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How to Hire a Veterinarian

There are many challenges involved in hiring a veterinarian, especially considering the conditions that exist in the current job market.

According to a recent statement by the American Association of Veterinary Medical Colleges, the number of U.S. veterinarians has been increasing at a rate of only 2.7% each year. In 2019, there were 2,000 to 3,000 more job openings than veterinarians available to fill those openings. According to the AVMA, between January of 2019 and May of 2021, there were 18 positions open in their Career Center for every veterinarian seeking a job, six positions for every technician and assistant, and 12 for other Veterinary positions. This would explain why the unemployment rate for veterinarians is so low. According to the job search site Zippia, since 2013, the unemployment rate in the Veterinary profession has decreased from 1.0% to 0.2%.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics or the BLS in April of 2022, veterinarian jobs are projected to grow by 17% between 2020 and 2030. We’re already two years into this, and keep in mind these are veterinarian jobs. Technician and assistant jobs are not included.

The BLS is projecting 4,400 job openings for veterinarians each year, on average, over the decade, with approximately 1,450 of those representing brand-new positions. The rest of those job openings will be to replace workers who transferred to different occupations or exited the workforce, some through retirement. Speaking of retirements, according to an article in Today’s Veterinary Business in February of 2021, approximately 2,000 people retire from the Veterinary profession every year. According to data from the American Association of Veterinary Medical Colleges, about 3,000 Veterinary students graduated in 2020.

With 44,000 open positions created overall during the decade, both new positions and existing ones, there are projected to be 30,000 new Veterinary graduates to fill those positions. That means there will be 14,000 open positions remaining, since the unemployment rate is virtually nonexistent right now and is projected to remain that way.

And these numbers could represent a best-case scenario. According to a report released by Mars Veterinary Health in March of this year, a shortage of nearly 15,000 veterinarians could exist by the year 2030. These numbers illustrate how difficult it is to hire a veterinarian in today’s job market. In fact, it might become even more difficult to hire a veterinarian in the future, based on the numbers projected by the BLS.

How to hire a veterinarian in a challenging market

Hiring a veterinarian requires a proactive approach by employers, especially when operating in a candidates’ market. It requires more time, energy, and effort, and that’s because employers must become experts at hiring veterinarians.

Obviously, with a low unemployment rate, organizations must offer higher starting salaries and bigger sign-on bonuses to job candidates. They must also offer a flexible work schedule and an enticing work-life balance. In addition, employers must also provide a stellar experience to candidates during the recruiting and hiring process. Below are tips for hiring veterinarians:


#1—Streamline the hiring process.

A job candidate you’re interviewing could also be interviewing with multiple organizations or even entertaining multiple offers. And of course, if they accept an offer from your organization, there’s a chance they could still accept a counteroffer from their current employer. This is because a counteroffer is almost a foregone conclusion in terms of hiring within the Veterinary profession.

The rule is simple: the longer your hiring process drags on, the more likely your Veterinary job candidate will accept another offer or accept a counteroffer.


#2—“Sell” the opportunity to the candidate.

A veterinarian job candidate is not going to automatically be interested in your position just because it exists. That’s because they have plenty of options in the job market. As a result, you must proactively “sell” the benefits of not just the job, but also the opportunity as a whole and the organization.

To accomplish this, you must know the position inside and out. This means familiarizing yourself with the day-to-day activities of the person who will fill this role. Not only will this allow you to assess the candidate more effectively, but it will instill confidence in the candidate that you actually know what you are doing.


#3—Get to really know the candidate.

This involves knowing as much as you can about the candidate, especially their true motivation for exploring other opportunities in the job market. Once you know their motivation, you can “sell” to that motivation. You can highlight what your organization can offer that will help to motivate them to want to work for you.


#4—Keep the candidate engaged and updated during the process.

The best way to do this is through consistent communication. This is especially true for members of the younger generations. They want to know what’s happening and where they stand in the process. If there is a lack of communication or no communication at all, they’re going to think they’re no longer a serious candidate for the position. And if they think that, then they’ll drop out of the process altogether.

One way to keep Veterinary candidates engaged is to make them feel wanted. This is important for top passive candidates who are already employed and highly valued by their current employer.


#5—Brand your organization in a positive way.

The interviewing and hiring process is a great time to brand your organization with a great experience. If they have a great experience before they’re hired, they’re more inclined to think that they’ll have a great experience once they’ve been hired as an employee. While you certainly want to “sell” your employment opportunity to the candidate, be sure not to overstate your case and make claims that you can not back up if the person accepts your offer and becomes an employee.


#6—Partner with an experienced Veterinary recruiter.

Since hiring a veterinarian requires so much time, energy, and effort, some organizations choose to partner with an experienced and reputable recruiting firm. The right recruiting firm has the connections and expertise necessary to ensure that you’re able to find the right candidates and hire the veterinarians that you need to succeed.

The VET Recruiter has 25 years of experience helping organizations with their Animal Health and Veterinary hiring efforts. We know what it takes to identify, engage, recruit, and hire the best candidates in the employment marketplace. And we can help your organization, as well.

Click here to see examples of The VET Recruiter’s placements. These are all examples of real positions that we have filled in the Animal Health industry and Veterinary profession.

We also invite you to contact us for more information regarding our recruiting process and how The VET Recruiter can help your organization identify, engage, and recruit the best talent in the Animal Health industry and Veterinary profession to fill your open positions and meet your hiring needs.

You can also call (918) 488-3901 or (800) 436-0490 or send an email to stacy@thevetrecruiter.com.

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