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Expectation setting as part of the recruitment process

Good staff, as they said, are hard to find, and that’s even more true in professions where demand for qualified professionals outstrips the available candidate pool. As a result, veterinary surgeons and registered nurses are always in high demand, so attracting and retaining the highest calibre of candidates is a constant challenge. As a Practice Manager, the responsibility for recruiting and staffing retention falls on your shoulders.

So, how best to go about it?

Employee engagement

A popular topic at the moment is one of employee engagement, and although this may seem a topic specific to those already employed, it actually begins at the recruitment stage. An employee/employer relationship is just that: a relationship. To be successful, relationships need to be built around the cornerstones of honesty, transparency and respect. Being honest about what a candidate can expect from their role at the Practice is the foundation upon which the rest of the relationship is built. Being transparent about the role, the daily responsibility, and the career prospects demonstrates the culture within the Practice and clearly delineates that a similar level of respect is expected in return.

Further training

Maybe your Practice is able to offer support for further training, and if this is so, tell the candidate at the interview stage. If there are opportunities for staff to take sabbaticals to gain experience with working with different types of animals, or even overseas working with charitable organisations, then highlight this during the interview. It may be your Practice outsources our-of-hours work, and therefore there is no ‘on-call’ rota. If there is going to be a chance for promotion to a management role, then say so. These are benefits other Practices may not be offering, and as such, they are valid and highly attractive options the candidate will factor into their decision-making process.

Managing expectations

Equally as important as highlighting benefits and opportunities, it is just as important to manage candidates’ expectations fully. If there is a significant chance out-of-hours services are likely to be brought back in-house within the next few months, covering it up now may simply see you going through a recruitment process again when that comes into effect. If there isn’t a process in place for supporting further education, don’t say there is – and then not get around to setting that process up. If there is no realistic opportunity for progression to a management position, don’t indicate otherwise. If a candidate feels the Practice misrepresented itself at interview, the relationship has started off on shaky ground, and the whole thing is likely to come crashing down. Repeated recruiting cycles are time-consuming, expensive and bad for morale.

People prefer honesty and transparency to the false security of empty promises. If what your Practice is offering is the opportunity to gain experience and grow used to responsibility in a truly supportive and nurturing environment, then say so, and watch your staff repay you with respect and loyalty.


Pet Medic Recruitment is a leading recruiter for the veterinary industry and supplies staff nationwide, including part time, full time, Locum and permanent roles. For more information on any of our services, or if you’re looking for a new opportunity, please get in touch with us at