Published in Non-Clinical

The Ultimate Guide to Recruiting Optometrists in 2021

This is editorially independent content
21 min read
With open positions on par with optometrists seeking employment, it is harder than ever to find the perfect OD for your practice. This comprehensive guide will walk you through every step on the path to hiring success.
The Ultimate Guide to Recruiting Optometrists in 2021
An optometry practice is only as good as its ODs. Therefore, the most important investment you can make is in finding a doctor who will take your business to the next level. Spending the time and money on talent acquisition is a high-yield investment worth making, especially when you consider the very high cost of a standing vacancy.
To figure out exactly how much you could be losing in revenue and the real cost of hiring we’ve created a comprehensive optometrist cost of hiring calculator.
In today’s job market, finding a top-notch candidate can be a challenge. In a March 2019 survey for our State of Corporate Optometry Report, we discovered that, out of 1,214 optometrists, 57% listed staffing as their #1 challenge. On the flip side, young ODs deemed finding a position fairly easy. In our December 2018 survey for The New Grad Optometrist Report, we found out of 669 optometrists, ODs rated the “average difficulty” of finding a job at only 3.5 out of 10, meaning the good ones are going quick.
Luckily, we’re here to help. Guided by our team of top talent acquisition specialists, we have compiled a comprehensive guide covering each phase of recruiting. With this information, you’ll either be ready to embark on the recruiting process yourself or realize you’d be best served by hiring a professional recruiter to shoulder the responsibility for you.

Preparation: Knowledge is power

With any endeavor, educating yourself on the best practices and pitfalls is the most certain way to succeed. The same is true for finding the best candidate for your practice. To get the best results from your recruiting efforts, there are four primary topics with which you need to become knowledgeable: brand optimization, current candidate climate, timetable, and the most common pitfall.

Put your best face forward

There is a definite discrepancy between the employer’s view of how important it is to effectively brand their company and the weight job seekers place on company image. Our data indicates the average employer only spends $826 per year on “marketing their employer brand.” These same employers rank the importance of their employer brand extremely low, at 6 out of 10. However, 95% of optometrists research a brand before choosing to apply for an open position.
So, what exactly do we mean by brand? Your brand is formed by the information that can be gathered about your company and the overall impression it invokes.

Your brand is a combination of your company story, services, values, tone, and team.

Here’s one way to think of it—does your practice have a patient-facing website, Yelp page, or Facebook account? The likely answer is "Of course!" Most practices are cognizant of their company brand, which serves to attract patients in your area looking for an eye exam, enabling them to easily find you and your services. It also helps garner recognition and build your reputation within the community you serve.
Well, when it comes to recruiting optometrists, especially in this extremely competitive market, it's also critical to put your best foot forward. Practices should be just as aware of their employer brand. Be strategic about the impression and information at the forefront of your website’s job page, your job postings, and any appearances you make at career fairs or community events.
Here are some steps you can take to boost your brand:
1) Have a polished web presence. At a minimum, your website should be professional and up-to-date with basic information, such as services, address, insurance accepted, and an attractive home page.
Ideally, it should also contain:
  • An “About” page clearly outlining your history, mission, philosophy of care, core values, and any other interesting facts.
  • Photos/bios of doctors and staff.
  • High-resolution images of your physical office space and equipment that paint a pleasing picture.
2) Maximize reviews. The new word-of-mouth is online reviews. Make sure they are working for you by tracking your reviews on sites such as Google My Business, Yelp, Healthgrades, and WebMD. These sites allow customers to post about their experience with specific businesses and use rating systems to rank satisfaction. Encourage satisfied patients to leave positive feedback.
Also check your status on Glassdoor, which gives current and former employees a platform to anonymously review and recommend companies by listing pros and cons and rating them on a star system. Glassdoor also allows job seekers to compare salaries and browse jobs.
3) Launch an advertising campaign. A professional marketing agency can put together resources and organize a campaign to promote your company through different media and social networking outlets to add to your visibility and overall image.
Here’s a great example of how Blount County Eye Center used recruitment marketing assets to demonstrate how the practice is a great place to work.

