Episode #107 – How to Position Yourself as the Best Candidate for a Job

Samantha: Welcome to “The Animal Health Employment Insider,” brought to you by The VET Recruiter. In this podcast, executive search consultant and veterinary recruiter, Stacy Pursell, founder and CEO of The VET Recruiter, provides insight and practical advice for both employers and job seekers in the Animal Health industry and Veterinary profession. The VET Recruiter’s mission is to help Animal Health and Veterinary companies hire top talent, while helping animal health and veterinary professionals attain career-enhancing opportunities that increase their quality of life.

In today’s podcast, we’ll be talking about how someone can position themselves as the best candidate for a particular job opening. Hello, Stacy, and that you for joining us today.

Stacy: Hello, Samantha. As always, I’m glad to be here.

Samantha: Stacy, we’ve touched upon this topic before, specifically in podcast episode #7, which was quite a while ago. In fact, it was 100 podcasts ago! The title of that episode was “How to be a Top Candidate in Today’s Market.” How does today’s podcast differ from that one?

Stacy: In podcast #7, we discussed being a top candidate in general within the employment marketplace. Today, we’re going to address being the best candidate for a particular Animal Health job or Veterinary job, not just in general.

Samantha: I see. Where would you like to start?

Stacy: Well, I would like to reference a few points from that previous podcast, just to set a framework for today’s discussion. Those few points are the three things that an Animal Health or Veterinary professional needs if they want to be considered a top candidate in the marketplace.

Samantha: What are those three things?

Stacy: First, they should have, at minimum, 80% to 85% of the skills required for the position.

Second, the candidate must be willing to accept a salary in the range offered by the organization.

And third, the professional must be motivated by something other than money. If money is their only motivator, then they’re at risk for accepting a counter-offer, should their current employer make one. Candidates who are more likely to accept a counter-offer are generally less attractive to hiring managers.

Samantha: So those three points will serve as our backdrop or our framework for today’s discussion?

Stacy: Yes, they will. They represent the general strategy for becoming a top candidate, and I’d like for our listeners to keep them in mind while we discuss today’s topic. And one of the reasons I wanted to talk about this today is because even if candidates pass the three points I just referenced, that does not mean they’re a shoo-in for a job.

Samantha: Why is that?

Stacy: Because they could make a costly mistake during the hiring process that could cost them their candidacy for the position. They could have 100% of the skills required, they could be willing to accept a salary in the employer’s range, and they could have a motivator other than money, but they could still make a mistake that would cause a hiring manager to no longer consider them.

Samantha: So you could be an Animal Health or Veterinary professional in a good position within the marketplace, but then you make a mistake during the hiring process that takes you out of the running for a particular position. Is that the case?

Stacy: Yes, that’s exactly the case.

Samantha: So what are the things that professionals can do to avoid these mistakes and position themselves as the best candidate for a particular position?

Stacy: There are six main things, and the first thing is to submit a resume that focuses on accomplishments. Yes, skills are important, and as we’ve mentioned, you must have at least 85% of the skills necessary for the position. But skills will only get you so far. Employers want to know what you’ve done with those skills. They want to know what you’ve accomplished with other organizations, so they know what to expect if they hire you.

Remember, employers hire people for three main reasons:

  1. They believe the person will make money for the organization.
  2. They believe the person will save money for the organization.
  3. They believe the person will both make money and save money for the organization.

It all comes down to value. The hiring manager has to believe the person they hire will contribute and ad some sort of value to the organization.

That’s why a hiring authority will want to know what a candidate has accomplished. In other words, they want to know how a candidate has accomplished one of these three things—or all three of them—with their current or previous employers.

The next three things on our list all involve personal branding.

Samantha: They do? Why is that important?

Stacy: Well, the behavior that a hiring manager sees during the interview process is the behavior they’ll assume they’ll see if the person is hired. A candidate is not just being evaluated on their skills and accomplishments. They’re being evaluated in a comprehensive fashion, and a person’s behavior is an important factor in the decision-making process.

Samantha: What is the next thing on our list?

Stacy: The next thing is returning calls, emails, and other correspondence in a timely fashion. No matter how good you are or how many skills or accomplishments you have, you can’t be considered a top candidate if you’re not responsible. Time is critical during the hiring process, and you can’t waste the time of people who are deciding if you’re the person they want to hire.

The third thing on our list is making yourself readily available for interviews.

Samantha: Stacy, isn’t that more difficult for those professionals who are already employed?

Stacy: Yes, it is. However, making yourself available for interviews indicates that you’re both flexible and that you have a high level of interest in the position. Some candidates even take a personal day or a vacation day to interview, if it means taking a step closer to landing an Animal Health job or Veterinary job they really want. Employers want to hire people who are interested in the position and who show that they’re interested.

The fourth item on our list is to always be on time for appointments. This applies to anything that’s been scheduled. It could be a phone screen, or it could be a face-to-face interview. It could be for a video interview with a web cam. You must be on time for anything that is scheduled during the hiring process. Being on time brands you as someone who can be counted on, and if you can be counted on, then maybe you can be trusted. Being someone who can be trusted is a highly valuable trait, and it’s definitely how you want to brand yourself.

The final two things on our list deal with more logistical or pragmatic items.

Samantha: What might those be?

Stacy: Our fifth item is fully discussing the situation with family members, and I can’t stress this one enough. Hiring managers do not appreciate it when candidates pull out of the hiring process at the last minute because a member of their family is not in full agreement with the move, especially if that move involves relocation.

Samantha: I imagine that you’ve witnessed this happen.

Stacy: Oh, I have. Numerous times. What’s most frustrating is when a candidate will say that everyone in their family is on board, but then that turns out to not be true. You can’t be “sort of sure” that your family is in agreement with the move; you must be 100% sure.

The sixth and final item on our list is being willing and ready to immediately submit your resignation upon accepting an offer of employment.

Samantha: Isn’t what candidates do?

Stacy: Most candidates, but not all candidates. Sadly, some professionals attempt to use an offer of employment from another organization to better their situation at their current employer. We’ve addressed that topic on our podcast before. An organization does not extend an offer to a candidate so that candidate can use it as leverage against their employer. A hiring manager is not going to appreciate that—at all.

Employers want candidates who are decisive, and that’s certainly the case in regards to working for them. Once you accept an offer, you should be prepared to submit your resignation and give two weeks’ notice. Yes, you may need to give slightly more than two weeks, but you certainly don’t need to give months of notice. The bottom line is that if you’re not ready to leave your current employer, then you’re really not ready to conduct a job search in the first place.

Samantha: It sounds as though if an Animal Health professional or Veterinary professional wants to position themselves as the best candidate, it’s something they must take seriously.

Stacy: That’s absolutely correct. You can’t go into the process half-hearted or uncommitted. Remember that you can position yourself as the best candidate for the position, but then not accept the offer if one is made to you. There is no law that says you have to accept the offer. You can turn down the first one and then accept the second one. Or the third one.

The focus is on positioning yourself as the best candidate. When you do that, then you have the proper amount and the proper kind of leverage. You have the leverage necessary to turn down the offer and perhaps receive a better offer in return.

However, you must take the process seriously, you must do the work that’s necessary, and you must do everything that we discussed today.

Samantha: Stacy, as always, thanks so much for all of this great information today. I’m sure our listeners found it to be of great interest. And thank you for joining us!

Stacy: You’re very welcome, Samantha, and thank you. It’s been my pleasure, and I look forward to our next episode of The Animal Health Employment Insider!