Why Externships Are a Win-Win for Students and Practices

Fourth-year externships are an integral part of any Doctor of Audiology (Au.D.) program at an accredited university. But that doesn’t mean that externship programs only favor students. In this post, I’ll explain how the externship system is a win-win for both fourth-year externs and the clinics that employ them.

Side note: normally, externships for 2021 would be filled by now, but it’s not been a normal year. If you are considering an externship for the fall, now is the time to take action and start planning.

Benefits for Students

Most doctoral candidates in audiology are required by their institutions to complete a certain number of hours of supervised clinical practicum at an off-campus clinical site during a 12-month externship. This real-world, hands-on experience is crucial for audiology students to gain the necessary skills and knowledge to work with a variety of populations and disorders in different settings. It also helps them develop their ability to evaluate and integrate scientific research into clinical practice. In a nationwide survey, fourth-year audiology students ranked “scope of practice at the facility” as the most important factor in determining a desirable externship placement, followed by “type of facility” and “ability to work with other professionals.” I recently spoke to three four-year externs—two of whom work at VA hospitals and one at the prestigious Cleveland Clinic. Each student shared with me that their experiences helped them decide what they want to specialize in. Some of those decisions include treating adults versus pediatric patients, working in a more clinical (hospital, ENT) setting versus a dispensing environment (private practice), and determining what technologies/hearing aid manufacturers they’re most comfortable using. Students with an entrepreneurial spirit or interest in sales and marketing can choose to extern at private practice to learn firsthand what it takes to run a hearing healthcare business. This experience will either encourage their desire to open their own practice after graduation (and put them in a better position to succeed when they do) or confirm they’d be happier working for a hospital, university, or ENT. So, how does hiring an extern stand to benefit a practice owner or director of ENT clinic or hospital audiology department?

Benefits for Clinics

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the national employment rate of audiologists is expected to grow much faster than average through the year 2028.
In fact, the BLS predicts that an additional 2,200 audiologists will be needed to fill the demand between now and 2028. That’s a 16% increase in job openings.
With this large disparity between supply and demand for audiologists, practice owners should do everything in their power to build a pipeline of potential providers. Employing a fourth-year extern allows a clinic to “test drive” a potential full-time permanent employee. That student can also bring in a fresh perspective from their schooling, especially when it comes to advances in technology. There’s a good chance that if the extern has a good experience, they will strongly consider staying at that clinic once he/she graduates. It’s important to note that each of the 70+ accredited Doctorate of Audiology programs in the country has its own established guidelines for clinics interested in becoming an externship site. This includes everything from the required number of hours of clinical experience students need to complete to the specific type of clinical work students need to be exposed to. Some universities require that supervising audiologists be ASHA certified (i.e. have a Certificate of Clinical Competence in Audiology from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association). Externship sites are not required to provide monetary compensation, however, most do and offer it in the form of a stipend or a regular paycheck.

Conclusion

The fourth-year externship has always been and will continue to be, a crucial pathway in the field of audiology. Students gain valuable practical experience after three years of vigorous study while clinics can closely evaluate someone who could be a key contributor to their future growth and success. It’s the ultimate win-win in a field that has a very bright and expanding future.
Still not sure if hiring a fourth-year extern is the right decision for your practice? Need help recruiting Au.D. students in your area? Consult YHN’s experienced recruiters can help! Talk to your Account Manager or contact our Recruiting Department today at recruiting@consultyhn.com.

About the Author

Ira Disman joined Consult YHN in 2011 as the recruiter for home office and field sales positions. He started his career as an agency recruiter in the insurance industry and then worked as a Corporate Recruiter for the PWC Consulting practice and the software company Synygy/Optymyze. Ira holds a bachelor’s degree from Babson College and an MBA (Human Resources) from Drexel University. When not working, he enjoys getting his money’s worth on the golf course by hitting many, many shots during a round.

Candidate Care: Why It Matters and Five Tips to Improve It

One thing we know about today’s candidate market is that it will be more competitive tomorrow. And, as hiring becomes more aggressive, a skills shortage is soon to follow.
Don’t let the record high unemployment rate fool you—the healthcare job market is just as competitive as it was pre-pandemic. That’s why it’s important to understand the factors that impact your business’s approach to finding, attracting, and retaining top talent.

