Episode #188 – The Challenges of Making the Move from Veterinary Clinical Practice to the Animal Health Industry

The Vet Recruiter®
The Vet Recruiter®
Episode #188 - The Challenges of Making the Move from Veterinary Clinical Practice to the Animal Health Industry
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Julea Welcome to “The Animal Health and Veterinary Employment Insider,” brought to you by The VET Recruiter. In this podcast, Animal Health Executive Recruiter 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 employers hire top talent, while helping animal health and veterinary professionals attain career-enhancing opportunities that increase their quality of life.

In today’s podcast episode, we will be talking about making the move from veterinary clinical practice to the Animal Health industry. Hello, Stacy, and thank you for joining us today.

Stacy: Hello, Julea. As always, I am glad to be here with you.

Julea: Stacy, today’s podcast episode is connected to last week’s, is that correct? Last week, we talked about “Veterinary Job Opportunities That Exist in the Animal Health Industry.”

Stacy: Yes, that’s right. Last week was the first part of our conversation. Since this is such a big topic and such an important topic, I wanted to finish the conversation on the podcast this week.

Julea: What will we be talking about this week, specifically Stacy?

Stacy: As the title suggests, we will be discussing the challenges that exist for those veterinary professionals who are looking to make the move from veterinary clinical practice to the Animal Health industry. Unfortunately, there are some people who are not aware of the challenges or who think it’s going to be easy. However, it’s not easy, and I’m going to present the reasons why that is the case today.

Julea: Okay. Sounds good Stacy. Where would you like to start?

Stacy: The first thing that I’d like to do is set the stage by discussing the state of affairs in the Animal Health industry. Prior to the pandemic, there were many acquisitions, mergers, and consolidations within the industry. In fact, one of the largest acquisitions just occurred when Elanco bought Bayer Animal Health.

Julea: Yes, and that acquisition recently happened during the pandemic. So, Stacy, do you expect there will there be more consolidations in the Animal Health industry?

Stacy: There will likely continue to be mergers and acquisitions. In fact, Merck Animal Health has closed four global acquisitions during the pandemic already.

However, Phillips Pet Food & Supplies and Animal Supply Co. canceled a merger plan originally announced in February, citing difficulties caused by the pandemic. Overall, though, I think we can expect there to continue to be more mergers and acquisitions, as compared to less.

Julea: How else has the pandemic affected the Animal Health industry?

Stacy: When the pandemic started, outside sales reps were not able to call on veterinarians. We discussed Sales & Marketing within the Animal Health industry last week.

The thing to keep in mind that is the pandemic’s effects have not been consistent across the country. When the virus first hit the United States, the effects were felt the most on the East Coast and West Coast. Then they moved to other parts of the country. The bottom line is that there is a lot of uncertainty involved with the pandemic and it’s going to create unpredictable situations and circumstances.

If you are looking to make a move from veterinary clinical practice to the Animal Health industry, you should be aware of what is happening in Animal Health and how the pandemic and the recession are affecting the marketplace.

Julea: What else should veterinary professionals keep in mind if they are considering making a move to the Animal Health industry?

Stacy: Veterinary professionals who want to make a move to the Animal Health industry should keep in mind that companies want to hire people who have a positive reason for change, such as they are looking for a greater challenge or want to move to the business side.

On the other hand, employers are NOT looking to hire people who are looking to escape veterinary clinical practice or are running away from something. They want to hire people who are motivated for the right reasons who want to better themselves and are not running away from a negative situation.

There are two more things you should consider when thinking about making a move from veterinary clinical practice to the Animal Health industry. First, the transition may require you to work farther away from working with animals. If you enjoy working with animals, then that is something that should be part of your decision-making process because in industry you will likely not be hands on with animals every day.

Second, while you might be tempted to think that you’re wasting your veterinary school degree because you’re not in veterinary clinical practice, you may actually have the opportunity to impact more animals by working in the Animal Health industry instead.

