How to write the perfect veterinary surgeon CV

Curriculum Vitae

Image ©iStock.com/Pali Rao

There’s a wealth of information available on how to write a generic CV, but what should you bear in mind when it comes to writing your CV for a veterinary surgeon job?

Have a read through our advice below, with practical tips especially for veterinary surgeons:

Create a ‘one size fits all’ CV and then tailor it for each job

Start by following our CV template to create a generic CV that includes:

  • your contact details
  • a brief professional profile
  • career summary
  • professional development and key skills
  • interests and hobbies
  • references

This CV can always be uploaded to your Vet Times Jobs account. However, it’s important that you tailor your CV each time you apply for a new role.

Read the job description and look for skills they’ve specifically highlighted. From there, make those skills stand out in your CV.

If the employer is looking for a veterinary surgeon with excellent clinical standards, say you have excellent clinical standards in your professional profile and go on to demonstrate them through the career summary and professional development sections of your CV.

Experience is important, but it's not everything

Experience will be one of the first things an employer or potential locum client will look for in your CV. If you’re a recent veterinary graduate, they’ll look for work experience and self-directed study.

Don’t be vague about your employment history. Give context for each previous role and explain key responsibilities and achievements. For example, say if you had out-of-hours duties, if you managed referral work and if a practice you worked in was small animal, equine or other.

In each previous position, prospective employers and locum clients will want to understand in detail what your role was and what kind of environment you worked in – say if you worked in mixed practice, sole charge, practice based, clinic management, don’t leave them guessing.

But past experience isn’t the "be all and end all’. Employers will want to understand more about you and how you’ll fit into their team. Balance your CV well, using concise sentences and you’ll find you have space to mention your soft skills too.

Always use real examples in your CV and never lie. By keeping those two points in mind you’ll automatically make your CV more personal – because it will actually be about you and your own experience!

Demonstrate commercial skills

Experience, your love of animals and great clinical standards are, of course, priorities when writing your veterinary CV. However, don’t forget to also highlight your commercial awareness.

Prospective employers will be looking for skills that complement all areas of their workplace. For many, that will include having a level of business acumen.

Highlight skills that show you are commercially savvy. For example, pick out experience that shows your strong inter-personal skills with clients, demonstrate that you’re aware of the commercial pressures many practices face and be confident in highlighting business skills such as being a team player.

CV advice for recent veterinary graduates

Recent graduates are in a slightly different boat to veterinary surgeons that have been in the industry for several years, and while you may think sending your CV out to lots of different employers will increase your chances of securing an interview, you could benefit more from choosing a selection of jobs that really appeal to you.

That way you’ll be able to save time by avoiding applying to jobs that you don’t quite fit the criteria for, or for jobs you’re not 100% sure you would enjoy.

Also have a read of our article: Job Hunting as a Veterinary Graduate: The Dos and Don’ts

Stay in tune with the veterinary industry

Being aware of what’s happening in the industry will give you an idea of where vacancies may be more likely to appear and also what recruiters are struggling to find in candidates. When it comes to sending in applications, you can then tailor your CV to highlight the skills you know prospective employers are searching for.

As always, have a read of Veterinary Times and stay up to date on industry news. This can also help you when it comes to interview, where you may be expected to show a broad understanding of current challenges, opportunities and trends in the veterinary profession.

Find out about three other interview questions you need to prepare for.

Make sure your CV is professional, but personal too

Make sure your CV is professional but reflects the values important to you and your soft skills too.

Your professional profile, interests and hobbies section is the perfect opportunity to explain a little more about you and why you think you’re ideal for the job. Expand on your skills and try to give those reading your CV an idea of why you love the veterinary profession and what you’re like as an individual. They’ll want you to be a great cultural fit in their workplace.

Don’t forget your cover letter too, as this is the opportunity to expand more upon why you’re applying and how you believe your skills will be well placed.

Remember the basics

When it comes to writing your CV, there a few basics you should keep in mind regardless of what profession you’re in:

  • Spelling mistakes and poor grammar make your CV look rushed. No employer would want to think you’ve not invested time and thought into your application. Print off your CV and proofread it on paper.  
  • Use a professional sounding email address. If you don’t have one, create a new email account online.
  • Don’t include your date of birth.
  • Ask a few people to read through your CV. Someone within the veterinary profession, someone outside of the profession and someone else who can take a look at grammar and spelling. Take their comments on board.
  • Keep your CV to two-sides of A4.
  • Use "to the point" language and keep your sentences short. If an employer is sifting through lots of CVs they won’t have time to read an essay.

Download our veterinary surgeon CV template

Click here to download the template.

This is a very basic template you can adapt to suit the job you’re applying for. Edit titles, add in sections, move sections up to give them more priority – make the template your own. It is, however, a great place to start with additional tips on how to write a veterinary surgeon CV.

Get job hunting…

Once you’re confident with your CV, start applying to jobs. You can search hundreds of live vacancies on Vet Times Jobs today.

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