Episode #198 – Why You Can’t Let COVID-19 Keep Your Animal Health or Veterinary Career ‘on the Sidelines’

The Vet Recruiter®
The Vet Recruiter®
Episode #198 - Why You Can’t Let COVID-19 Keep Your Animal Health or Veterinary Career ‘on the Sidelines’
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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’ll be talking about COVID-19, how it can affect your Animal Health or Veterinary career, and what you should do about it. Hello, Stacy, and thank you for joining us today.

Stacy: Hello, Julea. As always, I am glad to be here with you and looking forward to diving into today’s podcast.

Julea: Yes, Stacy, what prompted you to choose this topic for today’s podcast episode?

Stacy: There are a couple of reasons Julea. The first one has to do with the COVID-19 virus and pandemic. One of the big questions that people have right now is, “When will things go back to normal?” This is a logical question to ask, considering everything that’s happening in the country and around the world. After all, there are some people who are thinking that this not a good time to make a job change or even consider other career opportunities because of the pandemic.

In my role as an Animal Health executive recruiter and Veterinary Recruiter, when I contact professionals about employment opportunities, I occasionally hear responses like, “It’s not a good time to make a move” or “I think I should wait until the pandemic has settled down or until the pandemic is over or until there is a vaccine.”

Julea: So when DO you think things will go back to normal?

Stacy: The most candid answer that I can give is, “Possibly never.” And that’s why it is so important for people to adjust to the “new normal” or “new reality” and take a proactive approach to growing their Animal Health or Veterinary career.

Julea: What about the possibility of a vaccine, now that you just mentioned it? Won’t that help things get back to normal?

Stacy: Well, there is still plenty of uncertainty surrounding the vaccine, including when one will be readily available, how many vaccines there will be, and how effective those vaccines will be once they’re released. I know that a couple of manufacturers have said recently that their vaccines are more than 90% effective, which would be great if that was the case, but you never know for sure until they are widely distributed. And that might not be until next year.

Because there is so much uncertainty and we don’t know when things will be back to normal or if they’ll be back to normal at all, it’s not a good idea to put your career on hold or keep your career “on the sidelines.”

And there’s another good reason why it’s not a good idea to put your Animal Health or Veterinary career on hold.

Julea: What reason is that?

Stacy: The reason that we’ve talked about before on the podcast: that there is currently a lot of opportunity in the Animal Health industry and Veterinary profession, despite the pandemic.

For example, there are more than 3,300 open positions listed on the American Veterinary Medical Association website right now, and that total has been rising steadily for the past several months.

Julea: Wow, Stacy, that is a lot of jobs! And those are active open positions that employers are trying to fill right now isn’t that right?

Stacy: Yes, and I know for a fact that number still does not account for ALL of the open positions that currently exist in the Animal Health industry and Veterinary profession. There are even more than that.

Not only that, but even though the National Unemployment Rate has spiked in recent months, the unemployment rate in the Veterinary profession was anywhere from 0.5% to 1.5% before the pandemic started. Even if it doubled in the same way that the National Unemployment Rate has doubled, it would only be 1.0% to 3.0%, which is still incredibly low.

Julea: But you are saying that even with so many opportunities, some people are choosing not to pursue them?

Stacy: There are some people who are using the pandemic as a reason not to make a move. It comes down to the difference between rational and irrational fear.

Julea: What’s the difference?

Stacy: In my experience, many of the fears that we battle are irrational ones. Here’s the difference:

  • A rational fear is based on something that is likely to happen.
  • An irrational fear is based on nothing but a person conjuring up the worst-case scenario and assuming that scenario is going to happen.

People can have an irrational fear about anything. It could be about the virus or it could be about their boss finding out that they’re looking at other employment opportunities. What the person fears does not make it any more or less likely that they’ll suffer from an irrational fear.

Julea: But Stacy, isn’t the virus something that is a valid reason to be cautious?

Stacy:  I am not saying that you should not take precautions and follow recommended guidelines. Of course you should do those things. I’m saying that if you are taking precautions and following recommended guidelines, then there’s no reason to allow irrational fear to rule your professional life and limit your opportunities for career growth.

Think of it this way: every person who decides to “sit on the sidelines” during this pandemic is one less person you have to compete with in the job market.

Financial guru Warren Buffet said: “Be fearful when others are greedy and be greedy when others are fearful.”

Yes, the pandemic has presented challenges and obstacles. And yes, for some people, there appears to be more to fear than there was before. It’s understandable, but you can’t let fear hold you back from moving forward in your Animal Health or Veterinary career when the right opportunity presents itself.

I have a recent story that illustrates this.

Julea: About the pandemic and professionals allowing it to hold them back?

Stacy: Yes. I recently spoke with a potential candidate who was too afraid to interview because of the pandemic. Her job requires her to go inside a building every day, and with a new employer, she would also have to go into a building every day.

