Last autumn, Team Locum introduced its new Permanent Optometry Division, which is already generating a buzz in time-honoured Team Locum fashion. Why such interest, so soon? Well, as we mentioned in the introductory post, Team Locum is a well established brand, with a wide-ranging list of contacts. Furthermore, the division is being driven forward by highly skilled recruitment experts. But Team Locum has always held a few little secrets – special advantages, which make the company a leader in its field. One such special advantage, is the candidate application process…
THE APPLICATION PROCESS
As a specialist healthcare agency, Team Locum is bound by the law to make certain checks, and to maintain standards of proficiency in relation to all the healthcare professionals it provides to clients. But it’s the agency’s understanding of the value within an application’s information quota that makes a telling difference.
For Team Locum, the application structure is not simply a series of legal formalities. It’s a means of differentiating between the diversity of skills offered by individual healthcare professionals. All optical businesses know that one optometrist is not the same as the next, and each practice requires a slightly different focus of skills. That’s why optical businesses need a specialist agency. But if a specialist agency is not determining, at square one, the precise areas in which each candidate will excel, there’s no point in the client using a specialist agency at all.
As one would expect, the Team Locum recruitment process requires proof of all essential documentation, including the professional necessities like GOC registration, indemnity insurance, etc. But the agency also requires verified references from two separate professionals. And there’s a lot more to a set of references than some people realise…
WHY ARE REFERENCES IMPORTANT?
If you know Team Locum, you won’t be expecting a statement of the obvious here – and you’ll be pleased to know that your instincts are spot on. References are often considered a Yes/No affair. There’s a line of doom down the middle. Anything below the line of doom is unacceptable. Anything above the line is fine. End of story. But at Team Locum, that’s not even the first chapter.
Naturally, poor or indifferent references are inevitably going to close down an application, but in a broader sense, Team Locum sees referencing as a more complex issue, and believes that references are as beneficial for applicants as they are for clients.
FOR THE CLIENT
Given the severe difficulty businesses experience in finding optometrists, there might be a temptation for some agencies to place very light emphasis on referencing. But placing a heavier emphasis on referencing has brought extremely favourable results across the breadth of Team Locum. Not only does referencing weed out applicants who won’t meet the required standard – it also frequently gives an early guide as to the key points within an applicant’s skillset.
References can be especially informative for the exact reason that some people dismiss them as a simple “yes” or “no”: they’re concise and to the point. References so typically home in on an applicant’s best recognised strengths, and highlight them in a way that can be much more difficult to isolate within a CV.
Each client is different, and not all have the same requirements. One client might seek an optometrist who can work very quickly. Another might be happier with an applicant who has a more moderate pace, but converts at a very high rate. These are the details references can instantly reveal. And because the information comes from third party professionals with no personal interest in the application, it’s generally very reliable.
FOR THE CANDIDATE
But candidates should not see referencing as an inconvenience, or as something purely in the client’s interests. Referencing helps all good applicants or candidates. Here are some of the reasons why…
Thorough referencing as an agency policy reassures the more select and prestigious clients, and therefore opens up a much greater choice of placement options for the candidate. It might be easier for an applicant to register with an agency whose protocols are less rigorous, but if that agency doesn’t have such an impressive client list, the applicant will be limiting his or her life prospects just to make an application slightly more convenient. That’s a profoundly false economy.
The referencing process is a fantastic opportunity for an applicant to sell an impressive track record. If you look at the world of sales, you’ll see companies paying vast sums of money for third party endorsement. Sometimes, the outlay runs into £millions for a celebrity’s seal of approval. That investment pays because people trust a third party. A great reference has immense value to a candidate, because it sells in the same way.
With great references in hand, a skilled Recruitment Consultant can not only match the candidate with their perfect role – they can also provide the client with an impartial and highly convincing summary of the candidate’s most desirable capabilities. The reference almost becomes a personal advert for the candidate.
Referencing also cuts down on unfair competition. When agencies don’t properly reference their candidates, there’s no clear rejection filter for inferior applicants. If inferior applicants are not rejected, it’s not only bad news for clients – it’s also bad news for the best candidates, whose chances of gaining the best and most suitable positions may not be so clear-cut.
But with a lot of candidates still in employment when applying for new positions, referencing has a very sensitive element to it. Candidates are always assured that Team Locum have the utmost sensitivity towards the often delicate situation of approaching referees. The time is right to approach a referee only when the candidate says the time is right.
FINDING THE MATCH
Some recruitment processes incorporate a fairly rigid questionnaire, but the Team Locum approach is far more two-way in nature. It’s very much about dialogue. Encouraging applicants to talk and express themselves, rather than hitting them with a script. In fact, it can be the questions asked by applicants, as opposed to the questions they answer, that point to some of the most relevant matching criteria.
Matching a candidate with a client’s needs still, however, requires the investment of a lot of time. There’s no substitute for that time investment.
But there’s also no substitute for good vetting. A recruitment process can be sensitive and caring towards candidates without skipping around the vital verifications and dialogue. The most caring policy for any agency is one that finds both candidate and client their ideal match. That ideal match does not result from cutting corners.