Know what today’s optometrists want

In order to attract the top talent, you must first understand the current optometry job market and have a firm grasp of the qualities ODs strongly prefer in a practice.
“People are increasingly looking for jobs where they are going to be able to have a good work/life balance and where they will be able to have a fulfilling experience inside and outside of the job.”
— Robert Mediavilla, Eyes On Eyecare Customer Success Associate
According to our 2020 Optometry Millennial Workforce Report, young optometrists value the following:
  • Work/life balance: Today’s doctors want to excel in their job while also having the time and energy to have a life outside the office for family, hobbies, and self-care.
  • Socialization: Nearly 75% of ODs think it is important to have the opportunity to socialize with co-workers throughout the day.
  • Benefits: Along with good health insurance, 401K retirement options and profit sharing (or having the opportunity to buy into the practice) were contributing factors to job choice and satisfaction.
  • Location: Candidates preferred a suburban workplace, with urban coming in second, and rural bringing up third.
  • Community involvement: Companies that offer an opportunity to participate in the community by giving back and making a positive impact have a greater appeal.

Time is of the essence

Each day you do not fill the open position means one more day of under-earning, so it is only natural to want to fill the spot as quickly as possible. However, on average, the recruiting, interviewing, and hiring process takes between three to six months—and up to a year in more saturated markets, or rural settings.

Remember, a vacancy in your practice means a vacancy in your bank account.

That’s why we created the Optometrist Time To Hire Calculator. With this tool you can determine how easy it will be for you to hire an optometrist for your practice. It takes into account what factors will assist with hiring an OD and how to make it happen as fast as possible. Our engineering team at Eyes On Eyecare built this tool by analyzing data from more than 4,000 job listings. It will help you to set your expectations of how long it will take you to hire an optometrist and what you can do to speed things up.
According to Brett Kestenbaum, our co-founder and Chief Operating Officer, not realizing this fact is the most detrimental mistake a practice can make. You must anticipate the time to hire. To be proactive, practices can follow the steps in the next section to establish a presence before they establish an actual need.
“The biggest mistake practices make when recruiting is starting too late. Many practices don’t start looking until they need someone tomorrow, and realistically that is not going to happen. It never hurts to always be looking and to have some kind of representation online at all times.”
— Robert Mediavilla, Eyes On Eyecare Customer Success Associate

What not to do

The biggest complaint from potential hires is that companies do not keep the lines of communication open or respond quickly enough, leaving them frustrated and confused. Avoid this pitfall by including hiring into your daily workflow and setting aside time each day to respond to applicants, follow up on interviews, communicate with recruiters, and speak about offers when the time comes.
“Being timely with communication is critical. Delayed interactions lead to great candidates falling through the cracks or accepting other offers because they received them first.”
— Priti Gohil, Eyes On Eyecare Talent Acquisition Specialist

Process: breaking down exactly how to find your fit

Ready for the real work? The four primary parts of procuring the right optometrist for your practice include crafting a powerful job advertisement, making sure it is seen by the candidates you desire, interviewing those candidates, and making them an offer they can’t refuse.

Preparing an awesome advertisement

The first step in the recruiting process is developing an optometrist job advertisement that will attract top talent. Your post should be transparent, thorough, and have a tone that matches your practice.
“One of the biggest mistakes practices make in their job posting is being too vague. A well-crafted posting should be transparent and provide thorough information on exactly what you need from an OD.”
— Priti Gohil, Eyes On Eyecare Talent Acquisition Specialist
To avoid the trap of being too vague, give as much pertinent information as possible. Your listing should include:
  • A comprehensive job description: Be as detailed as possible when describing the job by including the patient demographic, scope of practice, modalities, and available equipment as well as hours an OD can expect to work and day-to-day duties. Need help writing that perfect job description? Check out this free optometrist job description template!
  • Practice details: Let the candidate know how long you have been in business, if you are a family-owned practice, and how many doctors/staff make up your team.
  • Core Values: List the core values or mission of your practice to attract doctors who align.
  • Salary/Benefits: Do not just say “competitive” when listing salary and benefits. List whether the position comes with health, dental, and vision insurance. Mention retirement and profit-sharing if applicable. And if you have a generous time-off plan or flexible work schedule, mention that too.
  • Community: Let the candidates know what your city/town has to offer in the way of outdoor activities, festivals, parks, sites to see, and family-friendly offerings.

