This isn't a generic 'top tips'. Whether you’re looking for your first Veterinary Job or structuring your career path, this post delivers practical measures based on seven years of veterinary experience. All six steps are summarised and laid out for you throughout this article.
Know What You Want
This is by far my biggest bit of advice. If you take nothing else from this post, I urge you to read this section.
Too many stumble into jobs by accident rather than design. Often it's somewhere you've seen practice or just the first place that gives you an interview.
I know very few vets who know what their end goal is. What's your vision? Do you want to own a string of practices? Do you want to specialise? Do you want to move into research one day? The best bit of advice I will give you; know where you want to finish and reverse engineer how to get to there.
Step 1: Know what your end goal is and reverse engineer how to get there.
What is reverse engineering? It’s working your way back from a defined end-point. Pave your path in life. You will not accidentally stumble across you ideal circumstance; you have to design it.
Let's use an example to illustrate this. If you want to be the next bovine reproduction Guru, then don't do a small animal internship. That's an extreme case, but I would challenge to seriously consider if even a mixed practice role is right for you. In this instance, every minute you're in a consulting room is a minute away from your goal.
You might trip along the way; it might turn out farm animal work isn't for you after all, and that’s ok.
At least you got to that decision far quicker. That experience will define your strengths and what you enjoy. The goal posts might have moved, but the process is still the same; reverse engineer my friends.
Don't know what you want? The harsh reality is I don't know what you want either. You must devote time to sorting this out. Not what your pals are doing, not what you lecturers want you to do, not what your parents expect you to do. What do you want? Still not sure? The answers aren't onNetflix; you have to get out and find the answer.
Still need help? Click here for a a step-step approach for setting your goals.
Now You Know, Get It.
Once you have absolute clarity on where life's meant to lead, get it.
I help people with CV advice, and it pains me to see a 'one size fits all’ approach. If for example, I was searching for a vet for my ruminant pharma company, you telling me every single small animal surgical procedure you performed is a complete waste of time. Personalise your approach to every single job opportunity. This can be time-consuming if applying for lots of positions, but my answer to you is "tough". You need to pick apart the job description in minute detail and show how you're the perfect candidate for this position. Don't expect employers to read between the lines; they've got a mountain of applications to look through and no time. You have to rub their nose in the
important stuff and capture their attention.
A CV should be no more than two pages (the best I've seen were one-pagers). Furthermore, get your absolute best work in the first half of the first page. If you've not caught the employer's interest by then, the final paragraph on page four won't sway him/her.
Step 2: Invest time and effort into personalising your CV. Do you research on the company and interviewers.
Next, if you are truly passionate about getting a particular role, do what's necessary to get it. Ring around for advice, go on an interview course, introduce yourself to someone at the company, make the HR company a self-promo video, submit a catalogue of case studies... Whatever it takes to stand out.
Step 3: To get what you want, you have to go the extra mile.
Do you know why a lot of people don't do either of these steps? It's a fear of failing; it's a fear of rejection and what other people think. This is why Step 1 is SO IMPORTANT. Once you have your sights set, you stop sweating the little stuff. If you gave it your all and it didn't work out, good for you. Dust yourself off, retain focus, and go again. The whole experience will have only developed you as an individual and built you up. Who knows the opportunity that that experience could potentially bring tomorrow.
It’s More Than Just the 9-5
I don't care how career focussed you are, there's a lot more to life than just the 9-5.
Let me use an example; I have a friend who loves to surf. His first job was a 5-hour drive to a coastline with decent waves. Can you guess what happened? The guy was miserable.
Step 4: Weigh up these five factors before accepting any job: family, community, health, hobbies and your values.
Start to visualise real-life scenarios. Will I cope living away from my family? Will I have time to pursue my passion? Is it a welcoming community? Am I happier in an urban or rural location? Don't move somewhere just because you were flattered by a job offer. You need to have that work-life balance under control. If not, your mental and physical health could suffer. Here is a great quote;
"Make time for your health today, or you'll be forced to make time for sickness tomorrow"
Another bit of advice, speak to people you know have worked in that area or at a particular practice. Start to paint a picture of how life will be if you accept that job. The more information you gather, the better prepared you will be.
Mentoring and Personal Development
You become the average of the five people you spend the most time with; now there's a thought for you.
In my opinion, mentorship is undervalued in the veterinary profession. Yes, it's ambitious to work for a company with an excellent reputation, but who will you be working alongside? What exactly will you be doing and who are you learning from?
Step 5: Chose to work with people you aspire to be and ensure they invest in your
If you link this back to step 1, you need to inform your future employers of where you want to go and what is required to get there. It's important that they buy into this from the get-go. Be clear on what you want and ask for it. If their vision doesn't work in harmony with yours, amicably move on.
Having the right mentors will cut your learning curve in half, learning from the mistakes they already made. By having those people around you with a devoted interest in you, it will accelerate your development. Often, you only deal with HR before taking on a job. Ask to meet with those you will be working with on a regular basis. If the company has nothing to hide, this shouldn't be a problem.
Step 6: Trust Your Gut and Be Patient
Go with Your Gut
Gut instinct is real, learn to trust it. If it doesn't feel right, don't do it. Other opportunities will come up. I talk about reverse engineering to get where you want to be the fastest. But, patience is equally as important. We're in it for the long haul, focus on the prize, work your butt off, be patient and let it come to you.
If as a veterinary student you are wondering about how to find your dream job, don’t hesitate to contact our friendly and experienced Vet Team here at Prospect Health. You can call the team on 01423 813 453 or email them email@example.com
Alternatively you can have a look at the roles we’re currently recruiting for here