Whether it’s your first vet job after graduating or a more experienced position, you want it to be the perfect role for you at that stage of your career. Find out how you can improve your employability with our top tips to landing your dream job in the veterinary industry…
Think about what employers are looking for…
So, you can stand out. It’s not just academic merit that makes a successful vet and valued team member. No matter what stage of career you are at employers will expect a general standard of clinical skills and knowledge from your university education and are looking for someone with excellent interpersonal skills, who is professional and motivated to learn.
When surveyed, veterinary employers listed:
- Excellent communication skills
- Being an ‘all-rounder’ (having a broad range of skills)
- A strong work ethic
- High standards of client and patient care
- A caring nature
- Being ambitious and proactive
As their most valued traits or skills in a potential employee. When it comes to writing your application, think about specific examples or situations where you have clearly demonstrated these skills, traits, and values.
Social Media and your Personal Brand
Employers are now more than ever looking to social media, even within the veterinary profession, and it’s important to put your best foot forward. Consider making your personal social media accounts private and ensure that any visible photos or content represents you in a positive and professional light.
A LinkedIn profile can be highly advantageous for networking, so use your profile to highlight specialties you’re passionate about, your future career aspirations, and things that make you a well-rounded human such as your hobbies and interests.
Preparation is Key
Before you begin the job application process, it’s important to do your research. Make sure you’ve reviewed their company website and social media. What are their core values? What services do they offer? What sort of equipment (e.g. ultrasound, digital radiography) do they have? Do the specialties of their current veterinary staff match your own interests?
You wouldn’t go into an exam unprepared, so learn as much as you can about their business. Read the job advertisement closely and highlight the keywords (skills, competencies, and values). This will allow you to tailor your application to match their ‘ideal candidate’ as closely as you can.
CV and Cover Letter tips for Vets
Think of your CV as a collection of your greatest hits, and keep them relevant to the job you’re applying for. This may mean writing a new CV for each job! For example, if you’re applying for a small animal veterinarian position, highlight EMS placements that reflect this experience.
Think about other ways you can stand out and present yourself as a well-rounded person- this might be academic awards, committee roles, or your hobbies and interests.
Don’t forget your CV basics:
– Use a professional template and font – it must be clear and easily read
– Tailor your CV to each job you apply for
– Use keywords taken from the advert in your phrasing
– Keep it no longer than two A4 pages
– Ask someone to proof-read for you- even better if they have industry experience
– Run it through a spelling and grammar check
– Keep it to the point (no waffling or repetition) and use specific examples
If the CV is your greatest hits, the cover letter is the trailer for the movie. Here you need to show your enthusiasm and passion for the role, think about what you can bring to the practice. There are countless resources available on structuring cover letters and CVs and it’s worth doing your research.
Professionalism and attention to detail are paramount – always make sure you address your cover letter correctly, including the clinic name and name of the person you are addressing it to. If you aren’t sure who you should address the email to, call the clinic and ask- they’ll remember you in a positive light!
At the Interview
Your first impression starts with your professional appearance, so it’s important to be well-groomed and dressed appropriately for the job you’re applying for. Whilst you wouldn’t show up to a mixed-practice interview in a full suit and tie, you still want to show your future employers that you care and are to be taken seriously as a professional.
It’s always a good idea to bring your stethoscope, work boots, scrubs, and protective gear with you in the car, as some employers might get you to stay on for the morning and help out in the clinic to get a better idea of your personality and skills.
Remember your preparation: the interview is about finding out why you are the right person for the job, but also why you want the job. What opportunities will it give you and what are your aspirations? Think about any questions you want to ask them too.
Though interviews are always intimidating and most of us will be nervous, take some deep breaths beforehand, and try to be warm and engaging- a strong handshake and a smile will often get you off to a good start. Remember, employers are looking for someone that has excellent interpersonal and communications skills, not just veterinary skills, to fit in with their team.
What if I Have a Video Interview?
More and more interviews are being conducted over video chat. Make sure you are prepared for an interview in this format, especially if you’ve never done one before. It’s a good idea to practice with friends and family members beforehand.
They can give you feedback on your set-up and body language – this is especially important when it comes to making ‘eye-contact’ and working out how to set-up your camera to engage with your interviewer as much as possible.
Make sure you are comfortable with the platform and have tested it before the interview- there’s nothing worse than being told you need to update an app or download something right before an important meeting.
Professional grooming and dress code of course still applies over video, but also consider your lighting and set-up (your backdrop should be tidy and not a distraction- a neutral wall works well). At the time of your interview make sure no one at home will unexpectedly interrupt you and all devices and notifications are silenced. Then log on with a smile on your face, ready to be yourself!
Whilst all employers will consider your clinical skills, they’re likely to be more interested in your enthusiasm, professionalism, and communication skills when you’re applying for a veterinary job.
You can improve your employability and boost your salary by clearly highlighting these aspects on your CV and cover letter, by researching the practice in advance of an interview, and by starting off with a confident smile and handshake.
The Vet Service is a specialist digital recruitment platform for the veterinary industry. If you are looking for a new position, take a look at our range of vet jobs including positions in the UK, Australia and New Zealand.