January 2020: The future of eyecare hiring
To kick off the new year, I’d like to reflect on one of the biggest lessons I learned in 2019 when it comes to hiring in eyecare. All of the data and statistics I reference in this article came from an independent survey we did on 1,200 optometrists and students, which you can download here for free—The 2019 Optometrist Report.
As CEO at CovalentCareers, I get to speak with everyone from mom-and-pop private practices to the largest optometric corporations in the world. One thing I’ve come to realize is that most smaller private practices are not doing a good job filling their open optometrist positions, while large corporations, on the other hand, are crushing it.
I’ll tell you exactly why that is right now—and trust me, you’ll want to bookmark this.
Through our survey and through talking with thousands of practices a year, we found that 86% of optometrists are researching an employer’s brand and culture prior to applying for a job. Culture, in fact, ranks #1 at 62% for what optometrist job seekers feel is most important about an employer’s brand. Now, the funny thing is that the average employer spends only $826/year on “marketing their employer brand,” and they also ranked the importance of their employer brand extremely low at 6 of 10. 95% of optometrists research a brand before choosing to apply! What makes this whole thing comical is that employers rank their #1 headache in practice as “staff”—so that low investment in people really bites them in the butt.
You could argue that optometrists need a job and they’ll take what they can get—but this is flat out wrong. There is only 3.7% national unemployment at the time of writing, and it’s on the decline. Here at CovalentCareers, we forecast that optometrist unemployment is likely no greater than 1.5%, and that means there are only a few hundred optometrists looking for jobs at any given point in time. If you are part of this 1.5% unemployed, it’s likely because you’re just entering the workforce or transitioning jobs. Combine that with an average debt load at close to $200,000 and average confidence of paying that debt off at six out of 10, and employers are now competing very heavily with companies who have deeper pockets and can beat whatever your top offer is for compensation.
Add even more fuel to that fire with the fact that 32% of new optometrists want to open a practice, and you take another 500+ graduates out of the shallow pool of roughly 1,700 optometrists who graduate each year.
So my point to the optometrist community is this: In 2020 you simply cannot rest on your laurels and plan to get lucky with an OD hire, especially if you’re outside of a major metropolitan area. Simply asking your colleagues or posting on a job board will not yield the results you need. You must invest in recruitment marketing and telling the story of “why” an OD should join your practice. This additional time, money, and resources is what’s required to hire an optometrist in 2020.
Comment below if you’d like to discuss but also check out our 2019 Optometrist Report and our Optometrist Ease of Hiring Tool to see how difficult it is to hire in your area.