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Recruitment - important perspectives

Updated: Sep 13, 2021

Recruitment in dentistry has reached a critical point.

If you've heard that it's hard to find suitable candidates for a dental vacancy, you're not alone. Over the past two decades it has become increasingly difficult to recruit the right people. This is a global trend. There are differences in the type of employees that are hard to find. But overall dental practices find themselves competing to attract employees at a level never seen before.

Based on a number of specific recruitment cases I have been directly involved in, I have chosen to write a series of posts on recruitment. In the coming weeks, I'll go in-depth on what dental clinics can do in 2021 to succeed in recruitment.

Among other things, we'll look at:

  • How times have changed and how that places completely different demands on the way we recruit.

  • Why so few show interest in job postings and what you can do about it.

  • How desperate methods you might face in the competition to attract talented employees (or just suitable candidates)

  • Why many new hires don't turn out as positively as expected.

  • Success stories we can learn from.

A historical perspective from Europe

To understand what we need to do differently today, we need to take a comprehensive look back in time. I apologize in advance if I generalize or do not report history 100% correctly. If we look back in time, history will often show us the way to some of the changes needed to be successful in recruitment in the dental profession today.

The challenges of recruitment are not a new issue. Since the turn of the millennium, all forecasts of dental care trends have pointed unequivocally to 2 challenges:

  1. Too few recent graduates in relation to the number of dentists, dental nurses or dental assistants leaving the labour market.

  2. A slow population growth, due to higher average life expectancy, which in turn places greater demands on the ability of dental clinics to deal with complex clinical issues.

Politicians have chosen to ignore the repeated warnings from dental schools and dental associations over 20 years. They have had the opportunity to exercise due diligence, but have chosen, across all parties, not to do so.

As an example of political ignorance I will describe the situation in Denmark. Over 20 years ago, a report by a major international consulting company formed the basis for a policy we have been able to follow in the development of Danish dentistry. In the report, the consultants recommended, among other things, solving the problem of the above demographic development by training more dental hygienists.

Challenged by reality

Among the arguments was that dental hygienists were significantly cheaper and faster to train than dentists. They would be able to take over a wide range of tasks from dentists, who in turn would be able to focus more on specialist tasks.

On paper, a sensible solution. However, there were a few key elements the consultancy overlooked.

  1. A large proportion of dental hygienists stopped practising after 10 years and found employment in other types of jobs. This has eroded the plan to replace the departing dentists with dental hygienists. Thus, there is now a shortage of both professions.

  2. It was expected that dentists would implement dental hygienists much more quickly and delegate more tasks than has been the case.

Why the 80s are interesting in 2021

Back in the 1980s, the job situation for dentists was markedly different in Denmark than it is today. Back then, too many dentists were trained, which made it extremely difficult to find a job as a recent graduate dentist. The situation led many dentists to seek their fortune in Germany, Great Britain and Switzerland.

Back in the 80s, clinic owners paid 22% interest on mortgages. Back then, the clinic owner on the country just had to tell his cousin in Copenhagen that they needed an experienced dentist before they got 15 qualified applicants.

The influence of our judgement

It was not a development that changed from one year to the next. It is possibly the long transition from abundance to extreme shortage of dentists that has led to a certain speed-blindness. Job postings today are astonishingly similar to those posted 25 years ago. Not only that, but virtually all job advertisements look the same!

You could get away with that in the 80s and to some extent through the 90s and 2000s. Back then, candidates for a job had to sell themselves and all their virtues at the interview.

The jobseeker's perspective

Unless the clinic is located in the centre of Copenhagen or Aarhus, the situation today is quite the opposite. Today, the clinic has to sell itself to get even one candidate to show the slightest interest - and why should they? There are 400 jobs to choose from.... 400!!!!!

If a clinic, in its job advertisement, chooses to write something like: "We are a modern and fully digitised clinic that puts the patient first and values professionalism", then you might as well not apply for a candidate - unless the clinic is located in the center of the capitol.

It doesn't have to be that difficult. The advantage for many clinic owners who have to find a new employee is that they have all had to sell themselves at a job interview once. They can use that experience to create great job postings that pique the interest of potential job-seeking candidates.

The older clinician's advantage

Back when it was still difficult to get a job, you had to write an application specifically for each clinic. The application should preferably contain something about how you felt you could add value to the clinic and how you saw yourself as a part of the clinic's team. All this, combined with a good CV, would allow the clinic owner to assess whether the applicant would be a good candidate for the job or not.

In other words: The applicant would have to sell himself in the best possible way in his application.


It's basically the same thing clinic owners have to do today. Just with the difference that it is now the clinic that has to sell itself to the individual jobseeker. Of course, it's not quite the same. After all, unless the clinic has an astronomical budget to customize 300 Facebook campaigns, it can't target its job postings the same way an applicant can for an advertised position.

Of course, there are candidates who post their CV on websites for jobseekers, LinkedIn or Facebook. Just as there are still many who find their dream job through their network.

In addition, there are many talented colleagues who do not officially flaunt their interest in changing jobs. Just as some have not even been aware that they are ready for a new job.

Sell the position better

So when you can't target your job ads personally, you have to find another way. Here you need to think about how the clinic can sell itself in a way that increases the likelihood that a suitable candidate will want to apply for the job.

Sorry - I know there are many who don't, in any way, like the word "sales" in dentistry. It's just the right word to use in this context. Because that is exactly what is needed when you need to contact a suitable candidate for your vacancy.

Avoid being indifferent

When all job postings look the same, it becomes difficult to decide why you should choose one job over another. Then it becomes price, convenience and location that determine choices -

It's all the same when we market the clinic with the narrative that we are skilled, caring dentists who put the patient first and place a high value on quality and professionalism.... Just like any other dental clinic... including the cheap dentists abroad.

When you do it this way, it is 100% certain that price will be the deciding factor.

There is probably nothing wrong in the statements. It's just polished and harmless = it becomes vanilla and thus completely indifferent to the reader!!!!

Specific proposals

What to do specifically to attract candidates for a vacancy?

We'll look at that in next week's blog post.

If you can't wait until next week for concrete tips on how to optimise your chances of attracting the right candidates to your practice? Then feel free to call or write me directly. Over the past year, I've helped design job postings that have been able to attract just the right candidates in areas of the country that, on paper, have uncommon difficulty attracting highly specialized workers.

Many kind regards

Jesper Hatt DDS

T: +41 78 268 78


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