It’s important to provide your candidates consistent support. For example, I call candidates to ensure they are prepared for their upcoming interviews and then I also call candidates after the interview to see how it went. I do this because if I were the candidate, I would appreciate this level of attention and care.

Candidate care should start the second you first open a job requisition and extend all the way through the rest of the hiring process, regardless of whether the candidate is offered the job or not. The entire process is an opportunity for your practice to build a relationship with the candidate. Do everything right and he or she can become a spokesperson for your organization. Do it wrong and it could affect your company’s reputation and interview process moving forward.

Here are five reasons why the candidate experience matters along with helpful tips on how to improve your own:

1. It improves communication and trust

By going out of your way to find opportunities and update candidates, you’ll immediately foster a relationship of trust. Providing feedback, good or bad, will prevent you from burning any bridges. Maintaining regular communication with candidates through the hiring process will also keep you updated on the candidate’s overall job search (for example: if they receive and accept another job offer or decide to stay with their current employer). I make it a point to stay in touch with candidates that I think are impressive because even if they’re not a good fit for one position, they could be for another position down the road. One time, even though I had to pass on a candidate after our initial interview, she was so pleased with the process and my responsiveness that she referred someone else to the role. So, I can tell you from experience that candidate engagement and interest will come naturally if you put forth the effort.

The #1 way people discover a new job is through a referral

2. It influences interview outcomes

It’s important to keep in mind that the interview process can be daunting, especially for candidates who are new to the job market or have worked at the same company for many years. If you can help alleviate some of the stress they’re feeling, they might have a better chance of succeeding. Prepping candidates before they interview with the decision-maker is vital. For example, even though I prep candidates for front office positions before they interview with an office manager, it’s up to that office manager to then prep the remaining candidates before the final interview with the owner. Tell them who they will meet, what to bring, what to wear, and any other tips that might be beneficial. Afterward, provide feedback on any areas where they can improve so they can sharpen their interview skills. Job seekers want and appreciate constructive feedback.

94% of job seekers want to receive interview feedback

3. It creates allies and can strengthen your brand

Many candidates believe how they’re treated during the interview process is indicative of how they would be treated as employees. This is their first insight into what a typical day looks like at the company. In other words, they’re evaluating you just as much as you’re evaluating them. Any inefficiencies in your hiring process or lag in response time could be seen as red flags to potential hires. And if candidates have a negative experience with your practice, there’s no guarantee they’re going to keep it to themselves—they might tell their friends and family, they might post about it on their social media, they might even leave a review on Glassdoor. On the other hand, a positive candidate experience can propel your brand and lead to more referrals.

78% of candidates will tell friends and family about a bad interview experience

4. It increases the quality of hires and decreases the time to hire

By providing a superior candidate experience and making a good first impression, there’s a much greater chance that when you do extend an offer, it will be accepted. Research shows employers have only 10 days before qualified candidates disappear from the job market. An easy, user-friendly career page and application can speed up the process and ensure your perfect employee isn’t taken by the practice down the street. Consult YHN’s experienced recruiters can help streamline your practice’s hiring process by working with you to develop core competency models and job descriptions as well as interview and assessment questions. We’ll even prescreen candidates to evaluate their skills and provide timely feedback on each, allowing you to make the final hiring decision with greater confidence (while also conserving a lot of time and energy).

68% of candidates think the way a company treats them in the hiring process reflects how it treats its employees

5. It increases candidates’ likelihood to stay at the company long-term

Once an offer has been extended and accepted, be sure to check in with your new hires regularly. It shows that you care about how they are doing and that they are happy in their new role. Answer any questions and address any concerns they may have (questions about human resources policies/procedures, suggestions for improvements, etc.). Being there for them as they start their new position ensures that you’re able to work towards a solution, if needed, and that your placements become long-term.

Remember that a candidate’s experience doesn’t end the moment you extend an offer. Providing new employees with the resources to be successful and creating a positive workplace culture will help them become a valuable contributor to your practice’s growth. Every company has room to improve its candidate care. We should always be considering how we can improve our processes to attract an even higher caliber of talent. Doing right by people is always good business.

Take the stress out of staffing. Leave it to Consult Recruiting!

