Episode #220 – Your Animal Health or Veterinary Job Interview, Part 5: The Job Application

The Vet Recruiter®
The Vet Recruiter®
Episode #220 - Your Animal Health or Veterinary Job Interview, Part 5: The Job Application
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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, 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 focus is to solve talent-centric problems for 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.

Today, we will be continuing our series focusing on the interview stage of the hiring process for job seekers and professionals in the Animal Health and Veterinary employment marketplace.

Hello, Stacy, and thank you for joining us today.

Stacy: Hello, Julea. As always, I’m glad to be here with you today.

Julea: Stacy, I’m guessing from the title of today’s podcast episode, we’ll be talking about the job application today.

Stacy: Yes, that is correct Julea. Some people might be wondering why we’re including the job application in a podcast series about the interview process, but it’s an important part of the hiring process. And it’s important even if a job seeker or candidate does not believe that it’s important.

Julea: Tell us about that Stacy.

Stacy: So, Julea, the point I want to make is this; even if a person is considered a top candidate for an employer’s open position, it doesn’t mean that person has the freedom and flexibility to circumvent the hiring process. A candidate is being evaluated every step of the way throughout the interview process, and this includes the job application.

Julea: Stacy, we have been discussing how much of a candidates’ job market it is right now, especially in the Veterinary profession. What kind of impact does that have on this discussion?

Stacy: That’s a good question. Because it is such a candidates’ market, the possibility exists that an employer may not ask a candidate to fill out a formal job application. And if that’s the case, that’s all fine and good. However, there are some employers—including top employers—that still ask job seekers and candidates to fill out an application. And if a candidate is asked to do so, it would be in their best interests to do so. After all, if you’re serious about exploring other employment opportunities and new jobs in the marketplace, then you should be willing to fill out an application.

The most important thing you should realize about the application is that the employer takes it seriously. If the employer takes it seriously, then you as a candidate hoping to get an offer of employment should also take it seriously.

Julea: That certainly makes sense Stacy.

Stacy: It does, so what a job seeker candidate must not do is view the job application as an inconvenience.

Julea: How should they view it, then?

Stacy: As an opportunity! Specifically, an opportunity to show the employer yet again why they are the right person for the job.

So with that in mind, before addressing some best practices for filling out the job application, I have a list of things that a person should not do. First, do not write, “See resume” on the application and then not fill it out completely. Or, in the case of an electronic application, you don’t want to email the hiring manager to tell them that all the information they need is on your resume. If you were to do either of these two things, you wouldn’t have to worry about accepting an offer of employment . . . because more than likely, you won’t be getting one.

What you DO want to do is brand yourself in the most positive way possible. Remember that the rules of personal branding are still in play here. I have a list of ways that a potential employer might be evaluating a candidate with the job application. Namely, they could be evaluating a candidate on:

  • Attention to detail
  • Ability to follow directions
  • Accuracy of facts provided
  • Desire for the job

Julea: Desire for the job? Stacy, can you elaborate on that point a bit more?

Stacy: Yes, the employer is evaluating the candidate based on how completely and thoroughly the job application is completed. From the candidate’s perspective, this is an opportunity to show the organization that you excel in all of these areas and that you go above and beyond what is necessary to succeed. Sure, you have a stellar resume, and yes, you’re going to wow them during the interview, but to top it all off, you nailed the job application.

Julea: When you ace the job application, it gives the employer another reason to consider your candidacy, is that the case?

Stacy: Yes, that’s true. It makes it more difficult for the employer to consider other people when you excel across the board.

On the other hand, if you “blow off” the job application and don’t take it seriously, then the employer is not going to take your candidacy for their open position seriously. It’s as simple as that.

And I have a case study that helps to illustrate all of this.

Julea: I look forward to hearing this case study Stacy.

Stacy: Our firm had a candidate who interviewed very well with the organization. In fact, the hiring manager was very interested in this individual until they asked the candidate to fill out the employment application.

Unfortunately, the candidate only filled the application out halfway, leaving many questions blank. I think what happened was that the candidate thought the application was only a formality and that their performance during the interview had already earned them a place on the short list of final candidates, if not an outright offer of employment.

