Autumn is my favorite time of year. Leaves change, college football starts and you can open the windows again. I love raking leaves, picking apples and carving pumpkins. Of course, it is a different story once I head to the office.

I am a headhunter (technically a dental recruiting consultant, but that’s a bit stuffy for my taste). I talk with thousands of dentist and dental practice owners every year. I match practices with dentists who share the practice owner’s vision, offer a compatible personality and fit into the clinical skill set needed. Most of my time is spent interviewing and consulting with dentists who are confidentially looking for along-term opportunity.

This time of year, the conversation inevitably turns to the state of the dental job market. Is the economy affecting the market? Could be, but probably not. The practice owners I speak with aren’t generally doing any worse than they have been, though many are nervous about adding staff right now. The real reason for the slow job market is the calendar.

Let me explain. The vast majority of dentists enter the job market shortly after graduating from dental school or finishing a residency. Most contracts run on a yearly basis and so new grads enter the market at the same time that current dentists decline to extend their contracts. Also, many delayed partnership or ownership transitions schedule buy-in after a set number of years only to have the negotiations fall apart, effectively ending the working relationship. This results in a fairly consistent yearly job cycle with the most jobs available mid-year and again in January as practices make new year plans.

Dentist and practice owners aren’t generally planning their next associate arrangement months ahead of time. As discussed in a previous blog, it often takes 3-4 months to find the ideal match but many owners do not begin to interview until one to two months before they expect to fill the position. Take a look at the graph below. You will see that there are always jobs available but the variety of jobs varies dramatically under or above the yearly average of new positions per month.

Does this mean that you should wait until the summer before adding an associate or looking for a new job? Absolutely not. Practices are always growing, relationships fall apart and, in general, life happens. Do not let the job market cycle delay your plans, but do allow for more time to find the right position or the right associate, particularly in small to medium-sized markets.

In the meantime, enjoy the wonderful weather!

“No spring nor summer beauty hath such grace
As I have seen in one autumnal face.”
~John Donne

Posted by Morgan Pace, Senior Dentist Recruitment Consultant with ETS Dental. To find out more, call Morgan at (540) 491-9102 or email at

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