About the Author

Jason DiOttavio joined ConsultYHN as a Corporate Recruiter in 2011. Previously, he worked as an agency recruiter for a staffing firm specializing in IT/Administrative roles including such large companies as Dietz & Watson. When not working, Jason enjoys spending time with his wife and two young daughters. He’s also obsessed with cooking shows and finding new ice cream and donut shops.

Beyond the Resume: Finding the Right Candidate for Your Practice

There is more to recruiting than combing through a stack of resumes. Anyone can look good on paper. There are countless websites and resources devoted to helping job seekers paint their best selves on paper. It’s also easy to embellish or, even, lie on a resume.

Consult YHN’s recruiting team prides itself on being expeditious yet thorough when filling vacant positions in our practices. Our screening process begins with reviewing a candidate’s resume to consider his/her education, skills, and professional background.

However, it’s all about looking beyond the resume to discover the person behind it. This is the only way to gauge if a candidate will be a long-term asset to your business. Too many hiring managers overlook exceptional candidates simply because they don’t check off every box on their “must-have” list or fit their idea of “the perfect candidate.” One thing I’ve learned over the past 15 years of recruiting for Consult is that the best person for the job is not always the person you’d expect.

Below are six tactics we recommend to our Associates to help them identify the “right fit” for their practices.

1. Keep an open mind, especially when hiring for non-clinical roles.

You’re casting a very narrow net and potentially missing out on great candidates if you’re only willing to consider people with experience working in an audiology practice or the medical field. Over the years, I’ve placed numerous candidates in our practices with no prior industry experience who have developed into rock-star employees. For front office positions, I’ve had great success with candidates with sales and/or retail experience (more on that later).

There are five main questions you should answer before extending an offer—this is what matters the most:

  • Can the candidate do the job?
  • Is the candidate motivated to do the job?
  • Is the candidate interested in learning new skills?
  • Is the candidate coachable?
  • Is the candidate a good culture fit?

2. Hire for personality over competency.

If you’re a busy practice looking to fill a position quickly, it’s understandable that you’d want a candidate who can hit the ground running. But there are drawbacks to only interviewing based on skillset. Skills can be developed— however, traits, attributes, and attitudes that often make a candidate successful cannot be taught—they either have them or they don’t. Studies show that most new hires fail NOT because of technical competence (skills) but because of other factors relating to emotional intelligence (EQ).

EQ is that hard-to-describe, special something in a person that affects how they make decisions and navigate complex situations. When vetting a candidate, be sure to look at the following traits which are predictors for high levels of EQ:
  • Ability to learn and adapt to change
  • Response to stressful situations and constructive criticism
  • Teamwork and social skills
  • Integrity, honesty, and empathy
  • Determination and drive for success
  • Accountability/ownership of responsibilities
In the long run, practices are better off taking the time to properly onboard and train employees. Consult YHN’s weekly teletrainings and Employee Development Program (EDP) can ensure every member of your team has the skills needed to be effective in their roles.

3. Ask behavioral questions in your interviews.

This is the best way to get a feel for a candidate’s EQ. During interviews, ask candidates a question relating to conflict resolution. For example, “Tell me about a time that you had a disagreement with a co-worker (or customer) and how you resolved it?”

Then, consider the following:

  • Did they know what they did wrong?
  • Did they control their emotions/anger?
  • Did they really understand the other side?
  • Why did they seek to resolve the conflict? Did they engage for the right reasons?
  • How did they solve the issue? Were they mindful of the outcome or social cost?

When interviewing candidates with a sales/retail background, my ears perk up if they mention going out on the floor and approaching customers to help them with their purchases and/or upsell them on products (thus producing more sales for the store). I also make a note if they mention staying late, working weekends and holidays, or coming in when coworkers call out. What this says to me is that this person has a strong work ethic, is driven to succeed, knows how to be a team player, and can be flexible.

4. Ask more than just questions.

Incorporating role-playing exercises in your interview process will give you a better idea of how a candidate will perform in the role. If you’re hiring someone to answer phones, have him/her answer a mock phone call during the interview. Or, pretend to be a difficult patient in a common scenario and pay close attention to how well the candidate fares under the pressure.

