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As aesthetic and dermatology practices across the country (and the world) try to recover and rebuild in the wake of COVID-19, many are facing an unexpected challenge: A scarcity of employees.

Almost every office I consult with is encountering this issue. Many have openings for both front- and back-office positions, and despite having these roles posted on Indeed, LinkedIn, and other job portals for months, they receive little to no response. Of the few who do respond, many—incredibly—do not show up for interviews.

This problem doesn’t just exist in the dermatology and aesthetic industries; it’s widespread. The February 2022 Jobs Report by the National Federation of Independent Business found that 48 percent of small business owners—across all industries—had job openings they could not fill. Meanwhile, of those hiring, 93 percent reported receiving few or no qualified applicants.

Possible Causes

Reasons for this situation may be gleaned from a February 2022 survey the Pew Research Center conducted on employment trends. The nonpartisan fact tank released its survey findings in a March 9, 2022 report that highlights several reasons for why US workers quit their job in 2021. Based on survey feedback, the Pew Research Center found that low pay (63 percent) and no opportunities for advancement (63 percent) were the main reasons why Americans left their jobs. Other significant reasons included childcare issues (48 percent) and a lack of flexibility related to their work schedule (45 percent). A lower factor was employers requiring a COVID-19 vaccination (18 percent).

Tactics to Fill Your Openings

With so many possible reasons for today’s talent shortage, there are no easy solutions to this complicated problem. However, ahead are a few suggestions to help you attract more applicants in this challenging hiring market.

Highlight growth opportunities in your office

To entice candidates to join your team, highlight the long-term growth opportunities in your office. During job interviews, consider outlining typical career paths or have employees join and provide specific examples of how they have advanced within your office. Remember, candidates are interviewing you, as much as you are evaluating them.

Offer higher wages

Whenever employers say they can’t find the workers they need, what I hear them saying is they cannot find them at the wages they want to pay. Obviously, practices—like any business—are limited in the number of staff they can afford to hire, but if it’s possible, try investing in fewer team members at a higher wage to attract quality candidates. A higher base wage paired with a retention bonus (versus a signing bonus) can help with not only attracting candidates but keeping them if hired.

Allow for flexibility

There are a lot of talented workers out there who are underemployed or unemployed because they need flexibility that most employers don’t offer. They could include parents whose young children are in school only part of the day and adults taking care of an elderly relative.

If you let it be known that you are open to working around potential employees’ needs, then you give yourself access to a whole new pool of people. In many cases, it’s possible to empower your employees to cover for one another and work out schedules that can benefit everyone—them and the business.

Look everywhere

In a tight labor market, you need to be open to finding the right people wherever they might be. Try to recruit in places other employers might not be looking (e.g., senior centers and colleges). Don’t dismiss candidates for trivial reasons. Rather, look for ways to give people a chance—they might surprise you.

Recently, I met an outstanding new practice employee and later discovered her previous role was with a fast-food establishment known for its customer service. Being more open-minded can help you uncover some gems (like that new hire) whom you otherwise might not have considered when labor was easier to come by and more abundant.

Consider young and older hires

Even in an employee-friendly market, both young and older job seekers can encounter extra obstacles in securing a position. Giving them serious consideration not only widens your prospects but offers additional benefits.

Young people are generally tech savvy, which is an asset in today’s business environment. Also, they are talent you can develop and groom specific to your needs. Lastly, by giving them their start, they might be more loyal to you.

Meanwhile, older workers bring a wealth of knowledge and experience with them. They have a strong work ethic and rarely miss work. Also, they may only want to work part time, allowing you to fill in gaps only where they exist—no more, no less.

Rework your interview process

If several promising candidates don’t show up for their interview, it might be time to check whether your hiring processes are sound. Did you wait too long to schedule an interview? Could the interview be conducted in a virtual setting or in the office after hours? Have you adequately explained COVID exposure safeguards for both the interview process and potential employment? Lastly, is your hiring process too drawn out, especially given candidates are likely being courted by other employers? If you discover areas of opportunity, do your best to rework your interview process to get candidates in the door.

Hire on ability (not degrees)

Several big companies like IBM have been hiring “new collar” workers. These are people who can do the job—or can be trained to do it—but lack traditional degrees. Of course, not all practice positions lend themselves to a new collar worker, but several do like marketing and front desk positions. Considering applicants more based on their skills, abilities, and hands-on experience rather than their formal education provides you more viable options.

Get Set for Market Fluctuations

Attracting and hiring talent is challenging right now. I hope these strategies not only help you through current times, but in the future. If you make them part of your normal hiring strategy, I anticipate you having a greater chance of having a solid, well-staffed team regardless of what the market does.

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