5 Methods to Find & Screen Potential Candidates

By Dr. Michael Friedberg, Director of Professional Relations, PECAA
Hiring good, qualified candidates can either make or break your practice. In this day and age, a patients interaction with your staff can encourage or deter not only future visits from that patient, but any prospective patients that they may have told about their experience, whether that be in the form of an online review or through word-of-mouth referrals. Making sure you hire good employees is a critical and fundamental aspect of practice success. Hiring employees who are capable of completing the tasks you need them to perform, while also positively contributing to your practice culture, is a process that many hiring decision-makers struggle with.
So, what is the first step when looking to hire? Well, most ODs will tell you that the first step is to determine what position you wish to fill, and what responsibilities you need the applicant to perform. In reality, waiting until you have a position to fill before you start screening candidates is a reactive approach to hiring. In order to place your practice in the best position possible, you should take a proactive approach by constantly screening potential candidates who cross your path, whether or not you currently have a position available for them. That way, if you are ever in a position where you need to fill a staffing gap, you can pull out your arsenal of candidates and be ahead of the hiring game.
Regardless of which approach you use when it comes to hiring, here are the top five methods to find and screen candidates:

Develop a Network of Referrals

According to Adweek, 78% of recruiters find their best candidates from current employee and colleague referrals. Speaking to your frame, lab and contact lens reps is usually a good method you may use to learn of qualified candidates that may be dissatisfied in their current positions and looking to make an employment change. Your reps will have a general idea of whether or not potential candidates will fit the specific needs of your practice. Keep a list of names on hand whenever your rep refers a candidate, and when you are ready to begin searching for an applicant to fill an open position, you’ll have a pre-existing pool of names to pull from. When that time does come, you may want to consider asking your reps to let the candidate know you are interested in them rather than reaching out yourself. Developing a reputation of poaching colleague’s employees is not something you want to be known for!
Make sure to also inform your colleagues that you are looking, as you never know when they may have a contact to send your way. Current employees are also a wonderful resource to suggest potential candidates, as they will have the most accurate knowledge of the skills needed for the job as well as the type of personality the individual must possess to fit seamlessly into your practice culture.

Contact Local Universities with an Ophthalmic Program

If you happen to practice near a vocational school with an ophthalmic program, make sure to contact the school or private practice club to let them know what you are looking for in a candidate. They may put you in touch with a couple of current students that seem to fit your needs by setting up informational interviews. Developing a relationship with students early on in their careers will only benefit you in the future. By the time they have graduated and begun their job search, you may be looking to hire and will have already made a connection.

Search for Talent on Social Media

According to Glassdoor, 79% of job seekers are using social media to search for employment. This is a large amount of potential candidates that you can not afford to ignore. Using social media as a hiring platform is now a widely accepted recruiting method, and a way for you to make connections with numerous potential candidates.
The most common social media platform to find candidates is, no surprise, LinkedIn. Make sure your practice’s LinkedIn business page is active and up-to-date so potential candidates will get an accurate representation of your practice’s brand and culture. Actively reaching out to followers who are interested in your practice is a good way to make connections with industry professionals. Having a LinkedIn business page is also an excellent method to get candidates reaching out to you regarding potential opportunities!

Industry Associations

Optometric Associations will often have opportunities for you to post job openings on their website. Whether it’s a job board or a paid advertising opportunity, these associations will put you in touch with other local industry professionals. It also doesn’t hurt to continually attend local and regional association shows to network and develop worthwhile connections with your peers.

Use a Posting Platform

There are several companies to choose from that will post your job opportunity on their website and work with applicants to find you candidates that match your desired qualifications. Finding a niche website that is specific to the eye care industry is even better and will help you optimize your screening process. Companies that help you post opportunities that are specific to our industry include CovalentCareers, ClarityHire, and Local Eye Site. You can work with generic companies like Indeed or Monster, but more often than not this will result in a large number of non-qualified candidates.

Regardless of which method you choose to find and screen candidates, remember that your overall goal is to hire staff that will create an exceptional experience for your patients. Keep in mind your patient demographic and whether or not the applicant’s personality will match the practice culture you have worked so hard to build. Assessing the potential employee’s interpersonal skills, communication skills, thought processes and emotional intelligence is just as, if not more so, important as making sure he or she has the technical skills you require. Doing all you can to hire and retain the perfect employee will ultimately save you money, time, and a lot of headaches.

Questions on Next Steps? 

Dr. Michael Friedberg, PECAA’s Director of Professional Relations, travels around the country speaking to optometry clubs and facilitating local networking events on behalf of PECAA. If you would like to speak with him about attending an upcoming PECAA event, or to get in touch with him about connecting you with recent student graduates for hire, please e-mail michael@pecaa.com and he would be happy to assist you.
Questions on PECAA?
E-mail us at info@pecaa.com or call the PECAA office at 503-670-9200.
Thank you!


Download Our Ultimate Checklist for Running a Successful Optometry Practice

This checklist will help audit key areas of your practice and guide you toward sustainable, long-term success and growth.

Please complete the following form to download the ultimate checklist for running a successful optometry practice