5. Try to remain objective and elicit feedback from others.

There are dozens of unconscious biases that affect our judgment every day. We’re genetically programmed to like people who are like us and fear those who are different or unfamiliar. If a candidate reminds you of an employee you’ve had a positive or negative experience with previously, there’s a good chance it’s going to color your opinion of that person.

The easiest way to prevent biases from clouding your hiring decisions is to: A) be mindful of them, B) seek out other people’s opinions, and C) follow a uniform process in how you assess and interview candidates.

One of the benefits of working with Consult Recruiting is that we provide feedback for every candidate we screen. We also work with practices to develop core competency models and interview and assessment questions, all of which can help ensure your hiring process is fair and that every candidate is held to the same standards.

6. Pay attention to the details and focus on the facts.

Many job seekers are going to say whatever they think employers want to hear in interviews. Employers also tend to favor the most charismatic and well-spoken candidates. That’s why it’s important to try to read between the lines and look for concrete evidence wherever you can.

A few examples:

  • Take note of how long they worked for their past employers. Do they have a pattern of bouncing from job to job quickly or committing to jobs for a long time? Also, is there any overlap? Did they ever juggle two jobs or an internship/externship and a part-time job?
  • Ask for examples of specific achievements. How exactly did they engineer those achievements? Do they have any numbers to back up their claims?
  • Pay attention to the questions they ask. Are they insightful? Do they suggest the candidate is enthusiastic about the role? Did the candidate clearly research the industry and/or practice?
  • Read their body language. You can learn a lot about a candidate’s personality and level of interest in the opportunity from their gestures, posture, facial expressions, and eye contact.

Your employees are your most valuable asset. Behind every successful practice is a high-performing team of engaged and motivated individuals. That’s why it’s critical to make the right hiring decisions. Sometimes that means thinking outside the box and choosing a candidate who has the attitude and personality to positively influence your company’s culture over the most skilled and experienced candidate.   

There are a lot of diamonds in the rough—you just need the right lens and a little bit of polish to find them.

Find the right candidate for your practice!

About the Author

Dawn Bauer is a Senior Recruiter who has been with Consult YHN since 2003. Previously, she spent 15 years working in banking and accounting, including 2 years in Consult YHN’s billing department. When she’s not at work, you can find Dawn either on the beach, in a shoe store, or at a concert.

Four Fundamentals for Building a High-Performing Team

Managing an effective team requires several competencies and begins with the core values of the leader. These values set the tone for what’s needed to perform at a high level. Leaders must establish expectations from the beginning with their team. It’s key for you to outline what’s expected of your team and how you plan to hold them accountable.
As you begin to build your team, finding out what motivates them and which levers to pull will be key to driving higher performance. As a leader, you need to provide your team clear direction, a roadmap, and support and ensure they understand their growth potential. As a leader, there are four building blocks to consider in building and managing a high-performing team:

1.Culture

Culture is something that you can’t always see, but you can feel it. It’s often in the intangibles, the little things. Building a culture starts with building a TEAM, itself. It’s important to create an environment where everyone can thrive and be collaborative. Establish opportunities for your team to work together and understand each other’s roles right off the bat. These projects will help galvanize the group. Part of a performance culture is setting up a winning mentality. Confidence breeds success, and the more wins your team can attain, the faster you create a culture of winning. This also allows employees to gain ownership over their success. No matter the field of work, everyone wants to be part of a winning team and have ownership in it. So, establish some easy wins for your team!

2. Accountability

Accountability, like culture, must be instituted from the outset. Accountability is being consistent—consistent in your actions and your words. Lead by example – do what you say you’re going to do, and your team will, too. Setting clear and attainable goals is equally important to maintain and cultivate the buy-in culture you are trying to establish. Furthermore, when you set expectations, it is imperative to assess what you expect and provide timely feedback. This should be done through regular one-on-one meetings as well as throughout the day. Be sure to provide positive feedback on the activities your team is doing well. This will lend more weight when you must focus on areas of improvement – which is often more difficult to deliver, but important in terms of development and growth.

3. Motivation

Finding out what makes each of your team members tick is critical to creating a high-performing environment. As a leader, you will be part cheerleader, part coach, and even sometimes part psychologist. Finding out what motivates each individual is how you will unlock a higher level of performance from your group. Utilize one-on-one meetings to engage and learn more about your colleagues. Motivation can come in many forms, whether it is professional advancement, monetary gain, or the love of competition. As a sales manager, I create excitement and healthy competition amongst the group. You must give your team a reason to come to work, beyond the paycheck, if you want to see their performance increase.

