the opportunity is better than their current job. Second, they must feel wanted by your organization.

And in much the same fashion, current employees want to feel wanted by the organization, as well, and that’s a major reason why they stay as an employee…or leave.

#4—Recognize the Importance of Branding

One of the first ways that you brand your organization is with the job description, but branding should be a priority all the way through the hiring process. Right now, branding is more important than it has ever been. Today’s candidates want more than just a job, and they even want more than just a great job. They want to work for a great employer who holds the same values that they do.

And if working for a dynamic, forward-thinking organization is enough to convince a person to change jobs, then working for the same kind of organization is enough to convince them to stay.

#5—Deliver to the Candidate What You Promise

This is the step that ultimately serves as the “bridge” between hiring and retention. The premise is simple: make sure that what you promise to candidates—including the job, the company culture, the opportunity, etc.—is what the candidates experience after they’ve been hired. This is called the “validation of experience.”


“When an organization stops delivering on the promises it made, employees make the decision to pursue other opportunities.”

This is important because if candidates do not experience what they were promised, then they will automatically become disenchanted. Just like that, they’ve transformed from being a new hire to being an employee who is at risk of leaving.

And when you think about it, this is why many people leave their employer: The reasons why they decided to join the organization in the first place no longer exist. When an organization stops delivering on the promises it made, employees make the decision to pursue other opportunities.

Veterinary Job Market Numbers and Statistics



The unemployment rate in the veterinary profession is at a historically low level. It’s nearly nonexistent. Here are some numbers and statistics to put this information into context.

According to the job search site Zippia, since 2013, the unemployment rate in the veterinary profession has decreased from 1.0% to 0.2%.

The job market for hiring in the profession might not get any easier in the future, either.

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), veterinarian jobs are projected to grow by 17% between 2020 and 2030. Keep in mind that these are strictly veterinarian jobs. Technician and assistant jobs aren’t included.

In terms of raw numbers, that equates to 14,500 more new jobs by the end of 2030 as there were at the beginning of 2020, and we’re already two years into the decade.

According to the same BLS data, there will be 4,400 job openings for veterinarians each year, on average, during the decade.

Of these 44,000 job openings projected for the decade, approximately 14,500 of them will be newly created positions (based on the BLS projections).

We would need 44,000 more candidates in the job market by the end of 2030 than there are right now in order to fill that many positions.

With a near-zero unemployment rate, there are projected to be 30,000 veterinary graduates between 2020 and 2030. That leaves 14,000 open positions with no one to fill them by the end of the decade.

Mars Veterinary Health agrees with this. According to a report it released earlier this year, they predict a shortage of 15,000 veterinarians by 2030.

This has made hiring difficult in this current job market. It has made it difficult to recruit, engage, and hire veterinarians.

Because even if you can find them, you still have to convince them to consider your opportunity. That’s because they’re employed and their current employer is keeping them relatively happy and satisfied because the employer does not want to lose them.

As a result, the price for veterinarians has increased during the past few years. Higher wages and bigger bonuses are inevitable in this market.

In terms of what our firm is seeing, employers are not making offers to veterinarian candidates below $100,000 per year.

In addition, almost every offer includes a sign-on bonus of some kind. These bonuses are typically in the range of $10,000–$20,000, but they can exceed that amount if the candidate agrees to a multiyear commitment with the practice.

That illustrates the state of the current job market. In the past, it was expected that a new employee would stay with an organization for a certain number of years. If they didn’t, then they were considered a “job hopper.”

Now, veterinary employers know that the market has changed and people switch jobs much more frequently. That’s why they’re willing to pay their new employees to commit to a certain amount of time with the organization.

This dynamic also applies to new graduates, who are asking for and receiving starting salaries in the range of $100,000–$130,000 right out of school.

Doctors with three or more years of experience are asking for and receiving salaries of $140,000 plus production. And emergency veterinarians are asking for starting salaries of at least $200,000 before they will even consider making a move.

More Than Money

It’s not all about the money, though. There are other things that are important to today’s candidates, too, and one of those things is a flexible work schedule and a corresponding healthy work-life balance.

In fact, the work schedule is very important to candidates when assessing an offer package from an employer. If they don’t believe the offer includes enough flexibility, then they will reject the offer, regardless of the money involved. In this market, employers must accommodate the schedule demands of candidates if they hope to hire those candidates.

Something else that today’s candidates want is a safe and pleasant work environment. One of the main reasons for this is the fact that clients have become increasingly rude over the past several years, to the point where this has become a real problem for clinics.

Veterinarians and veterinary staff want to know that their employer is going to “have their back” and protect them from rude clients and pet owners.

Focusing on the Basics and Fundamentals

Hiring and retention are perhaps more difficult right now than they’ve ever been. There are multiple reasons for this, including the current state of the job market and the challenges associated with engaging the members of the younger generations. However, the basics of recruiting, hiring, and retention—the fundamentals associated with enjoying success—have remained the same down through the years.

The only difference is that, now, these basics and fundamentals have become more important. You can’t ignore them. You can’t “get by without them.” However, that does not mean that you have to allow them to overwhelm you.

Instead, the blueprint for hiring the best candidates and retaining them in 2023 involves a focused effort on creating a system that addresses the needs and requirements of both priorities, thus saving time and energy in the process while also increasing the odds for overall success.

Photo credits: PeopleImages/iStock via Getty Images Plus, Olga PS/iStock via Getty Images Plus, courtneyk/iStock via Getty Images Plus, gpointstudio/iStock via Getty Images Plus



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