How to set about changing your job - Veterinary Practice
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How to set about changing your job

RICHARD SANDERSON observes that changing jobs seems to an in inevitable part of developing as a vet and discusses ways of going about it.

Is it time to move jobs? This may look like a topic which sits strangely in a series aimed at new graduates in their first few months of life in practice, but the turnover of new graduates in general practice is rather high.

The average time spent in your first job is reported at around 12 months which in employment terms is very short. When I compare this to my non-vet friends, this is much lower with those in other professions settling and remaining with their employers for much longer periods on the whole.

I myself am coming in as exactly “average”–I will move to my second position one year to the day after starting work, a relatively late move compared to some of my fellow 2009 graduates.

Many of my classmates are now in their second position and a couple are onto a third position I believe. I should add that several of my close friends are still in their first positions, however, although one or two are looking for new positions!

Finding a job is a daunting prospect and one on which some vet schools seem to offer very little advice. We had no formal careers advice telling us about our prospects, instead the assumption was made we would want to go into practice.

Career options

Some are providing careers days now and I, for example, spoke at the recent day at Nottingham aimed at providing students with information on both the range of career options available and the different methods of searching for the correct job. I wish we would have had something like this as it may just have helped people find the right job for them.

Historically, vets moved to a practice upon qualifying and then remained there forever or for a long period of time learning the “trade”. Nowadays it is much more expected that new graduates will not, realistically, stay more than two years in their first position. This is a detrimental assumption, of course.

When employers assume that an assistant will move on, consciously and/or subconsciously, they will invest less time in developing that assistant and trying to provide the key factors which will allow each individual to develop in his or her own way.

As a result of that perception of under-investment, new graduates begin to look for a move where they can develop in the way they need, find partnership opportunities or find a more suitable workload. And the profession ends up in a circle of new graduate turnover: under investment causing vets to move on; vets moving on causing under-investment.

This is, of course, unfavourable as many vets will move on when actually they could have developed in the position they were in given the right communication between employers and employees. This keeps clients happy too.

Clients often like to see partners because there is continuity and they won’t move on whereas assistants often do. In my case, I have had farm clients say that they had just got used to me and now I was leaving, and it is clearly a sense of frustration which could be reduced.

Moving position now seems an inevitable part of developing as a vet and gaining experience. As such, new graduates are likely to need to find at least two positions in their first couple of years graduated.But with very little advice on how to do this, many people don’t know where to start looking, how to prepare their CV, how to approach the interview and the important questions to want answering.

In this day and age I am not sure any new graduates can know exactly what they want from a position until having actually worked as it is very different to what you expect as a student but advice and support could and should be given more readily.

Limited places

There are limited places vets can look for jobs. I, like most new graduates, used the two most traditional methods – a journal and word-of-mouth – and was successfully offered all four positions I applied for.

When looking for my second job I used a more modern technique: that of a recruitment agency. As a new graduate I had a lot of time to look for a job and did not fully understand what I required and wanted. After my initial period of work I had a much clearer idea of what I wanted from a position and what I had to offer and was able to give this information to the recruitment agency.

Several employers have indicated to me that when they advertise a position they get a lot of unsuitable candidates and as a new graduate I know I sought information on a lot of positions which turned out not to be suitable for what I wanted.

When looking for my second job I wanted a hands-off approach and that’s why the recruitment agency worked so well for me. I developed the relationship with the agency and they knew exactly what I was looking for in my next position. They were also very well versed in all the jobs they had available to them and exactly what those employers were looking for.

I likened it to a dating agency: effectively trying to match the right person with the right position. For me,it worked really well and this kind of approach is commonplace in many other industries and professions.

I didn’t have the time or desire to look for positions and check they were suitable. Using a recruitment agency allowed me to focus on doing my job and then look only at positions which had already been assessed and deemed to match my requirements. And those with job opportunities with the agency were only receiving relevant applications that met their job specification.

This saved me as the potential employee a lot of time on unsuitable positions and employers the time of looking at lots of unsuitable CVs.

If I was ever to need to look for a job again, permanent or locum, I would turn back to the recruitment agents I used and my friends who have also used this method all say the same as it sorts through the positions to find you the right opportunities.

Employers also echo this sentiment, consistently returning to the agency once they have used it once due to the filtering of applicants to those who are suitable.

When looking for a job, be it your first position or time for a change, there are lots to consider. Firstly, preparing a good CV is invaluable and serious consideration should be given to this. Aim to make it accurate to the type of person you are and remember to sell yourself.

Explore all avenues of job adverts and I would actively encourage people to use recruitment agencies in addition to the more traditional methods.

Also seek advice where help isn’t provided to make sure you find the right job for you and reduce the number of vets who feel the need to move on within the first two years of practice and thus encourage investment in young members of staff.

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