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Episode #257 | Avoiding Unprofessional Behavior in Your Animal Health or Veterinary Career

The Vet Recruiter®
The Vet Recruiter®
Episode #257 | Avoiding Unprofessional Behavior in Your Animal Health or Veterinary Career

Joel: 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 some unprofessional behavior recently witnessed in the Animal Health industry and Veterinary profession. Hello, Stacy, and thank you for joining us today.

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

Joel: Stacy, what is meant by the title of today’s podcast episode? Which unprofessional behavior, exactly, are we talking about?

Stacy: It’s a valid question. I’ve seen some unprofessional behavior in the Animal Health industry and Veterinary profession recently, and part of that behavior has included what’s happened between Veterinary professionals and pet owners.

Joel: What’s been happening Stacy?

Stacy: I read an insightful article on website recently, an article written by an oncologist veterinarian who’s been in the profession for 18 years. In this article, he shared some incidents that have happened.

  • His colleagues at an emergency clinic had death threats made to them by clients when the staff didn’t want to discharge a seriously injured animal.
  • A friend of the veterinarian was once told by a client that they would kill their dog with a sledgehammer rather than pay for euthanasia.
  • He was accused of killing a dog that had cancer when the dog had a seizure and died.
  • Clients have yelled at him about problems with their pet that he had nothing to do with.

Joel: Wow, you’re right. That is unprofessional behavior and even worse than that.

Stacy: And of course, the COVID-19 pandemic has not helped at all. It’s almost certainly made things worse. People are under a lot of stress and pressure, and unfortunately, they’re taking it out on others.

Joel: You’re right. Unprofessional behavior seems to be on the rise these days.

Stacy: Today, I want to discuss unprofessional behavior through the lens of a person’s Animal Health or Veterinary career, specifically their efforts to grow their career. We talk about career growth and success on this podcast, and one of the reasons for that is because I enjoy helping people be more successful. It’s one of the reasons that I became an executive recruiter: because I want to help people. Results is one of the core values of The VET Recruiter. We want to get results, both for our clients and also for professionals in the Animal Health industry and Veterinary profession.

But you’re right. Unprofessional behaviors seems to be on the rise these days. You’re not imagining things.

I have an example of this in the form of a poll. Global public relations firm Weber Shandwick and public affairs firm Powell Tate have partnered with KRC Research to conduct a poll about civility in America. Or incivility, as the case may be. The results of the poll have indicated on a consistent basis that around 70 percent of people believe incivility in the country has reached crisis proportions.

Joel: Seventy percent? That’s almost three out of every four people!

Stacy: Right! And when you’re talking about incivility in the workplace, which is something that we just talked about with the veterinarian who wrote the Guardian article, incivility can take many forms. They include:

  • Rude, discourteous behavior
  • Unethical behavior
  • Harassment and/or bullying
  • Micro-aggressions
  • And failure to follow through

Now, it’s one thing to engage in this behavior in the workplace, with your co-workers and colleagues. That’s bad enough because you’re branding yourself in a negative way at your own employer. However, it’s another thing to engage in some of these behaviors when you’re exploring other job opportunities with the hope of advancing and growing your Animal Health or Veterinary career.

Joel: I’m guessing that you’ve seen some instances in which people were unprofessional during the hiring process, is that right.

Stacy: Yes, and they range from the mildly unprofessional to the downright rude. But no matter the severity of the situation, the person still branded themselves in a negative way and put themselves at a disadvantage in terms of their job search. I’ll give you an example of someone who was mildly unprofessional, although the impression that they left was not exactly mild.

This case study is one that I like to call “A Tale of 2 Zoom Calls.” Since we’re still in a time where there are still plenty of Zoom and virtual calls that people have on an everyday basis. This story involves a pair of such calls in which I participated. In the first call, the person looked as though they had just rolled out of bed. She appeared to be in her pajamas, with what looked to be a minimum of personal hygiene. Her hair was a mess. There were also loud noises and distractions on her end of the call. The call started with her being outside. Then her sprinklers went off in her yard, so she picked up her laptop, ran into the house and the inside of her house seemed chaotic with people in the background doing various things and it was distracting. She then was running through her house holding the laptop to run upstairs and I was watching her ceiling fan on the screen. It was an interesting Zoom call.