Posting your position

Now that you have a dynamic description, you must make sure it is seen by as many quality candidates as possible. This requires posting your advertisement in a variety of pertinent places, including job boards, school sites, industry publications, and social networking platforms.
“If you are going to recruit and look to fill a position, you have to use every resource and post everywhere, including Eyes on Eyecare, iHire optometry, Zip recruiter, and Indeed, just to name a few. The more times and places a candidate sees your listing, the better. Also, utilize LinkedIn where you can essentially look at their resume without having to ask them for it.”
— Robert Mediavilla, Eyes On Eyecare Customer Success Associate
Make certain to have a presence on:
  • Job boards: These include industry-specific boards, such as Eyes on Eyecare and iHire Optometry as well as the large national boards (Indeed, ZipRecruiter, Monster). For a comprehensive look at job boards, refer to our article on comparing optometry job boards.
  • Optometry school websites: Take advantage of the fact that schools have their own career services department with an accompanying page of job listings.
  • Industry publications: Publications, including Review of Optometry, Optometry Times, and Optometric Management, each have job boards to which you can post.
  • Social networking sites: LinkedIn is an invaluable resource. Not only can you post your job directly on the site, but you can peruse its members to find recent graduates, their educational and work history, if they are currently seeking a job, and then reach out to them directly.
The following posting approach is reserved for active job seekers; however, there is another segment of optometrists you may wish to reach. These are doctors who are already working within a practice, but have a lower level of satisfaction—6 out of 10 or below—and would be amenable to changing jobs.
These passive job seekers are a little trickier to attract, as it requires reaching out directly through either LinkedIn, an industry connection, or personally through a phone number you have acquired.

Getting to know you: interviewing optometrists

The interview phase is the most significant stage of the recruitment process. It is usually broken down into an initial screening call followed by an in-depth, in-person interview.
It is vital to keep the interview process structured and streamlined. According to our talent acquisition specialists, one way to do this is by having a panel present at the in-person interview rather than having candidates meet with several people individually which is draining and time-consuming for all involved.
During the first screening interview the goal is twofold. First, to educate the candidate about your practice and the job responsibilities. Secondly, to assess whether the client has the skill set, personality, educational background, and career goals to be a valuable asset to your practice. This portion of the interview often takes place via a phone conversation.
The in-person interview (or Zoom, in situations where you are still facing COVID-19 or travel restrictions) should last a minimum of one hour. However, this interview can last as long as a full day and culminate in dinner or a social event to observe how the doctor behaves outside of an office situation.
During this interview, it is often helpful to facilitate an opportunity to tour the office and shadow another doctor. This gives you the opportunity to see how the candidate interacts with a range of people. It also serves to let the candidate gain a better understanding of how the office operates, the patient population, and how fellow doctors engage.
“Ask the candidate to shadow for a day to determine if they are a good fit for your practice before making an offer.”
— Priti Gohil, Eyes On Eyecare Talent Acquisition Specialist
Questions during the in-person interview should encompass both clinical skills, personal goals, and help with the overall assessment of whether the candidate would be a good fit for your practice.

Potential interview questions:

  • Why did you choose optometry/your particular specialty?
  • Do you have any modalities you would like to bring to the practice?
  • What are your long-term goals?
  • Is there a specialty you are committed to practicing?
  • What are your hobbies?
  • How do you enjoy spending your time outside of work
  • What do you find appealing about this area?
  • What is your philosophy of care?
“Ask questions that give the candidate a chance to be themselves and show their personality. This will allow you to gauge whether they will fit in well with your company’s culture and give you a glimpse into how they will interact with patients.”
— Christine Carder, Eyes On Eyecare Talent Acquisition Specialist

Make an offer they can’t refuse

Your proactive approach and hard work have paid off; during the interview process, you’ve found an optometrist who is perfect for your practice. It’s time to make an offer—and quickly. At this stage in the game, you do not want to lose a candidate because of the aforementioned communication breakdown.
“If you have a good feeling about a candidate, present an offer or a contract as soon as possible. Even if they don’t accept the first version, it puts you in a position to begin negotiations and makes them consider you as a viable option.”
— Robert Mediavilla, Eyes On Eyecare Customer Success Associate
When it comes to the actual offer, be as transparent as possible and leave room for negotiation. Make certain to research salaries in your area to ensure yours is fair and competitive. To help you determine this, use our Optometrist Salary Calculator. The data behind the Eyes On Eyecare Optometrist Salary Calculator is based on a combination of five surveys of optometrists conducted between 2017 and 2019 and 2,000 job postings in the Eyes On Eyecare database. Respondents to the surveys had a median grad year of 2015; reported current salaries ranged from below $60,000 to more than $200,000.
Also, remember those additional company qualities valued by potential employees, and incorporate them into your offer, if feasible. Make sure to include all potential benefits, including insurance, retirement, profit sharing, the potential to buy into the business, paid time off, and schedule flexibility. Then make an offer as soon as possible. You don’t want to lose your dream doc to another practice simply because their offer was received first.
“Never underestimate the power of a benefits package. Generous benefits—insurance, time off, retirement, profit sharing—can make an average offer seem much more appealing.”
— Christine Carder, Eyes On Eyecare Talent Acquisition Specialist

