The Normalcy Bias and Your Animal Health Career or Veterinary Career

by Stacy Pursell, CPC, CERS

The VET Recruiter®

The year 2020 has been quite a year. Actually, that’s putting it mildly. So perhaps it makes sense on a couple of different levels to bring up the normalcy bias as it pertains to your Animal Health or Veterinary career.

First, let’s take a look at the definition of the normalcy bias. The following is from Wikipedia:

Normalcy bias, or normality bias, is a cognitive bias which leads people to disbelieve or minimize threat warnings. Consequently, individuals underestimate the likelihood of a disaster, when it might affect them, and its potential adverse effects. The normalcy bias causes many people to not adequately prepare for natural disasters, pandemics, and calamities caused by human error. About 70% of people reportedly display normalcy bias during a disaster.

Certainly, this could apply to the world in which we live. After all, the description above mentions “pandemics” by name. However, there is also another, less apocalyptic application. That’s because the normalcy bias has different degrees. In other words, a person could be suffering from it (for lack of a better term) even if there isn’t a specific threat warning or catastrophe present or even looming.

And one of those degrees involves your Animal Health or Veterinary career.

The priority of your Animal Health or Veterinary Career

One of the degrees of the normalcy bias to which people often prescribe is this one: they believe the circumstances surrounding their life are going to continue as they are right now for the foreseeable future, if not for the rest of their life. They could prescribe to this degree of the normalcy bias with any aspect of their life. It could be with a relationship. It could be with where they live. Or it could deal with their professional life, including their employment situation.

And that is the situation I would like to address. That is because I have seen this degree of the normalcy bias play out repeatedly during my 23+ years as an Animal Health Executive Recruiter and Veterinary Recruiter. Specifically, I’ve seen people not want to move forward in the interest of growing their Animal Health or Veterinary career because they believed—consciously or subconsciously—that the current conditions of their professional life were going to continue exactly as they were for the foreseeable future.

As a result, they dismissed other employment opportunities, which could have afforded them the chance to improve their current situation. Of course, the normalcy bias becomes even more prevalent if the person affected by it is also “comfortable” with their current situation. As I’ve discussed before in numerous articles and blog posts, being comfortable is anathema to growth. In other words, when you’re comfortable, your #1 priority is to remain comfortable.It’s NOT to grow.

So a person who is comfortable with their present professional circumstances and their current employment situation is more likely to suffer from the normalcy bias, which means they are less likely to be prepared for a change in those circumstances and that situation. The problem, of course, occurs when their situation is changed without their consent. After all, life is largely unpredictable. If there’s anything that the COVID-19 virus and pandemic has taught us, it has certainly taught us that.

Think about it for a minute. More specifically, think about your own life, both personal and professional. How many things have happened that you did not expect and that disrupted the status quo of your existence? How many things have occurred for which you had no prior knowledge and for which you were not prepared?

The problem with the normalcy bias, no matter the degree to which you prescribe, is that it is not based on a past pattern of events. The rule is not that the current events of a person’s life will continue exactly as they are for the foreseeable future. That is not the rule . . . it is the exception to the rule. In fact, it’s so much the exception to the rule that it almost never happens.

Be proactive, be prepared, and be aware

So if the normalcy bias is not based on a past pattern of events, what is it based upon? Unfortunately, it’s based upon the psyche of the human mind. That’s because it is more pleasing to the subconscious to believe that current conditions will continue unabated into the future, especially if the person is comfortable with those conditions. The reality, though, is that belief is based upon nothing more than a wish, and putting too much faith in that vision of the future can have a negative impact on a person’s Animal Health or Veterinary career.

This is why I am a big proponent of being proactive, being prepared, and being aware.

And I’m not talking just about the pandemic and other events in our country and around the world. I’m talking about the lesser degree of the normalcy bias, the one that directly affects your professional life and your current employment situation. One of the factors of success involves your options. How many options you have and the quality of those options helps to determine the level of success that you enjoy.

Ideally, you want to have as many options as possible and you want as many of those options to be of the highest quality possible. And remember: just because you have an option does not mean that you have to take the option. It is only there for your consideration, and you are free to choose what to do with it. After all, it’s impossible to take every single option that you have at your disposal. Unfortunately, it’s more difficult to identify and consider your options if you prescribe to the normalcy bias, even if you prescribe to the smallest degree or the lowest level of the bias.

So shun the normalcy bias, and be proactive, be prepared, and be aware so that you can take advantage of the best opportunities and options to grow your Animal Health or Veterinary career.

If you’re looking to make a change or explore your employment options, then we want to talk with you. I encourage you to contact us or you can also create a profile and/or submit your resume for consideration.

If you’re looking to hire top talent, you can click here to find out more about our services for employers. Click here to learn more about our recruiting process.

We help support careers in one of two ways: 1. By helping Animal Health and Veterinary professionals to find the right opportunity when the time is right, and 2. By helping to recruit top talent for the critical needs of Animal Health and Veterinary organizations. If this is something that you would like to explore further, please send an email to stacy@thevetrecruiter.com.

Copyright © 2020 The VET Recruiter 

The VET Recruiter is The Animal Health Executive Search Firm and The Veterinary Recruiting Firm

Stacy Pursell is an Animal Health Executive Recruiter and Veterinary Recruiter and Workplace/Workforce expert for the Animal Health Industry and Veterinary Profession.