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What soft skills do employers look for in a veterinary nurse?

Written by: Vet Times Jobs
Published on: 2 Jul 2019

Veterinary nurse cleaning dog's wound

Image ©

You’ve found your dream veterinary nurse job and you’re eager to put in your application. Our first tip is that you tailor your application to each job – make it personal to that workplace, whether it’s a charity, veterinary practice or somewhere else.

In tailoring your application you will also want to highlight the soft skills that this particular employer is looking for. But first of all, how do you know what soft skills they are looking for in their next veterinary nurse?

The clue is the job description

Carefully read through the job description before hitting "apply" – beyond the location, salary and expected responsibilities. Look for the adjectives that the employer uses to describe their ideal veterinary nurse.

For example, they may say: “Our veterinary practice is looking for a dedicated, professional veterinary nurse to join our busy and passionate team. We’re looking for a veterinary nurse with fantastic patient care, along with confidence and tact when working with clients.

“We’re a positive team that works closely together to ensure we achieve the best outcomes for our patients. There won’t be a need for any receptionist duties either because we have a fully-capable reception team.”

In this job description you’ll want to pick out the following when deciding how to "pitch in" your soft skills:

  • Dedicated
  • Professional
  • Busy
  • Passionate
  • Positive
  • Closely
  • No receptionist duties

These seven features of the job description should steer how you describe yourself in your application. Highlight experience that shows you have been dedicated to the veterinary profession, shown a professional attitude, dealt with busy situations, are passionate about animal care, have positive outlook and work well with your colleagues.

A particularly interesting point with regards to this job description is that there are no receptionist duties. Because of this factor you will want to exclude anything in your CV that is specific to receptionist duties – save that space for valuable information the employer will find relevant to their job.

Once you’ve analysed the job description, there are a few other core soft skills that the employer will be looking for in a veterinary nurse. These soft skills can form the backdrop to your application, allowing you to tailor your application to highlight these skills beyond your technical proficiency:


The nature of the veterinary industry means there will be influxes of patients that require immediate and, perhaps, intensive care. During these times veterinary nurses will need to work quickly but with the same care they employ every working day. Demonstrate clearly to employers how you deal with these high-pressure situations.

Strong communication skills

You will need to communicate compassionately with clients as a vet nurse, so be aware you will need to show inter-personal skills. Do you have a knack for explaining things in a concise yet accurate way that helps the client understand? Let the employer know. Explain how your sympathetic and tactful approach has made a difference to client care in the past.

Great teamwork skills

Working in any environment will normally require teamwork skills; you’ll often have to work with customers and colleagues. However, in a veterinary practice you will see teamwork skills even more in demand than normal. You will have to work well with vet surgeons – taking their instructions well and working directly to their brief – along with other nurses, receptionists and technicians. Often you will need to be flexible with your colleagues to manage a rota – sharing weekend or night shifts – so effective communication will be vital.

A can-do attitude

A can-do attitude is particularly important for veterinary nurses. You will often be required to get on with messy and sometimes unpleasant tasks – if you’re outgoing and "get things done" then explain so in your application.


Being a vet nurse will require you to be passionate about the job. The demanding and busy environment will often be difficult, but a passionate outlook will help hugely. Be positive about your passion to provide the best healthcare for animals. An interest in science is also important, as veterinary medicine will be a core part of your job.

Hopefully these tips and advice will help you understand what soft skills a veterinary nurse needs, particularly the ones that the employer will be looking for. When you’re ready to start looking for veterinary nurse jobs, start by searching Vet Times Jobs.