Job hunting as a veterinary graduate: the dos and don’ts

Graduates

Image ©iStock.com/Steve Debenport

Looking for veterinary graduate jobs can be a little daunting – you may have recently graduated or be completing your final year, but either way you’ll be entering new territory looking for your first veterinary role.

In this career advice article we take a look at some of the "dos and don’ts" for your veterinary graduate job hunt, with advice from writing your CV through to interviews and tracking your job search. If you found the advice useful, why not share it with your fellow graduates?

Do: look far and wide for graduate positions

Don’t limit yourself when it comes to looking at graduate jobs. Be open to different opportunities – each practice will be different and there may be opportunities to work on a project basis to develop specialisms.

Don’t: use one CV for every job

As the previous point show, every job and every opportunity is different, so you should treat each one with a different approach. Tailor your CV and cover letter each and every time you submit a new application. Different employers will value some skills over others, and different jobs will require you to demonstrate specific experience, which others may not.

Thoroughly examine the job description to understand what the employer is looking for, and then adapt the "skeleton" of your CV to highlight the skills they mention.

Do: draw on experience gained while studying

One of the biggest drawbacks of many graduate CVs is they fail to really shout about themselves. Your CV is your chance to show off all the invaluable skills you developed while studying – if you did really well on a particular subject, let the employer know. Similarly, talk about any extra curricular work or research you did – and don’t be shy about it.

Remember, when you’re studying at university you’ll also gain some skills that are essential to working life. Demonstrate how you managed to get great results from team work, mention your attention to detail and don’t neglect to talk about any other experience that helped you develop business critical skills.

Don’t: neglect the resources at your university

Before you graduate make sure you fully research the career resources available at your university. Many universities will have specialist career advisors ready to help look over your CV, give you advice on where to look for jobs and how to conduct yourself in interviews.

Before you meet with a careers advisor make sure you do a little preparation – have your current CV printed and ready for them to look at and list a few questions you would like to ask.

Tip: Don’t forget that your university email address may not be valid after you graduate, whereas others may supply you with an alumni email address. When you’re applying for jobs in your final year it may be wise to use a different email (but still one that sounds professional) to avoid missing any communications from potential employers.

Do: show personality

Although it's tricky to show personality on two sides of A4 paper it is important that you give the employer a sense of your "soft skills" in your CV.

A short personal statement (perhaps two or three sentences long) at the beginning of your CV can help with this. List some of your key qualities:

  • Are a team worker and easy to get along with?
  • Have you demonstrated a great work ethic?
  • Are you enthusiastic and passionate?

When you then go on to list your experience and details of your education, make sure you give examples of how you’ve put the mentioned skills into action.

Similarly, at interview, although you may be feeling nervous, remember the employer will want to understand a little more about you. By being yourself, but remaining professional, you’ll have the opportunity to show the employer how you will fit into their business and their current team.

Don’t: forget your covering letter

As the previous point explains, showing personality is key to your application but it can be a little limited within your CV.

A covering letter will give you the chance to expand on your soft skills, explain why you decided to apply for this particular job and explain to the employer why you believe you’re a great candidate.

Do: demonstrate your passion for veterinary medicine

Try to show what you’re passionate about at every stage of the job-hunting process – whether that’s animal welfare and care in general or in a specialist field. Don’t be afraid to explain why you have a passion for veterinary medicine and explain how that passion has been developed and grown throughout your studies.

Don’t: lose track of your job hunt

A simple tip, but one that many graduates might forget, is to create a spreadsheet tracking the applications you’ve made, the communication you’ve had with employers and any notable points about the organisation.

Do: show perseverance

You may not get the first job you apply for, and for some it may take a little while for the interviews to start rolling in.

Don’t be disheartened if you don’t get what you thought was your dream job – there are plenty of other opportunities out there. It may be that after a few more years of experience you’ll be able to go back to the employer and find out if they have any new opportunities.

Don’t: forget to ask for feedback

If you do find out you’ve been unsuccessful in applying for a job, don’t be afraid to ask for a little feedback from the employer. Simply send them a note thanking them for getting back to you, and asking if would be possibly to have a little feedback on your application and where you may have gone wrong.

Such feedback can be invaluable when it comes to putting in your next application or attending another interview – after all, we all know how important it is to learn from our mistakes.

Do: Understand your own ambitions

When you’re searching for jobs make sure you also have an idea of a more long-term career plan. Although that may seem daunting for now, right at the start of your career, it will help to understand what you value most in a job and help guide your current job search.

Have a read of our careers advice article "How to plan your career as a veterinary surgeon".

If you’re ready to start your job hunt now, make sure you look for graduate jobs and browse our current Vet Times Jobs vacancies.

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