4. Development

Developing your employee’s skillsets so they can perform the best in their current role and challenging them with stretch assignments is a major piece of team building. As a leader or coach, it’s important to look at each day as an improvement opportunity for yourself and your team. Identifying potential leaders within a team is key to an organization sustaining a competitive edge. You cultivate these individuals by delegating tasks, creating open forums for ideas, and communicating your vision of a collaborative structure. Challenge your employees, provide them an opportunity to step up and take on leadership responsibilities. Not only does this reinforce your confidence in them, but it also gives them a sense of what a leadership role entails. The open forum provides a space where each of your employees have a voice and can be heard. It also allows them to take ownership in the team’s endeavors and/or demonstrate leadership amongst their peers.

Everyone will have different ways to lead a team, but these four core tenets transcend across industries. Ultimately, communicating a clear vision is paramount to gaining buy-in. You need everyone pulling the rope in the same direction to achieve an exceptional level of performance. 

For help building and developing a high-performing team, trust Consult YHN’s industry-leading HR & Recruiting Solutions. Talk to your Account Manager or contact Recruiting@ConsultYHN.com today!

About the Author

Robert Strother has been the Inside Sales Director at Consult YHN since 2016 and has over 10 years of sales leadership experience. In that time, he has led high performing sales teams across an array of industries and developed multiple future sales leaders.

Getting it Right: Hiring for Culture and Employee Engagement in a Post COVID World

While today’s unemployment rate, due to the ongoing pandemic, is significantly higher than it was three months ago, it is sure to fall as the economy comes back and small businesses work to restore payroll and headcount in order to conform to Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan forgiveness parameters. Rest assured there will, once again, be more job openings than available candidates. And the cost of hiring will continue to rise as the candidate talent pool shrinks.

According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), it now costs over $4,000 to hire and onboard a single employee. When you consider the additional cost of employee churn (fees, onboarding, downtime, training, morale, etc.) it becomes easy to see that to have, and maintain, a successful business, you need to be competitive in your quest for hiring top talent (if you don’t hire the best, your competition surely will). COVID-19 has moved the goalposts, but the rules of the game remain the same.

If you received a PPP loan then you may need to hire staff quickly in order to restore payroll and headcount by December 31, 2020. Resist the temptation bring in additional staff to, merely, fill empty seats. If your PPP loan is not entirely forgiven then you are left with, at worst, a low interest loan that you have plenty of time to pay back. Careless hiring decisions in the service of getting 100 percent loan forgiveness should be avoided. As hard as it may be in these uncertain times, you should do your best to adhere to sound business strategies. Especially when it comes to hiring.

A good place to start when building a plan for hiring is with your culture. It’s “who you are.” It’s how your community, your customers, your employees, and your competitors perceive you. And it does not happen by accident. It’s best reflected by the team that you’ve assembled; for better or for worse. Think about your culture and whether it’s the one that you want? Now, think about what you have and think about controlling it.

The first step in creating the right culture is hiring the right people.

Many of us first consider an applicant’s skills when hiring. That makes perfect sense…or does it? There are biases at play when we make decisions. Confirmation bias and the “Halo Effect” can impact how we value skills and traits. And when we overvalue strong skills and undervalue troublesome traits, we could be setting ourselves up for failure (a bad hire).

A recent study on “Hiring for Attitude” suggests that most new hires fail NOT because of technical competence (skills), but because of other factors related to emotional intelligence, work ethic, coachability, self-motivation, and temperament. Remember that skills are relatively easy to develop while traits, attitudes, and attributes are not. And traits, attitudes, and attributes are what contribute to your culture—for better or worse.

When vetting a candidate for hire, make sure you’re looking at the following traits which are predictors for high levels of Emotional Intelligence (EQ):

During interviews, ask candidates a question relating to conflict resolution (for example: Can you tell me about a time that you had a disagreement with a co-worker and how you resolved it?) and then consider the following:

  • Did they know what they did wrong (self-awareness)?
  • Did they control their emotions/anger (self-regulation)?
  • Did they really understand the other side (empathy)?
  • Why did they seek to resolve the conflict? Did they engage for the right reasons?
  • Did they exhibit a certain social grace in solving the issue? Were they mindful of the outcome or social cost?

