3 ways to highlight commercial awareness as a veterinary surgeon

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Image ©iStock.com/Pali Rao

Being a veterinary surgeon means you’ve got to have a wide range of skills, and commercial awareness is one you should consider adding to your bow.

The commercial side of veterinary practice needs to be a priority alongside animal welfare and care, client relationships and employees, and it is important vets are clued up about the implications work has on the cash flow and growth of the business they are in. How can you reflect this commercial awareness effectively in your CV and during an interview?

In this article, we take a look at three ways you can highlight your commercial skills to potential employers:

1. Understand what commercial awareness means for the veterinary profession

To start with, have a solid understanding of what commercial awareness is in the veterinary industry. The University of Kent has a great breakdown of what commercial awareness is and why employers look for it in candidates.

To sum it up, however, commercial awareness is an understanding of how an organisation works, including knowing about its stakeholders (such as customers, employees and shareholders) and the industry the organisation works in.

So, if we transfer that definition to the veterinary profession, we can understand that commercial awareness covers understanding:

  • what’s happening in the veterinary profession, including trends, concerns and opportunities
  • clients
  • how the organisation generates revenue (this still applies to charities, where you need to understand the origins of financial support)
  • employees and the role they play as veterinary professionals in the organisation

In turn, this transfers in to the following commercial skills employers look for in your CV and during an interview:

  • Leadership skills. Ability to lead a team of veterinary professionals, ensuring a productive workforce while also ensuring colleagues' knowledge of the changing veterinary profession is up to date.
  • Financially savvy. Understanding of how a veterinary practice generates income, for example, and the ability to spot additional opportunities.
  • Passion for veterinary medicine. It is key to display dedication to the veterinary profession, including continual professional development and changes in the industry.

With all this in mind, it is important to still remain balanced in your CV and during an interview – you’ll want to demonstrate other core skills required of veterinary professionals, such as medical knowledge, interpersonal skills, initiative and more.

To help you keep that balance, think about how you would answer the question: why do you want to be a vet? This could help you to establish priorities beyond the commercial side of things.

2. Use the right language

Commercial awareness is tied to “business” knowledge. Even for charities in animal welfare and the veterinary profession, business knowledge can often be viewed as useful, as they face growing competition for financial support from a range of stakeholders. Business knowledge helps them gain an edge.

When you’re demonstrating commercial awareness and commercial skills, make sure you’re confident talking about the industry as a whole – showing you’re ahead of trends and able to recognise opportunities for the practice or charity.

You should also be ready to show knowledge of different business functions. What do you understand about the branding of a veterinary practice? What about employee recruitment and retention or the cash flow of a business?

Make sure you look back at the job description to check whether practice management or similar responsibilities are tied into the role. This will help you to establish the extent commercial skills you're expected to show.

Tip: Make sure you read VBJ, which looks at the business side of running a veterinary practice. Articles from this are available at vetsonline.com

3. Be ready with the facts and figures

A great way to demonstrate commercial awareness is to use real examples that include solid facts and figures. If you have previous experience working as a veterinary surgeon, consider how you may have contributed towards the general running of a practice, whether it's operationally improving appointment schedules or through helping to recruit new team members. If your contribution made a financial difference, include figures. Similarly, try to use percentages to demonstrate the positive impact your contributions made.

If you are a new graduate, it’s still possible to provide real examples to prove your commercial skills. Think about what you learned from others during work experience and demonstrate how you’ve take this on board.

With the right commercial skills highlighted in your CV, you’ll be demonstrating to the employer you understand the veterinary organisation requires its surgeons to show a broad spectrum of skills – with animals, clients, colleagues and the business.

To start your search for the perfect veterinary surgeon job, browse Vet Times Jobs today.  

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