February 22, 2019 by Meredith Metsker
When John Whitaker first began looking for dental hygienists in Denver, he quickly discovered it would be nearly impossible to recruit any.
Whitaker is the vice president of talent acquisition for DentalOne Partners, which hires dentists, hygienists, and support staff for dental clinics all over the U.S. He knows better than anyone how competitive the dental market is. In fact, according to Whitaker, the unemployment rate for dental hygienists is as low as 0.4% in some markets.
Basically, if a hygienist wants to work, they have their pick of job opportunities.
And in Denver, it’s especially challenging. The median compensation for hygienists is about 18% higher than the national average and shows no sign of slowing. Not to mention, DentalOne faces intense competition from other companies trying to recruit hygienists. The Denver market, in Whitaker’s opinion, is becoming the norm rather than the exception as demand continues to outpace supply.
“You can see the density of qualified people in that market, versus the number of job openings. It’s pretty easy math. There’s just not enough people qualified to do the job,” Whitaker said.
Knowing his chances at recruiting and retaining hygienists in Denver were slim, Whitaker turned to Emsi’s Talent Analyst tool.
After seeing in Talent Analyst how difficult it would be to recruit in Denver, Whitaker used the tool to see where else he should look. Based on the data, he discovered little “pockets” of qualified hygienists in a few remote areas of New Mexico where the demand for dental hygienists was relatively low.
From one of those areas alone, Whitaker said he’s already recruited and relocated a handful of hygienists to Denver.
“They thought the offer we presented for Denver was wonderful compared to where they were in New Mexico. It’s all a matter of perspective, depending on where you are geographically located. People willing to relocate can literally have their pick of jobs,” Whitaker said.
In addition to looking out of state, Whitaker also used Emsi data to increase DentalOne’s compensation offerings in Denver to be more competitive.
“The format of the reporting made it easy for me to present the case to senior leadership,” Whitaker said.
As a result, the DentalOne team has filled 75% of the company’s open Denver jobs—a performance that did not seem possible until they implemented a data-driven strategy powered by Emsi’s practical insights.
“For my CEO, the cost of having an open position greatly exceeds the cost of maybe bumping up our compensation plan. So, he’s thrilled,” Whitaker said.
While Whitaker doesn’t describe himself as analytical, he loves to work with data he can trust—something he values about Emsi.
“That’s one of the things that makes working with Emsi so much fun. You know you’re getting meaningful data,” Whitaker said.
He also understands the importance of data to the future of talent acquisition. In a tight, candidate-driven labor market, Whitaker said he needs data to know what he’s up against. Especially when it comes to compensation.
And now, Whitaker’s results speak for themselves. Using Emsi data, Whitaker hired over 120 dentists and 800 hygienists and support staff in 2018 alone.
Calling Talent Analyst a “slam dunk for talent acquisition,” Whitaker said using the tool has turned him into a labor market/hiring climate expert at DentalOne.
“When you have data to prove some of your assumptions, that goes a long way for your more business-oriented operations people. It changes the whole attitude of what they think about talent acquisition,” Whitaker said.
Meredith Metsker is a data journalist at Emsi. Contact her at email@example.com.