This exercise will give you a strong indication of the candidate’s EQ, covering many of the most important traits that contribute to a great culture. As you build your team around these traits, you’ll be rewarded with the culture that you deserve. The result: you become an “employer of choice” and have “brand champions” who will help curate your culture because:

  • They enjoy their job and don’t merely do it for the money
  • They look for opportunities to mentor
  • They demonstrate the behaviors of leaders
Creating a culture of growth and development is a great way to demonstrate your organization’s value to candidates. When you offer opportunities to learn and grow and can speak to the policies and procedures that you have in place to encourage growth, can offer examples, or, better yet, identify an evangelist within your organization who can speak to your culture of growth, you’ll be in a great position to attract like-minded employees.

A key thing to keep in mind as you evaluate or create your ideal culture is that the ideal work environment is one built on respectfulness, transparency, and fairness. And always remember: while people may ultimately come to work for you because of money, they will stay—or leave—because of your culture.

Consult YHN’s experienced recruiters can help you attract, vet, and develop a team that will define the company culture you’ve always strived for. Talk to your Account Manager today or contact our Recruiting Department at recruiting@consultyhn.com.

About the Author

Ernie Paolini is responsible for Human Resources and Recruiting Services at Consult YHN. He has more than 20 years of experience in building and managing technology-driven HR and recruitment organizations. His areas of expertise include behavioral interviewing, employee relations, compliance, and onboarding.

Rethinking Business Done Well

I recently sat down over a two-day period with the Owners and Directors of Operations of 15 large hearing care practices. This group collectively represents some of the more efficient organizations in our industry, each one easily within the top five percent in terms of direct impact delivered and overall revenue.

Over the course of the meetings, we discussed industry dynamics, marketing tactics, and P&L (Profit & Lost) performance: all subjects that influence almost every business in our profession, big and small.

However, none of the above topics drove the most curiosity and ire from these highly proficient business leaders or was the topic we spent the most time discussing.

leadership-narrowDo you want to know what topic we discussed the most?

Answer: team development and recruiting!

Even with all the success these business leaders have had, they still struggle to earn buy-in from their teams in order to drive performance and cement a commitment to excellence. And, like so many other employers, they also still struggle to find and retain the most skilled individuals to help service their patients.

Some were caught in a constant state of hiring, training, and replacing team members so frequently that in one case, sadly, they admitted not knowing the full name of every employee on their payroll.

“We’ve seen the enemy,” one owner said. “And it’s us.”

Overstated perhaps, but even those most confident in their circumstances admitted a desire to see greater drive in their employees and greater results from their teams.

The truth is, the single greatest strength for a company is its people and the single most volatile variable for business success is leadership. In fact, unless you’re a true one-person practice, your best hope for growth and sustainability is to scale your expertise and patient focus beyond your direct influence through your staff.

Even the highest performing practices are beginning to rethink the way that they do business in order to drive real results.

Maybe you should, too.

The best advice we can offer is to…

  1. Fall in love with your patients again—not your products and services—and teach your team to do the same.
  2. Thread your WHY through every narrative, from marketing to attracting, hiring, and developing your dream team.
  3. Understand that it’s a buyers’ market for employees and take the time to understand what motivates each (current or prospective) team member then learn how to tie it to performance.
  4. Let Consult YHN help you find experienced candidates who will positively influence and integrate into your practice then continuously develop their skills.

In other words, take advantage of the national, industry-leading support system that Consult YHN provides. This includes our full lifecycle Recruiting Services and the Consult Employee Development Program (EDP) which offers regional classes throughout the year for every member of your staff to ensure they’re working together harmoniously, efficiently, and with an “opportunity mindset.”

About the Author

Cliff Carey is an Account Manager in our East Region. With nearly 20 years of business and management experience, Cliff joined Consult YHN in early 2019 to lead our associates in New York and northern New Jersey. Cliff’s diverse background in business strategy, systems analysis, human resource and team development, and marketing and consumer engagement have helped him to drive for operational success and revenue growth both in and outside of hearing healthcare.