Professional path: a recruiter is your most reliable resource

By now I’m sure you’ve gleaned that hiring an optometrist is a challenging and time-consuming proposition, though the end result is well worth it. Eyes on Eyecare understands that oftentimes practice owners are too busy . . . well, owning a practice . . . to commit the time and resources necessary to effective recruiting. Add in lost revenue due to vacancy and it may be best for your budget to leave the recruiting to a pro. That is where our talent acquisition specialists come in.
Your most valuable resource is a designated optometrist recruiter who can guide you through every step and take on the majority of the worry and workload. Essentially, a professional recruiter does everything we’ve mentioned in this article and more.
“The biggest benefit to hiring a professional recruiter is the time investment. When you hire someone who does this professionally they are dedicating all of their time and resources to it. And, additionally, they are taking out some of the work. By virtue of them talking to the candidate first to see if they’re a good fit, they are cutting out steps from the recruiting process.”
— Robert Mediavilla, Eyes On Eyecare Customer Success Associate

All an optometrist recruiter can do for you

Recruiters help you source candidates

Recruiters have developed a vast network from which to pull candidates. A recruiter will actively source ODs who fit your specific requirements, from clinical skill sets to personal values to a desire to buy-out your practice in the future. In a single day, a recruiter makes an average of 150 phone calls to find you potential candidates.

Recruiters help you market your job

Eyes on Eyecare boasts both the biggest talent pool and partner network. Over 96,000 eyecare professionals visit our job board and resources each month. We are also partnered with Jobson. These two factors ensure thousands of job seekers will see your ad not only on our board, but on more than a dozen premiere eyecare and hiring sites, including Vision Monday, Review of Optometry, 20/20, Review of Myopia Management, Women in Optometry, ODwire.org, Indeed, Google Careers, and ZipRecruiter.
“Using recruiters helps you find ideal candidates in half the time, since we have a solid pipeline and can submit exactly what the clients are looking for. We know how to ask the right questions and not only send candidates that have the right skill set but can fit in with the company culture as well”
— Christine Carder, Eyes On Eyecare Talent Acquisition Specialist

Recruiters help you screen candidates and guide you through the interview process

Based on the set parameters you provide, a member of our talent acquisition team will perform all initial screenings. During this process, we will select only the candidates best suited to your particular practice to move forward through the interview process. This saves your entire staff time and energy. At this point, we can handle scheduling your interviews and follow up with candidates, letting them know you are interested.

Recruiters help you optimize your offer

Once you have found the optometrist for you, the talent acquisition team will assist you in the offer process and deal with any competing offers. Our professionals will serve as a third party to negotiate your offer with the chosen candidate and gather any additional details or demands that would facilitate them signing on the dotted line. This process usually takes less than a week.

In our experience, offers facilitated by recruiters have a 75% higher chance of acceptance.

By the way, if you need help writing an offer letter we’ve got you covered. Check out this great optometrist offer letter template.

Recruiters participate in the final placement

Once a fantastic OD has accepted your offer, all that is left to do is pick a start date and relay the details. A recruiter will make your new hire feel both welcome and prepared by sending a gift along with resources so they’re ready to rock and roll on day one.
Though this guide has provided all the tools you need to recruit yourself, when you consider the toll on time and return on investment, you will likely see the benefit in entrusting it to a professional.
“If you consider the worth of a doctor to your practice, and that by bringing in a doctor you are immediately increasing your revenue. Whatever the initial price may be from hiring a recruiter, your doctor is going to make that up very, very quickly.”
— Robert Mediavilla, Eyes On Eyecare Customer Success Associate

Happy hiring!

Adding an optometrist to your team who will grow your business, increase your visibility, bring new ideas and skills, and make a positive impact on the community is a decision you simply will not regret. Conversely, choosing the wrong candidate could lead to HR issues, unhappiness within the practice, and having to start the whole process over again.
Therefore, you can only benefit from investing the time, energy, and money to find the right optometrist—and hire them as quickly as possible. Whether you choose to set off on the recruiting adventure on your own or hire a professional as your guide, adhere to our advice and you should soon be celebrating the hire of your newest optometrist.
Donna Ison
About Donna Ison

Donna Ison is the Senior Editor of Eyes on Eyecare. Formerly, she served as editor-in-chief of MD-Update magazine, managing editor of skirt! Magazine Lexington, and a content/copy editor with BobVila.com. She is performance poet, playwright, and the author of two novels, with a third on the way.

Donna Ison
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