Julea: I’m guessing that wasn’t the case.

Stacy: You’re guessing right because it wasn’t the case. That’s because the hiring manager told me that they were looking for someone who paid attention to detail and that the partially completed employment application was a bad sign and did not bode well for the candidate. Just like that, the candidate went from being a potential frontrunner to the back of the pack.

Julea: And they did not receive an offer of employment.

Stacy: They did not, no matter how well they performed during the interview. As important as the face-to-face interview is, it’s not the only consideration for employers during the hiring process. Even if you “hit a home run,” so to speak, during your interview, inattention to detail in other aspects of the process could very well negate all that you accomplished during that interview.

So in a very real sense, the job application can mean the difference between receiving an offer of employment for a great new job opportunity or being disqualified from the process altogether.

Julea: So how should job seekers and candidates approach and fill out the job application?

Stacy: Great question, and I have some best practices for doing so.

When it comes to the employment application, you might receive one well in advance of your interview, you might need to fill one out online, you might be given one to fill out once you arrive for the face-to-face interview. Or you might encounter a combination of these situations.

Whatever the case may be, it’s important to not lose your focus or get tripped out on the application. As we’ve already discussed, this is either an opportunity for you to stand out and brand yourself in a positive way or it can nullify your candidacy and disqualify you from the hiring process.

First, if it’s possible, if possible, ask for a second application or make a photocopy of it. Once again, this is if you’re filling out the application in person and not online. Make your final application copy as neat, accurate, and complete as you possibly can.

Second, this goes without saying, but I’m going to say it, anyway: avoid errors in spelling, grammar, and punctuation. It’s a good idea to be a vigilant about this on the job application as you were about it on your resume.

Third, in the section labeled “Education,” include all education relevant to the job, including seminars and other training. If possible, all of your education should go on the application. List your highest degrees first, unless directed otherwise.

Fourth, completely fill out the work history section, including accomplishments. Once again, do NOT try to substitute a resume for this section. Only attach the resume if it includes information not specifically asked for on the application.

Fifth, provide business and personal references. We’ve discussed references before on the podcast. Of course, you should have spoken to your references in advance and know what they will say regarding your candidacy.

Julea: Stacy, what about the section on salary, if there is a section on salary? That’s something that I’ve been wondering about. What’s the best way to approach that section?

Stacy: That’s a great question. Complete all items on the application except for expected salary. I know this sounds counterintuitive, since I’ve been talking about focus and thoroughness. You can write, “Negotiable” or “I have a salary in mind.”

Julea: What if the hiring manager asks about it and references what you wrote on the application?

Stacy: You can say, “I have a salary range for which I am looking.  I won’t know where in my range this position falls until the end of the interview.  I did not want to give you false or misleading information.” That should be good enough to satisfy their curiosity and still keep you on the list of candidates whom they’re considering.

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

Stacy: Yes, I want to emphasize again that the job application is not an inconvenience, but an opportunity. The application represents the chance to show every employer that you are the candidate of choice, so don’t let the application instead be an excuse for them to rule out of the process and out of consideration.

Julea: Stacy, thank you so much for all of this great information. And there is additional information about the job interview on The VET Recruiter website, is that correct?

Stacy: Yes, that’s right. In fact, there is quite a bit of information on our website for professionals in the Animal Health industry and Veterinary profession. In the section under “Career Resources,” there are interview tips for job seekers and professionals. These tips include questions to ask during the interview, how to answer certain questions, dos, and don’ts to help make your interview successful, how to navigate the behavioral-based interview, and how to close the interview.

And I also recommend that those who visit the website sign up for our monthly newsletter, which also contains tips and strategies for growing your career. You can also follow The VET Recruiter on the various social media channels, including LinkedIn. If you’re going to follow us on just one platform, LinkedIn would be the one that I would suggest. We share a lot of career-related information on LinkedIn, as well.

And of course, if you visit the website, you can also submit your resume and fill out a profile, so that you’re considered for new job openings when they arise.

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

Stacy: been my pleasure, and I look forward to our next episode of the Animal Health and Veterinary Employment Insider, which will be the next episode in our series about the interview stage of the hiring process!