Nailing your first Veterinary Job in Challenging Times: 6 Key Tactics
You have successfully completed your studies and practical skills placements, and gained your Degree or Certification and you are actively networking and applying, and with good interest being shown…but even though there is a recognized shortage of veterinary professionals across all levels, despite popular opinion, you need more than a pulse, a degree and state registration to get your first veterinary job. And then there is a global pandemic causing all kinds of uncertainty.
Finding a practice to put your newly acquired skills to work in an entry-level role has always been a challenge, and now even more so, so here are six proven tactics to help you secure your first job as a brand new Veterinarian, Vet Tech or Veterinary Nurse in these challenging times…
Learn how to Zoom…for interviews…
If you thought face-to-face interviews were tough, a Zoom or Webex interview can be equally so, but they don’t have to be.
Practice, practice, practice. Get your friends to do a few mock online interviews and record them. See how your background looks, see how you look and how you sound, and get familiar with the controls like how to dial back in if the audio drops out. And always wear pants, always. – Matt Lee, Vet & Pet Jobs
Working on your background, lighting, sound and framing are the online equivalent of dressing for success, but remember, in the end, it is your talent, knowledge and interpersonal skills that employers are still looking for. That’s why you practice, so that the online environment doesn’t become a distraction. Don’t forget that this can be pretty new for the employer or HR professional too. And just like in real life, turn up early so that you can get connected, test your audio and video – most of the business video platforms have a virtual waiting room so that you can join early, test everything and everyone can start on time. And yes, do wear pants 🤣
Many first-time job applicants are surprised to hear that eager yet inexperienced job seekers will often have an edge over experienced individuals who show a lower level of enthusiasm or drive. In fact, a study of 1,000 employers showed that two-thirds of business owners said they would hire a candidate with the right attitude over a job seeker with the perfect skills and the wrong mindset.
Enthusiasm and preparation is what employers are looking for in their new workers, employment insiders say…They are calling for jobseekers to take the time to show their prospective boss they are serious about working for their company by showing them a hard-working attitude. – Cara Jenkin, Career One
So by all means be professional, but not so “too cool for school” that you could be misunderstood as not being interested – be enthusiastic and let it shine through.
As you apply for entry-level jobs, you need to forge ahead in spite of being rejected by some hospitals or clinics, even lots. Often you will apply for some positions and never receive a response from them – so follow up and be proactive.
Once you graduate, finding that first role requires more persistence as again, it is hard to find a Clinic that will take on a “green” Veterinary Professional – although…building a team for the long haul is the foundation of success. Which means investing in fresh team members with the latest knowledge and nurturing them to become the experienced Vet Nurses of tomorrow. – Marc Savage, Medical Director
Remember that in this unusual time that we live in, regrettably, this is normal. So yes, do make an initial call before you send your resume. Do follow up after sending in your CV and Cover Letter (always send a practice-specific Cover Letter), and do ask when they will be conducting interviews. And yes, do ask for an interview.
Don’t lose heart. Only a small percentage of job applicants are ever contacted for an interview. Sadly, the remaining applicants are immediately eliminated from consideration and rarely receive a response.
Present letters of recommendation
This still applies, online or offline. Two or three letters of recommendation will give you a head start in the race for an entry-level position. Even if you are a young student with limited employment experience, a positive endorsement can be a difference-maker. Here are a few points to consider as you gather letters of recommendation:
- Good prospects include professors and veterinarians who know your strengths and capabilities
- You may also wish to include favorable letters from your placement supervisors and colleagues
- Include a copy of each letter with your resume when you submit your application for employment
- Have a second copy, printed and electronic, with you for your interview in case the hiring manager never received them, offer to send them across again at the start of the online interview
Express a willingness to work non-traditional hours
In non-pandemic times, most job seekers will prefer working a standard workweek, daytime and on weekdays. Few will openly express eagerness about working weekends, overtime, or on holidays. However, veterinary emergencies are unpredictable, and there is a growing need for Vets, Techs and Nurses who are willing to work non-traditional hours, especially in E&CC, so you may want to actively suggest that you are happy to work some of the less popular shifts to get a start – and remember, it won’t be forever, but if it gets you your first job it is worth it.
Send thank you emails
One of the most effective ways to stand out from the crowd is to send thank you notes to the Veterinarians or hiring managers who interviewed you. Only 5% of interviewees send a thank you note after an interview, so sending a note will really help you rise above the competition. Here are some points to keep in mind as you prepare thank you notes:
- Send your note within 24 hours, always
- Send an email as snail mail is highly inconsistent at the moment
- Make sure you spell the recipient’s name and title correctly
- Reiterate your desire and readiness to serve as a member of their animal health team
Maintaining a positive, proactive approach is critical when seeking an entry-level job as a DVM, Veterinary Technician or Veterinary Nurse. By following the tips above, you can separate yourself from the crowd of applicants and make a memorable impression on hiring managers. Ultimately, you will position yourself for your dream career as these unusual times soon start to dissipate.
You have worked hard for this, you deserve this opportunity. Now go and get it 🤗.
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