How to find the right team members for your dental practice

Before you place your next hiring ad or ask friends to be on the lookout for someone, you must know “who” you are looking for. 


If this isn’t clear on the front end, you can easily make a bad hire simply because you weren’t focused on the traits you really desire for the position. Or maybe you have found yourself in a “crisis” hiring situation and you feel you don’t have time to define what you really want or need; you just want the RIGHT person NOW.


Finding the right person


How do you define who you are looking for?  You need to access the certifications, qualifications and characteristics or soft skills of the ideal team member. 


Take a moment to step back and evaluate your team dynamics. Too often, dentists or office managers hire people who are just like they are. From a values perspective, this does influence the harmony in the relationships. From a work-style perspective, a team can be full of individuals who are worker-bees, but have no leaders, or be composed of too many chiefs and not enough Indians. 


As you make decisions on the type of person you are looking for, write them down.  Hiring can be stressful, especially if you have dozens (or hundreds) of resumes; you don’t want to overlook or forget any items on your checklist. 


Here are some items that could be on your must-have or wish list:


Clinical certifications. If you are hiring a hygienist or dental assistant, you want to be sure you hire a person who has the appropriate certifications and that his or her licenses are current. For example, you may be looking for an assistant who has an expanded function and/or coronal polishing certificate. Be clear about that in your ad and as you review resumes.


Work experience.  Are you looking for someone who has a year or two of work experience? This can be helpful. Also, if you rely heavily on your practice management software, you will want someone who is experienced in that brand or a similar type.


Attitude and soft skills.  While these are more challenging to verify, go ahead and write down what you are looking for.


This could be someone who smiles, who mentions that he loves to work with people, or who volunteers in activities that involve working directly with others. You also may be looking for someone who takes initiative and follows through on projects. Make your list of ideal traits; this will also help you craft your ad. 


Now that you have a clear picture of who you are looking for, you are ready to write your ad. In a future segment, we will discuss using the DISC work-style assessment to give you insight to an individual’s strengths and weaknesses.


Where should you place your ad? 


Before you go to a source outside of your social network, such as an online job posting source, place the position opening on Facebook, LinkedIn and your website.  Also send an email to your colleagues letting them know you have an opening and who you are looking for.


The only time that this is not ideal is when you are looking to replace someone who is still on your team, and you don’t want that person or anyone else on the team to know you are looking. This is not an ideal situation, yet it is reality in some instances.   


Placing an ad for a professional position in a print only publication is a thing of the past, unless you also get an online listing. We have had great success with many of the regional dental job searching sites. Sites like are a great place to advertise as well. Your ideal candidate is likely to look at one source or another.


And, if you are hiring privately, setup an alternate email address for resumes to come to, and don’t list the practice name or phone number in the ad.


After you place your ad, be sure that you monitor that email address daily. You will want to actively review the resumes coming in, as most great candidates don’t stay on the market for long.

Editor's Note: Want to see what the author says are the 5 most common hiring mistakes that are hurting your dental practice? Click here to read her thoughts.