It all comes down to what is most important to you. Once you know what those things are, then you can make sound decisions regarding your career.

Julea: Stacy, are there other challenges involved in making the move from veterinary clinical practice to the Animal Health industry?

Stacy: There absolutely are. First of all, as I pointed out earlier, there have been and continue to be mergers and acquisitions. That means Animal Health employers are eliminating redundancies in order to be more efficient. They don’t need two marketing teams or two R&D teams. This is something that is likely to continue during a pandemic and a recession as companies continue to control costs by improving efficiencies.

The reason that this is important is that there are not as many jobs available in the Animal Health industry as there are in veterinary clinical practice. That is the reality of the situation. There are more jobs open in veterinary clinical practice, especially right now and as we have talked about before, there is a shortage of veterinarians for veterinary clinical practice. There is not a shortage of veterinarians wanting to move into the Animal Health Industry. So, if you are planning to make this move from veterinary clinical practice to the Animal Health Industry, keep in mind that there is more competition for those jobs in the Animal Health industry.

Julea: Is this something that veterinary professionals are aware of?

Stacy: For the most part, I would say they are not. And because of that, some of them are also not aware that they might have to make sacrifices for this kind of career change, and I have an example to illustrate this. I was talking with a veterinarian candidate recently who wanted to get a job in the Animal Health industry, and there was a job, a good job. The only problem was that he would have relocate to get it and he didn’t want to do that. So he lost out on the job.

To get something, sometimes you have to give something up. You cannot come to the table with a list of demands for an employer. If you want a job in the Animal Health industry, then you must be flexible and meet the employer’s requirements. We are in a pandemic. We are in a recession. Candidates do not “hold all the cards” anymore. They do to some degree in veterinary clinical practice due to the shortage of veterinarians and the number of openings. However, that is not the case in the Animal Health Industry If you want to work in the Animal Health industry, you may have to relocate in order to do so. Keep that in mind. Flexibility is key.

Julea: All of that makes sense Stacy. What other challenges exist for those veterinary professionals who want to make the move from veterinary clinical practice to the Animal Health industry?

Stacy: Veterinary professionals who are considering this move should know there are some critical skills they should possess. The first of these skills is communication, and I’m referring to both oral and written communication.

In terms of oral communication skills, it’s important to be able to present information which can include giving talks or presentations. You can gain this experience in a number of different settings, including speaking at local clubs and Veterinary meetings and conferences.

In addition, being able to communicate in writing is important. You may have to write articles or publish papers and you need to know basic written communication such as emails. You can gain writing experience by writing articles for local clubs, for newsletters and magazines, and for veterinary publications.

Another great idea would be to publish case reports in a peer-reviewed journal.  It could benefit you to take a course in technical writing. I have a job open now for a Director of Publications where I’m looking for a veterinarian with experience writing, editing and also people management.

Julea: What other skills should our listening audience know about Stacy?

Stacy: There are two other skills that I’d like to highlight. The first one is computer literacy. If you’re going to make the move from practice to industry, you should be able to navigate the Microsoft Office Suite. This includes Word, Excel, Outlook, and PowerPoint. In industry you may often use PowerPoint.

In addition, you should be able to do basic and advanced Internet searches and be familiar with web-based services for business purposes. Among these services are GoToMeeting, GoToWebinar, Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Google Hangout, Google Docs, and Slack.

The second skill deals with business. Specifically, it’s very important that you understand the business end of your career niche. In other words, if you want to work in the Animal Health industry, you must understand how the business works.

This means understanding client relations, marketing, record keeping, and financial management. You should also learn how to manage a budget and attend veterinary meetings and attend lectures on practice management.

Also, those interested in making the move from veterinary clinical practice to the Animal Health industry should be willing to adapt to their employer’s changing needs.

Julea: What does that mean Stacy, or would you please elaborate on that?

Stacy: It means that if your employer’s needs change, then your job may change. As a result, you must be willing to continually learn continuously.

