Episode #232 – What the Veterinary Talent Shortage Means for Employers and Professionals

The Vet Recruiter®
The Vet Recruiter®
Episode #232 - What the Veterinary Talent Shortage Means for Employers and Professionals
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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 and Veterinary industries. The VET Recruiter’s focus is to solve talent-centric problems for the Animal Health industry and Veterinary profession. In fact, 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’ll be talking about what the Veterinary talent shortage means for employers and Veterinary professionals. Hello, Stacy, and thank you for joining us today.

Stacy: Hello, Julea. As always, I’m glad to be here with you. It has been a couple of weeks since our last podcast.

Julea: Yes, it has. It’s good to be back in the studio with you…. Stacy, we have talked about the fact that there is a shortage of qualified candidates in the Veterinary profession before. However, today’s topic is a bit different than what we’ve addresses in the past, is that correct?

Stacy: Yes, that’s correct. There are a couple of reasons for this. The first deals with what is happening in the employment marketplace overall right now.

Julea: Tell us more Stacy.

Stacy: Well, you might have seen some of the headlines and news stories that have been circulating on the Internet and on social media. One of the things they’re calling it is “The Great Resignation.” There are many people in the marketplace who have quit their job recently, and there are more who are in the process of doing so. This has been happening during the past few months, and at this point, it doesn’t appear as though it’s going to be stopping anytime soon.

Julea: Yes, I have seen those headlines. It appears as though there is definitely a labor shortage in the job market right now.

Stacy: Yes, and it’s affecting just about every area and every industry of the marketplace. In fact, I saw a news story the other day that said pizza parlors were offering $500 signing bonuses for delivery drivers.

Julea: Really? I don’t think I’ve ever seen that before.

Stacy: Yes, and neither have I. It goes to show you what is happening the marketplace as the moment in terms of employers and workers.

Julea: And I’m guessing the situation is even more drastic in the Veterinary profession?

Stacy: That’s right! As you mentioned a few minutes ago, we’ve been talking about the shortage of veterinarians in the job market on this podcast ever since we started the podcast. That’s because there has been a shortage for the past several years, and current market conditions have only helped to make that shortage more severe.

Julea: How bad is it right now Stacy?

Stacy: Every month, the American Veterinary Medical Association releases what it calls its “Chart of the Month.” For the month of July, the AVMA released a chart titled “New Job Seekers and Available Jobs.” The statistics in the chart were based on information contained in the AVMA’s Veterinary Career Center job posting sit, and those statistics were eye-opening.

Tell us more about that Stacy.

Stacy: I will, So, according to the AVMA’s chart, there are far more available Veterinary jobs in the marketplace than there are new job seekers. In fact, as recently as April of this year, there were 12.5 jobs available for every job seeker.

Julea: Wow! So for every one person looking for a job, there are nearly 13 open jobs in the Veterinary profession.

Stacy: Yes, but that’s just the “tip of the iceberg,” because there some other interesting aspects of the AVMA’s chart.

First, the 12.5 jobs available for every job seeker is the average for all employment categories in the Veterinary profession. That means it’s higher for some categories and lower for other.

Julea: What are those categories?

Stacy: The category with the greatest disparity was veterinarians. That’s because, according to the AVMA, there were 18.5 jobs for every job seeker in that category. For technicians and assistants, the disparity was 5.9 jobs for every job seeker, and it was 12.0 jobs for every jobseeker in the other categories within the Veterinary profession.

Julea: That’s crazy! You mean for every veterinarian who is a job seeker, there are almost 20 open Veterinary jobs in the marketplace?

Stacy: Yes, that’s right. And keep in mind that this trend in the AVMA’s Veterinary Career Center has been ongoing for at least the past two years, with the organization’s information going back as far as January of 2019. So in actuality, it’s been more than two years and also two and a half.

Julea: Has the disparity been growing since then?

Stacy: Yes, it has. In fact, the disparity between the number of available jobs and the number of job seekers has been growing during the past two years. The smallest that the disparity has been was 3.7 jobs posted for every job seeker.

Julea: And we’re way above that now, so the disparity just continues to grow over time.

Stacy: Yes, that has been the case and continues to be the case, and right now, no one can say with any degree of certainty whether the trend will reverse itself. It could very well keep going in the same direction, with the disparity growing larger and larger. And that might be the case because there are a couple of other factors involved.

Julea: Which factors are those?

Stacy: The first factor is the nation’s robust economic recovery. I saw a news article just yesterday that stated the recession we recently endured was the shortest one on record.

Julea: It was certainly much different than what we endured during the Great Recession.

Stacy: Yes, absolutely! The lengths of the Great Recession and our most recent economic downturn are like night and day. We as a country are definitely in recovery mode right now. According to a recent article in The Wall Street Journal:

  • New businesses are popping up at the fastest pace on record.
  • The rate at which workers quit their jobs matches the highest going back at least to the year 2000. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is up nearly 18% from its pre-pandemic peak in February of 2020.
  • Home prices nationwide are nearly 14% higher since February of 2020.

