In an ideal situation, as a business owner you want to have as much notice as possible when an employee decides to move on. Two weeks is generally considered a minimum. Shorter notice periods can put a lot of stress on your dental practice. Here's what to do if your dental assistant quits out of the blue.
Evaluate the Needs of Your Practice
Before you jump to replace the assistant who quit, take some time to evaluate the immediate and long-term needs of your dental practice. How might your practice function if you didn't automatically replace the lost assistant? Is your long-term goal to grow your business? Think about how replacing, or not replacing, the assistant will impact your needs now and in the future.
Meet with your team as soon as possible to divvy up the responsibilities of the assistant who quit. Give your team some time to iron out the kinks and see how they function without filling the gap. If they're doing well, a new assistant may not be necessary. If your remaining staff members are overworked and having difficulty with the increased load, hiring a new assistant is likely a smart choice.
Look into Hiring a Temporary Dental Assistant
If your team is struggling after losing an assistant, consider hiring a temporary one. Staffing agencies may be able to provide you with an assistant until you can hire one. If the temp works out, you can usually hire them after a certain period of time or once your contract is up with the agency.
Call your local temp staffing agencies and request a dental assistant. Or, place an ad online or in your newspaper for an assistant, but be very clear that the position is temporary.
Place an Ad for a Long-Term Dental Assistant
A temporary assistant is simply meant to be a bandage until you can hire a dental assistant that fits the specific needs of your practice. While you have a temp filling the open spot and hopefully reducing the workload on your other staff members, you can be actively working to hire a long-term replacement.
Place an ad online and in your local newspaper for an experienced dental assistant. Describe the job responsibilities as much as you can to make sure your ad attracts the right candidates for the position. Consider using online tools like Monster or Indeed to find potential candidates that are a good match for your initial criteria.
Reviewing a mountain of resumes is tough work, but someone has to do it. You can toss out resumes that don't meet your basic requirements, such as minimum certifications or education. Narrow down the pile, then, take a harder look at the resumes that do catch your eye.
When reviewing resumes, don't be tempted to look at who the candidate worked for or where they worked. Instead, look for skills-based resumes that tell you what the candidate can do. Look for candidates who are using appropriate industry verbiage and who are clear and concise on their resume.
Once you are down to a few resumes, contact the candidates and schedule an interview. The interview process can be tedious, but you can eliminate hiccups by preparing interview questions in advance. Ask fewer "yes or no" questions and more open-ended questions that require the candidate to form their own answer. Be sure to interview candidates with another staff member present, ideally your office manager or lead hygienist.
Don't give too much credit to the interview. Some people are genuinely anxious or have difficulty being in the spotlight during an interview, so they may not perform well under pressure. Pay more attention to thoughtful responses as opposed to canned, well-delivered answers that contain little to no substance.
Enlist the Help of Your Team in the Selection Process
Sometimes the right choice is clear, and other times it's not. You can take some of the pressure off yourself to hire the right person by getting your staff involved in the selection process. Your staff likely has insight and ideas that you don't have from your position.
Allow your staff to review the resumes you've already curated and get their feedback on each. Hold a working lunch to discuss how each candidate did during their interview and reach a consensus on who to hire. You can maintain control over the hiring process by simply allowing your staff to only weigh in on candidates who are pre-vetted by you and up for consideration.
Your Practice Can and Will Survive
Finding out your dental assistant quit out of nowhere isn't great news, but with proper planning and careful execution, your dental practice will not only survive– it can thrive.
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