Don’t wait for someone else to pay for you to sign up for continuous education and training. You must be proactive and learn the skills you need to know to grow and get ahead in your career to stay relevant and marketable. Track your efforts. Employers will want to know what you are doing to improve yourself. You need to continue to work on improving yourself. You never stop improving yourself and learning new skills.

Read business books, lots of them. I recommend Jack Canfield, The Success Principles and Napoleon Hill, Think and Grow Rich. Dale Carnegie, How to Win Friends and Influence People.

In addition, you need to be able to work as part of a team. Working well as a team is how a business reaches its goals, and if you want to excel in industry, that’s what you must do. You must be able to work well in a variety of different cultures and be able to adapt quickly.

Julea: Stacy, what are the steps that a person would need to take in order to land a position in the Animal Health industry?

Stacy: Well, it should come as no surprise that the first thing you would need is a resume. That resume should include name, contact information, and job history in reverse chronological order, starting with your current position. It should also include skills and experience, special abilities, honors and awards, and groups or associations to which you belong.

As far as length is concerned, your resume should be no longer than two pages long. There are many resources on The VET Recruiter website to help you build your resume including resume templates and a webinar I did with the owner of a resume writing company.

In addition to a resume, you need to engage in some networking, which might open up opportunities for you. For instance, you can talk with sales reps who come into your practice or other contacts you already have in the industry. Attending trade shows. Right now, we are having to attend these virtually, but I still recommend attending.

Julea: What about LinkedIn? Is that still a good place for networking?

Stacy: Absolutely! With LinkedIn, you can build both your credibility and your personal brand. One way to do that is by getting recommendations from current and former colleagues.

Now LinkedIn is a great tool, but you should not rely on it exclusively. That is because nothing can replace the value of face-to-face networking, including having a good Animal Health recruiter as part of your network.

Julea: We have talked about working with an Animal Health recruiter many times before on the podcast. I imagine it is even more important to work with one if you are attempting to make the move from veterinary clinical practice to the Animal Health industry. Is that right Stacy?

Stacy:  If you are looking to make the move from veterinary clinical practice to the Animal Health industry, it is a good idea to develop a relationship with a good Animal Health recruiter, a recruiter who specializes in the Animal Health industry because they will have knowledge of who the Animal Health companies are and where the opportunities are. They will know who is hiring.

Recruiters have more contacts with hiring managers than most individuals because their job is to network with hiring managers and know where the jobs are. Not only that, but the most sought-after jobs are not posted on the Internet. Many of them can only be obtained through a recruiter or through networking. This is what is called the “hidden job market,” and even though we’re in the middle of a pandemic, that job market still exists.

Julea: Stacy, we’re just about out of time. Is there anything else that you’d like to add before we end today’s episode?

Stacy: Yes, I just want to mention once again that I recommend establishing a relationship with an Animal Health recruiter long before you actually need one. Even if you are not considering a move from veterinary clinical practice to the Animal Health industry or if you are happily employed right now, you never know when you might need an Animal Health recruiter. After all, who wouldn’t want to know about better opportunities that have the potential to change their life?

The fact of the matter is that your relationship with an Animal Health recruiter is one of the most critical relationships you will have as you navigate your career. That’s because recruiters can open doors for you.

Julea Stacy, thank you so much for all of this great information. And for those people who are considering a job change, be sure to check out our hot jobs on our website today at www.thevetrecruiter.com

Stacy: Yes, For those listeners who want to change their current job situation and are interested in exploring Animal Health jobs or Veterinary jobs, I invite them to visit our website at www.thevetrecruiter.com. If you are an Animal Health company or Veterinary practice needing to hire talent reach out to us at www.thevetrecruiter.com

Julea Once again, the website address for The VET Recruiter is www.thevetrecruiter.com. Stacy, as always, thank you for joining us today.

Stacy:  It has been my pleasure Julea. I look forward to our next episode of the Animal Health and Veterinary Employment Insider!