Julea: So people are doing better financially, and that gives them more leverage in their employment and in hiring situations, is that right?

Stacy: Yes, that’s right. They also have more disposable income, which also has an impact on the Veterinary profession.

Julea: How’s that?

Stacy: They have more money to spend on their pets, and that includes on Veterinary care and services. Spending in the Pet industry and Veterinary profession have been growing for the past several years. As an example, according to the American Pet Products Association, the total U.S. Pet industry expenditures were $90.5 billion in 2018, $97.1 billion in 2019, and $103.6 billion in 2020. And that’s billion with a “b” and not million with an “m.”

Julea: Wow! Is spending projected to increase again this year?

Stacy: Yes, it is. Some projections put the total at $110 billion in 2021.

Julea: Is this part of the reason why there is such a disparity between the number of Veterinary job seekers and the number of Veterinary jobs?

Stacy: Absolutely. And as we discussed at the top of today’s show, we’ve been discussing the shortage of Veterinary talent for quite a few years now. Let’s not forget the projections from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). According to the latest information released in June of this year, the BLS expects Veterinary jobs to grow by more than 16% between now and 2029. That translates into approximately 14,000 new jobs within the profession during that timeframe.

Julea: Stacy, I have a question. If there are 18.5 jobs for every jobseeker now, what will the ratio between three, five, or 10 years from now?

Stacy: That is an excellent question, and it’s one that Veterinary employers and organizations must ask themselves. The BLS numbers were just the baseline, and now everything that’s happened during the past 12 to 18 months has only served to “pour gasoline on the fire,” so to speak. It’s made a talent shortage in the profession even more severe, which has made everything more challenging for employers, especially hiring the professionals they need to hire to keep up with rapidly growing demand.

And one of the reasons it’s more challenging is the Law of Supply and Demand.

Julea: Can you elaborate on that?

Stacy: Of course. According to this law, the price of something is determined by the interaction of the supply and demand of that something. If there is an increase in supply, then it will result in lower prices until demand is lowered to meet supply. On the other hand, if there is a decrease in supply, then it will result in higher prices until supply is increased to meet demand.

Julea: So the more scarce something is, the more expensive it is?

Stacy: That’s right.

Julea: So if Veterinary talent is scarce, then that means . . .

Stacy: Veterinary talent is expensive. On more than one occasion during the past year, I have been witness to a situation where a Veterinary employer made an offer to a candidate that was much lower than what the candidate was expecting.

Julea: Was the employer trying to “lowball” the candidate?

Stacy: No, actually that was not the case. They didn’t grasp the amount of compensation that was required to hire the candidate. They didn’t realize that their offer was going to be much too low to attract the candidate, and because of the Law of Supply and Demand and what is happening in the Veterinary profession, that’s the case with the best candidates, especially the top 5% to 10% of candidates.

Julea: What does this mean for professionals?

Stacy: It means that it’s a great time to be in the Veterinary profession! As we mentioned, there are many jobs and employment opportunities, and there’s because of that, there is no better time for professionals to be exploring those opportunities. That’s because there is an abundance of jobs, a shortage of candidates, and that adds up to more compensation when one of those candidates is willing to make a change in order to grow their career.

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’d like to add one more thing, and this is for professionals and job seekers. Even though conditions are very favorable right now for them in the marketplace, this is not the time to be reactive or to rest on your laurels. Instead, this is the perfect time to be proactive and take action concerning your career. I’ve always said that the best time to look for a new job is when you’re already employed, and that is especially the case in this current job market. Life is not just going to “come to you.” You have to go get what you want, and that includes when conditions appear to be in your favor.

Julea: Stacy, thank you for all of this great information. Before we end today’s podcast episode, I wanted to remind our listening audience that, not only has Stacy been an executive recruiter for more than 20 years, but she is also considered an Animal Health key opinion leader and Veterinary key opinion leader. Isn’t that right Stacy?

Stacy: Yes, that’s correct.

Julea: Why is that so important and why does that set you and The VET Recruiter apart from other recruiting firms in the marketplace?

Stacy: My experience as an Animal Health Executive Recruiter has helped me to become an Animal Health and Veterinary thought and opinion leader, and that is a role that I’m proud to fill and one that I take seriously. Not only does The VET Recruiter offer this podcast, but we also have a newsletter for both professionals and employers and I conduct presentations and webinars within the Animal Health industry and Veterinary profession on a regular basis. You can read past newsletter articles on The VET Recruiter website, and you can also see recorded versions of my webinars and presentations.

It’s important to me to be able to share my expertise with others. Wisdom does come with experience, as the saying goes, and what’s the point of gaining wisdom if you don’t share it with other people so they can use it to increase their quality of life?

Julea: For more information about The VET Recruiter and the services that it provides to both Animal Health and Veterinary employers and professionals, we invite everyone listening to visit www.thevetrecruiter.com. Stacy, as always, thank you for joining us today.

Stacy: It’s been my pleasure, Julea, and I look forward to our next episode of the “Animal Health and Veterinary Employment Insider”!