Romancing the “Perfect” Candidate

February 7, 2018

What is the image of an ideal team member – is this a healthy expectation?

The calendar flips to February and out come the “You are the one for me” billboards. In addition, marketing gimmicks such as “Diamonds are Forever and so is our incredible relationship,” hope to boost sales. Don’t get me wrong, I am all for love and wonderful relationships, but often expectations are blown out of proportion.

Romancing dogI started thinking about expectations in romancing the perfect veterinary team candidate. Are we setting ourselves, our team members and the new hire up for failure by setting unrealistic expectations?

Consider this job advertisement:

We are seeking an experienced veterinary technician to join our team. Must have:

  • Excellent technical understanding and ability
  • Exceptional client service and team leader
  • Excellent communication skills and high-level of emotional intelligence
  • Strong sense of teamwork and empathy
  • Ability to multi-task and problem solve in a fast-paced environment with precision
  • Friendly attitude and energetic
  • Confidence and self-motivated

Essentially, we are looking for a person who has the energy of a 25 year-old, the skills of a veterinary technician specialist and the emotional intelligence of Ghandi! Yes, a bit of an extreme, but do you see where I am going with this?

This example is the piecing together of various, real announcements which epitomizes the characteristics of the “perfect” candidate. Are these realistic expectations? I am curious to find the answer. Does a candidate possessing excellent skills in client service, communications, empathy and teamwork really exist in an agile veterinary technician or veterinarian?

Robert Farrington had this to say, “Most college graduates have had little experience with proper communication, and that puts them at a disadvantage in the corporate world. Some key areas where graduates struggle are time management, situational analysis, developing creative solutions and following through on action plans.”

There is a definite gap as illustrated in the article More on the Soft Skills Deficiencies of College Graduate. “While over 90% of our graduating students feel prepared in soft skills to enter the workforce, nearly six in ten employers feel that job applicants are lacking in soft skills. Although there may be differences between the graduates and the individuals in the applicant pool, it is also likely that students are not fully aware of their own behavior or the expectations of employers.”

What is Realistic?

My point is this, when “Romancing the Perfect Candidate,” critically evaluate the skill sets and expectations for the team member and the job. Otherwise, both the new hire and the existing team will be set up for failure from the beginning which is not a healthy environment.

Last week, at the Arizona Certificate Program in Professionalism Alumni reunion, the veterinary practice managers discussed this very topic in an open forum. There were mixed emotions in expectations related to excellent communication skills, empathy and emotional intelligence. Everyone did agree that these skills can be learned and require life-long dedication to become an expert.

Let’s Get Real.

Instead of trying to find the “perfect” fit, hire good people with basic talent and personalities. Then rely on a healthy culture to help them to grow and mature successfully in both the hard and soft skills.

Managers embracing the need to continually support team members in attending classes in communications, leadership, active listening, critically thinking and conflict resolution will build stronger teams and CREATE the ideal veterinary team members.

Yours in Healthy Hires,

Rebecca Rose, CVT