Whether you’re coming to the end of your diploma or degree, or have been a fully-qualified veterinary nurse for several years, it can be difficult to know where to start with a new job search.
This Vet Times Jobs careers advice article is aimed specifically at helping veterinary nurses, with 19 job search tips that cover every stage of the job search journey.
Each tip is designed to give you an edge when it comes to looking for your perfect veterinary nurse job, helping you to stand out of the "job seeker crowd".
Starting your veterinary nurse job search
- Make a list of negotiable and non-negotiable factors
Before you even start your job hunt make sure you understand what you value most highly. Make a list of factors you would and would not consider negotiating or sacrificing for a job.
For example, location may be a negotiable factor if you're willing to move for the right job, but a salary of more than £15,000 per annum may be non-negotiable.
Making a list will give you confidence when looking for a new job, helping to consolidate what you consider most important to your career.
- Gather work experience
If you’ve not worked in a veterinary nurse role previously, it’s important you still have some established work experience behind you.
Michelle Creswell, RVN at White Cross Vets in St. Helens, began her career with a two-week work placement.
She explained: “I’ve always known I wanted to become a veterinary nurse, so I started with two weeks work experience and moved on to working Saturday mornings and during school holidays. After that I became employed full time.
“Getting experience is crucial for veterinary nurses – not only because it looks good on your CV, but because it also gives you the chance to know if you like the job.”
White Cross Vets has some great resources for those planning their career, which you may also find useful. For example: Want to become a vet nurse?
- Keep track of your job hunt
Track what applications you sent to who and when you sent them. Make notes from the research you do on each workplace and jot down relevant contact details. That way you’ll know when is a good time to follow-up on an application. Plus, if an employer gets in touch with you, you’ll know which application they’re referring to.
- Get in touch with others in the industry
Stay in touch with lecturers and peers from your degree, work-based training or diploma. Networking with people in the industry could be the key to finding your next job – you never know what opportunities may come up.
- Know your ambitions
Take some time to plan what you want from your career and align this with your current job search. It may be that, although some jobs look great, they may not be right for you at this point in your career – having a set plan will give you an idea of where to direct your job search efforts.
- Understand what the employer is looking for
Always read each job description in detail and research the employer. Find out what specific skills they're looking for and what "soft skills" (personality traits and qualities that will fit well with their current team) they want in their next employee.
- Look in the right places
Understand what resources there are available to you when it comes to finding a new job and search for lots of different types of opportunity – for example, you may find your perfect role in charity whereas you previously thought you would only work in practice.
Start your search with Vet Times Jobs for nurses where we have a great range of opportunities from head nurse jobs through to veterinary nurse trainers.
Writing your CV
- Add a personal statement to your CV
It’s difficult to add personality to a sheet of A4 paper, but it is possible to tell the potential employer a little about your soft skills by adding in a brief personal statement at the top of your CV – two or three sentences that explain a little about you and your motivations.
Make sure you back up your statements in the rest of your CV with relevant examples.
Have a read of our article: What soft skills do employers look for in a veterinary nurse?
- Look beyond animal care skills
While having a passion for animal care and welfare is important, it’s equally important to show a range of other skills. For example, you may need great people skills when working with clients and colleagues.
- Don’t forget a cover letter
A cover letter is normally about one side of A4 in length, separated into approximately three or four paragraphs. The aim of a cover letter is to expand further on your CV. It is specifically written for the employer and in reference to the role you’re applying for.
Use your cover letter to show a little more personality and explain exactly why you think you’re perfect for the job.
- Have someone else read your CV
Enlist the help of family and friends and have them proofread your CV and cover letter.
- Adapt your CV for each job
Although it’s important to have a basic CV ready to go at any time, it’s equally important that you tailor your application for each job.
Take the skeleton of your CV and add in extra points you think are particularly important for each individual application. Similarly, change the emphasis of certain points to make your more relevant skills stand out.
- Use evidence and examples
It’s easy to say “I have a real passion for animal welfare”, but it may not convince the employer. Instead, expand on such points and give examples of when you have shown such passion.
For instance, you may say: “Completing volunteer placements demonstrates my passion for animal welfare…” or you may explain how your ability to manage a particularly busy night shift demonstrates initiative, determination and a good work ethic.
Preparing for interviews
- Get to know the workplace
Again, research into your potential employer will be key. Have a look at their website and search for the organisation online to see if there are any news items or reviews of them. Knowing the workplace will also help you understand if you’ll be a good "cultural fit".
- Don’t be afraid of showing your personality
The interviewer will be looking for you to bring your CV to life. For a lot of job seekers this can feel a little daunting, and some may worry about striking a good balance with professionalism.
If you are feeling a little unsure, before your interview prepare three to five scenarios where you feel certain personality traits have helped in your professional life – perhaps your passion for animal welfare, your ability to communicate well with lots of different people or your hard-working attitude.
Michelle from White Cross Vets said: “For many employers, the CV process is used to ensure your skills match their needs. So, once you’re past that stage, it’s essential you get the interview right. Show enthusiasm, drive, determination and passion to land your dream job. Don’t be afraid to talk about your hobbies when they’re relevant too.”
When it comes to face-to-face interviews it’s about understanding the whole picture. Employers will look for people who love animals but also thrive in a team environment and understand the client aspect of working in a surgery.
After an interview
- Follow-up with the potential employer
Just because the interview is out of the way doesn’t mean you need to wait to hear from the employer. If you feel it’s right, drop the interviewer a thank you note, letting them know you appreciated their time and look forward to hearing from them soon.
- Don’t be afraid to say "no"
Jobs can be like buses, you might wait a while to even get an interview and then three offers come along at once. If that’s the case, go back to your list of negotiable and non-negotiable factors and really think through the different opportunities and whether they line up with want you want from your career.
On your first day
- Ask, ask, ask
To help find your feet in your new role and show you’re eager to learn make sure you ask plenty of questions. Find out who is the best person to talk to and make notes as you go along – there might be a lot of information to digest to start with.
- Keep on learning
The veterinary profession is a learning profession and will always value those who take their continual professional development seriously. Keep learning once you’re in your new job and you’ll find yourself discovering new skills that can be added to your CV when you’re ready for your next career move.
With all these tips in mind, if you think you’re now ready to start your veterinary nurse job hunt make sure you start with Vet Times Jobs! Search vet nurse jobs now.