She told me that she knew the people she currently worked with and she knew they did not go to bars, so she felt like she was safe at her current employer. But since she didn’t know what the employees at my client did, she thought they would expose her to the virus.

I told her that my client was following the exact same safety protocols and guidelines as her employer, so she would be at no greater risk working for my client. These protocols are designed to protect the workplace, regardless of where the employees go after work. But she was not convinced and did not move forward with what could have been a better opportunity for her career.

Julea: Stacy, walk us through this case study. Tell us more.

Stacy: The threat for contracting the virus was no greater at my client than it was at this person’s current employer. Both organizations were following exactly the same protocols and guidelines for its employees. Even though this person did not know any of the employees at my client personally or what they did when they weren’t at work, it did not mean that she was at greater risk if she interviewed with my client or eventually went to work there.

Julea: So that’s a prime example of an irrational fear, is that right?

Stacy: Yes, that’s right. There’s no reason to think that my client would have less stringent rules about protecting its employees from the COVID-19 virus than this person’s employer. But because she was suffering from an irrational fear, she conjured up the worst-case scenario—that she would contract the virus if she interviewed with my client—and then she was fearful that it was going to happen. And then, on top of that, she used the reasoning that she did not know the employees at my client personally and did not know what they did and where they went when they weren’t working.

Julea: But she claimed that she knew what her co-workers were doing, that they weren’t going out to bars?

Stacy: Yes, she did.

Julea: No one knows for sure what their co-workers are doing when they are not at work, not 100% of the time. And if some of her co-workers were going to bars and other places, I’m not sure they would offer up that information in a professional setting.

Stacy: Yes, you make some good points. However, an irrational fear is not based on facts like these. It’s just based on fear, which makes it difficult to combat and overcome. The fact of the matter is that this professional was no more likely, from a statistical standpoint, to contract the virus while interviewing at my client than she would be to contract it at her current employer.

Julea: Stacy, you’ve been talking about fear long before the pandemic started, haven’t you?

Stacy: Yes, I have. I have addressed the topic of fear in many of our newsletter articles and podcast episodes. And that was before anyone ever heard of the COVID-19 virus.

Julea: Would you say that this is the most fearful that you have seen people in the employment marketplace? Is this the most reluctant that you’ve seen them to explore opportunities and grow their Animal Health or Veterinary career?

Stacy: The virus and the pandemic have just added another degree of fear and another layer of complexity to the entire situation. As I mentioned earlier, when I contact some people about a career opportunity that has the potential to be better than the job they have right now, some comment about the pandemic not being a good time to make a move. But you know what Julea? There are plenty of people making job changes during this pandemic and some of those people are relocating to other cities during this pandemic to change jobs.

Julea: Stacy, would you say that some professionals are almost using the pandemic as an excuse to not do anything at the moment?

Stacy: I think for some of them, that’s the case. I think it is fear. You can never know what other people are thinking, though. It’s tough to say that another person is making the conscious decision to use the pandemic as an excuse not to seek or explore growth opportunities for the foreseeable future. Sometimes, it’s just an unconscious decision, a knee-jerk reaction where the person doesn’t even think about it that much. They just say that it isn’t a good time for them to consider other opportunities because of the pandemic.

Julea: Even though they were possibly going to say that it wasn’t a good time to consider other opportunities even if there wasn’t a pandemic?

Stacy: Yes, that is right. There are times when we are not in a pandemic when people use fear as a reason not to consider other opportunities. For example, fear of change or fear of the unknown.

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

Stacy: Yes, I’d like to reiterate that I’m not saying that the COVID-19 virus is not dangerous. As I mentioned earlier, the virus IS dangerous for some people. All I’m saying is that it’s a good idea not to have an attitude toward the virus that is based on irrational fear. That is especially the case for those people who have the chance to grow their Animal Health or Veterinary careers during this time. Even just one missed opportunity can set you back in your professional growth and development, and it is difficult to get those opportunities back after the fact.

My advice is to be strategic and be proactive in how you view your employment situation and career and not allow fear to stop you from at least considering opportunities that could change your life for the better.

Julea: Stacy, thank you for all this great advice about not allowing COVID-19 to keep a person’s Animal Health or Veterinary career “on the sidelines.”

And for those people who are considering a job change, reach out to Stacy. Check out the hot jobs on The VET Recruiter website. For those Animal Health employers and Veterinary employers listening today, if you have a critical need you need to fill, reach out to Stacy as well. Stacy is an Animal Health and Veterinary workplace workforce expert and a Key Opinion Leader when it comes to career and hiring related topics.

Stacy: Yes, for those listeners who are interested in being considered for other opportunities and are interested in exploring Animal Health jobs or Veterinary jobs, I invite you to visit our website at www.thevetrecruiter.com. We post new job opportunities on our site on a regular basis.

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

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