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How to demonstrate the right skills for a commercial job in the veterinary industry

Written by: Vet Times Jobs
Published on: 3 Jul 2015


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The veterinary industry is very broad, with opportunities available beyond the confines of veterinary practice. But what about roles available for individuals who aren’t trained in veterinary medicine? Beyond vet surgeons, nurses and technicians?

The veterinary industry stretches to encompass roles in sales, marketing, standards and regulations, HR and more. In recent years the profession has become far more commercially aware, making roles in areas such as sales, marketing and PR more important to the success of companies in the veterinary industry.

In this article we discuss which skills are valued in the veterinary industry, particularly in commercial roles.

Understand what’s valued highly in the veterinary industry

There are some very obvious values that are regarded highly in the veterinary industry, such as providing the very best animal care.

These values, if you’re able to demonstrate them, could help you stand out from the crowd when it comes to applying for jobs.

For example, the veterinary industry is a "learning industry" – vet surgeons and nurses are required to undertake ongoing CPD to keep them up to date with changes in best practice, technology and medicine. As a result, the industry as a whole looks favourably on those who are self-learners and eager to continue developing current and new skills.

If you’re passionate about animal welfare, let your potential employer know that. The veterinary industry revolves around animals, so it’s important you show a passion for their well-being.

Beyond that, it's highly likely a commercial veterinary industry job will require you to interact with vets, nurses and practice managers on a regular basis, so you’ll want to show a level of compassion for their professions too.

Finally, another skill increasingly in demand and valued by the profession is commercial awareness. Having a business-friendly outlook and the ability to demonstrate commercial awareness in various other roles may be thought a strength by many employers.

Tip: Do your research into the industry. Show an awareness of topical issues to demonstrate your eagerness to learn.

Scrutinise the job description

The clue to how much industry knowledge you will be required to show will be in the job description. Look at it in detail and pick out key words describing the sort of commercial awareness/industry knowledge they’re looking for.

For example, a job description may say: “We’re looking for an enthusiastic, passionate marketing manager to join us in our head offices.

“Managing the marketing for our veterinary practices in the south-east, the successful candidate will have upwards of three years experience in a marketing role with an understanding of the veterinary industry and the challenges/opportunities practices face.”

In this description the key words and phrases we can pick out are:

  • passionate
  • three years experience in marketing
  • an understanding of the veterinary industry
  • veterinary practices

For this job, it’s clear the employer is looking for someone who is clued up on the commercial challenges veterinary practices in particular face.

However, while the job description states three years of marketing experience is required, it does not specify that this must have been in the veterinary industry – a potential candidate for such a role should look at how they will be able to apply skills developed in another industry to the veterinary industry.

Ask the employer

There’s only so much you can get from a job description. Look beyond the job description for commercial veterinary jobs and visit the employer’s website. Look at how they market themselves and see if you can find any information on their current team members.

But don’t forget you can talk to the employer too – be open and honest with them, while you’re at an interview or beforehand, and ask what kind of commercial awareness they’re looking for. Also ask what the team you’d be working with is like and you’ll soon be able to build a picture of how it would be to work for this particular employer – including what veterinary knowledge you would require.

Be honest with yourself

If an employer is looking for someone with a real passion for the veterinary industry but you're really not on the same wavelength, then maybe this job isn’t right for you.

As mentioned previously, the veterinary industry is filled with very high standards and values, so it’s important you’re able to sympathise with such values – including making animal welfare a priority.

But remember that every job is different. Not every job will demand direct contact with veterinary practices or professionals and, as a result, it will be more your technical/professional expertise that are seen as a priority. It is important to understand what the employer is looking for so you can equally understand if you would be right for (and happy in) the role.

If you think a commercial role in the veterinary industry would be right for you, why not take a look at our current commercial vacancies today?