Thursday, June 19, 2014

Dental Associate Agreement and Employment Contract: Is it In line With What I Should Expect, and Is it Reasonable?

This time of year is prime time for employment changes across the dental industry.  May through August is always the busy time.  Dentists are completing residency programs, dental students are graduating, and they are all going to be reviewing employment agreements now or very soon.

Here are a few things to consider:

1)      What is the commitment?  1 year; 3 years; can you give reasonable notice if you are unhappy or dissatisfied in the practice
a.       Most are 1 year
b.      If you receive a sign-on bonus or relocation incentive expect to commit to 2+ years.  Typically, if you leave before your commitment you will need to pay back any bonus money you receive
c.       Notice periods across the nation have grown beyond the normal 2 week courtesy.  Many agreements now require 30, 60, or 90 day of resignation notice

2)      Want to associate in your home town and eventually own a practice in your home town?  Be cautious of non-competes and restrictive covenants that would cause significant headaches in the future.  Especially if your hometown is a small town. 

3)      Are you an Employee (W-2) or an Independent Contractor (1099)?  Associate positions throughout the dental industry vary greatly.  W-2 employment is most likely what you truly are. That means the employer takes your tax withholding and takes responsibility of the daily operations of the practice.  1099 contractors are simply paid for services rendered.  If this is your status, you are required to fulfill the entire tax obligation of your income. 

4)      Production versus collections-based compensation:  You need to understand which way you are getting paid, when it is calculated, and what is included and not included
a.       Is it calculated daily, weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, and quarterly? Many dentist don’t know when I ask them
b.      Are x-rays or hygiene exams included? Many times there are not
c.       Lab Expenses:  are you responsible for all, some, or none of the lab expense?

5)      Base compensation questions:
a.       Is it permanent or does it sunset after x number of months?
b.      Is it a draw on future commission or is it a salary?

6)      Be Realistic!  Associate offerings on the East Coast are vastly different than those on the West Coast.  Make sure to understand the compensation trends and models that are common in your market.  Don’t compare offers to your friends, especially if you’re only talking % versus %.  That completely depends on the production potential based on a combination of what the practice can provide and the abilities of the associate dentist.

Other articles to explore:
·         Associate Agreements

 Posted by Carl Guthrie, Senior Dentist Recruitment Consultant with ETS Dental. To find out more, call Carl at (540) 491-9104 or email at

Friday, June 6, 2014

The Recruiter's View: Candidates Continue to Drive the Growing Job Market and Retention is Equally Important as Recruitment

Over the past few years, recruiters in the executive and managerial space have been observing a shift from an employer-driven market to a largely candidate-driven market. As this trend continues, new data indicates that improved confidence in the labor market and the availability of more job opportunities are creating an environment where top performers are more willing to change companies to fill newly created roles and vacancies from resignations. While this may be encouraging to prospective employers, current employers will need to place equal emphasis on employee retention strategies as they do on their recruitment efforts. Recruiters who responded to the most recent MRINetwork Recruiter Sentiment Study provide advice to employers who seek to remain attractive to employees and potential new hires.

"The competition for leadership talent is brutal right now. There is tremendous pressure to attract new talent and hold on to those already employed," said a recruiter responding to the study.  According to the report, in the first half of 2014, 81 percent of recruiters described the talent market as candidate-driven, up 25 percentage points from the first half of 2012.

The executive and managerial market continues to be candidate-driven, because of growing talent shortages due to skill gaps. Companies in most industries and geographic regions are now in growth mode, leaving top performers at a strong advantage, with multiple job offers to consider and the ability to reject less desirable work agreements. According to the study, 31 percent of recruiters say the top reason that great candidates continue to refuse job offers is because they are accepting offers with other companies. Disappointing compensation is on the rise, with 26 percent of recruiters listing this as the second most common reason that job offers are turned down.

MRINetwork recruiters provide the following insight about rejected job offers:

  • More than ever, highly-skilled, top-performing candidates are in demand.
  • Candidates have more options than they have had in years. Yet clients still want to give low-ball offers.
  • Candidates are often turned off when companies do not keep the process moving, making the closing process all the more difficult if it gets to the offer stage.
  • Counteroffers are still a common reason for offers being turned down, in which most candidates receive substantially more money and a promotion from their current employer.

With more top performers on the move, the candidate-driven market points to several things:

  • Leveraging employer branding is not just about selling the company and the job opportunity, it is about the overall impression left by the entire recruitment process. "If a company appears to be disjointed in its branding, saying one thing but doing another, candidates will be turned off," says an MRINetwork recruiter.
  • A streamlined hiring process is critical to avoid losing top candidates. One recruiter notes, "Time is the enemy when recruiting exceptional talent, because ... the longer the process goes on, the less likely the candidate will be around to take the offer."
  • Salary and benefit packages need to be aggressive, not simply market-competitive, to entice "A" players who have several job options at their disposal.

While the study results demonstrate that hiring trends are highly favorable towards top performers in the executive and managerial space, recruitment and retention will continue to be ongoing challenges for overall hiring as the economy recovers and the job market expands.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Dental School Graduates - How to Find a Job Coming Out of Dental School

Congratulations! Now it is time to start putting all that education to use, but finding a job is a lot different than applying to programs. Do you know how to get started?

What To Have

A Plan.
Do you know where you want to be in five years? Do you want your first job to put you on the path to partnership or ownership? Are you more concerned with gaining experience than paying down student loans? You need to know where you want to go before you can decide how to get there. Obviously location is important, but don't waste the crucial first years of your career in order to live in the heart of the city. 
The best jobs are often outside the primary markets where there is less competition for patients. Here is great blog outlining the best areas in which to work: Where are the Jobs?’. 
If you are considering a cross-country move, you may want to consider the income potential offered in different regions. This blog article breaks dentist income down by area: What Can an Associate Dentist Earn
If you absolutely have to live and work in a saturated market, here are some strategies to help you land a job: Saturated or Difficult Markets.

Be sure to set realistic income expectations. There are several good sources covering realistic dentist earnings. Here is our overview: 
How Much do Dentists Make?
The Levin Group publishes an annual survey in Dental Economics. The 2013 version can be downloaded here: Levin Group Survey.

A CV and Cover Letter.
Most applicants do not get an interview. Your CV and Cover Letter may be your only platform to distinguish yourself from the competition. It is hard to stand out from the crowd without experience but the way you highlight your strengths can set you apart. Did you take any electives or win any awards to recognition? Did you graduate in the top quarter of your class, attend CE outside of school, volunteer in a community clinical or on a dental mission trip? Be sure to highlight those experiences.

Here is an example of a well-written cover letter: 
Cover Letter Sample.

And here are instructions on writing your CV/resume: 
Resume for Dentists.

The Right Clothes

It is better to overdress than underdress. Your future boss will want to know that you take your career seriously. Does your interview outfit make you look like a doctor? This is not the time to go for personality. That can come through later. If your clothes give the wrong first impression, it will take a major effort to regain credibility

What To Do

Finding Openings.
Networking has always been the most effective method for finding open positions, but it is not always practical to meet with every dentist in the area and attend every dental meeting. The internet can be a great tool for finding position. Your dental school and local association may have classifieds, but you will likely find that the listings are limited. Here are several comprehensive sources for dentist jobs:

·         ETS Dental Job Listings
·         DentalTown Classifieds


The Telephone Interview
  • Return your phone messages and emails promptly. It speaks to your motivation, interest, and courtesy. Don't let returning phone calls or emails become an issue or an obstacle to getting an interview. Even if you don't think you will be interested in an opportunity, return the call. On more than one occasion we have seen a candidate get a call from Practice B when he was already talking with Practice A. The candidate puts off returning the call to Practice B. Two or three weeks later, the opportunity with Practice A does not work out and now Practice B will not consider the candidate because no calls have been returned.
  • Your main goal in a telephone interview is to get a face-to-face interview.
  • Ask for the interview. Take the initiative to set a time. Say something like, "From what you have told me, I would be very interested in meeting with you and coming to see your practice. When would be good for you?"
  • Smile- even on the phone. You really can tell when someone is smiling.
·         Here is some additional reading on phone interviews: Tips for Phone Interviews.

The In-Person Interview:
Don't go in blindly. Be sure to prepare in advance. Look over this article the night before: 
Preparing for the Interview.
  • Treat the staff with courtesy and respect. A practice owner often feels like his or her staff is like a family and will listen to their opinions, especially if they are negative. On more than one occasion, we have seen excellent candidates not offered an opportunity because they treated a staff member poorly.
  • Smile and show some enthusiasm. More candidates are hired because of their personalities and positive attitudes than because specific clinical skills. One high-end cosmetic practice told us they had interviewed six different dentists. They hired the candidate who smiled and appeared to truly enjoy being a dentist, passing on more experienced candidates with less personality and enthusiasm.
  • Show sincere interest in the hiring dentist's situation. Understand that the dentist needs to solve a problem. Maybe the practice just lost a key associate or partner. Maybe the practice is growing and cannot keep up with patient demand. Maybe the dentist needs someone to take over the practice when he or she retires. You need to get a clear understanding of the dentist's true motivation for adding an associate. Once you truly understand the needs of the hiring dentist, you can mutually determine if you are the solution.
  • Send a thank you note after the meeting. Here is a great example of a post-interview thank you: Thank You Note.
Still nervous? Here is a full blog post on interviewing: Interview Tips.

Reviewing Contracts.
A good overview of contracts may be found here (the most relevant information is on the last page of the article): 
Compensation Considerations.

Do you have all the information you will need in order to make an informed decision? 
What to Know Before You Accept an Associate Position 

Not satisfied with the offer? Don't be afraid to ask for more. Here are some tips on 
Negotiating Your Offer.

Finding a job can be an intimidating process. I hope these resources will help make the process easier. Please feel free to call us should you have any questions. We are always happy to help. For more updates, tips, and helpful information, follow us on our 
Facebook fan pageTwitter, LinkedIn or on our blog.

Posted by Morgan Pace, Vice President and Senior Dental Recrutier with ETS Dental. To find out more, call Morgan at (540) 491-9102 or email at