Joel: She didn’t leave a good impression, did she?

Stacy: Not at all. In contrast to that Zoom call was another call. In this one, the person on the other end of the line was well-dressed and in business attire. In fact, she looked like she was dressed to meet and talk with me in person, instead of over the Internet. She had a high degree of personal hygiene and her surroundings were quiet and free from distractions. She in fact had on a suit and pearls, was dressed very professionally. There were no distractions in the background. We had a pleasant conversation and a productive meeting.

Joel: There is a big difference between those two meetings!

Stacy: There was a big difference, and these two calls were relatively close together, so the differences were all the more noticeable.  One person did not present herself in the most professional way possible, while the other one did. And as I mentioned, the second person left a much better impression on me, and as a result, they put themselves in a much better position to help themselves and their Animal Health or Veterinary career.

Joel: Stacy, is there a difference between being in civil and being unprofessional?

Stacy: That’s a great question and I’m glad you asked it, because there are a few differences between the two, including within the professional setting.

In the workplace, you can have both incivility and a lack of professionalism. When it comes to incivility, the person who is perpetrating the behavior is usually aware of what they’re doing. If someone is bullying you, they usually know that they’re bullying you, even if they somehow think that it’s justified. With unprofessional behavior, the person may or may not be aware of what they’re doing and how their behavior is being perceived.

Joel: But even if the person is not consciously aware of what they’re doing or how their behavior is being perceived, the result is the same, is that right?

Stacy: Correct. They’re still branding themselves poorly and hurting themselves, even if they don’t realize that’s what they’re doing. In many cases, this is because they’re too focused on what they believe is the benefit to them or what they will gain, especially in the short term. Some of the behavior that I’m talking about includes:

Lying or being dishonest on your resume or at any other stage of the hiring process

Being disrespectful during the hiring process, including during the interview

Going around the recruiter’s back and contacting the hiring manager directly

“Ghosting” on the employer, which we’ve discussed previously on the podcast.


These are all examples of what I call “burning bridges” or “closing doors” in your Animal Health or Veterinary career. When a person does things like these, what they’re actually doing is eliminating potential opportunities. This is where the “immediate gratification mindset” can betray you, because you’re not thinking about your opportunities in the future. You’re thinking more about what you might be able to gain in the present, and that’s what can come back to “bite” you in the long run.

And since I gave you an example of someone who was unprofessional without realizing that they were, I have another example of someone who was uncivil to another recruiter.

Joel: Tell me more Stacy.

Stacy: A couple of months ago, a candidate told another recruiter that recruiters take money from candidates’ paychecks.

Joel: Wow, What? That isn’t how things work in the recruiting world, Stacy.

Stacy: Yes. This person was under the mistaken assumption that if a represented her and presented her to an employer and the employer had to pay a recruiting fee to hire her, then she would not receive a sign-on bonus as a result.

Joel: She thought it was an either/or situation, is that it? The employer could either pay the recruiting fee or the sign-on bonus, but not both?

Stacy: That’s right. This other recruiter attempted to convince her that was not the case, but she was adamant about her point of view, and she was rude while she attempted to defend that point of view. It was almost as if she was attacking all recruiters. This is simply not the case. Our client has a recruiting budget, and they are going to spend the money in their recruiting budget on posting ads, working with recruiters, going to career fairs, college, and university recruiting. It has nothing to do with the candidate’s paycheck and the candidate’s paycheck would not be impacted at all. In fact, in many instances, it has been proven to be the case that candidates got a higher compensation package when a recruiter represented them.

Joel:  I would imagine so because they have someone helping them negotiation a fair compensation package on their behalf.

Stacy: True, but Joel, Incivility and unprofessional behavior have seeped into our professional life, so much so that some people have become accustomed to it. In fact, there are some people who believe there is a viable argument FOR “ghosting” an employer?

Joel: You mean a good reason to do it? Why would someone think that?

Stacy: The argument goes something like this. During The Great Recession and the years immediately following it, employers did not let job seekers know when they were no longer a viable candidate for their open position. Some candidates will tell you that’s where “No response IS a response” came from. So, these candidates use the same logic. They say that since employers did this during The Great Recession, then it’s okay for them to do it, too.

And when they say it’s okay for them to do it, they mean there should be no consequences for them. No negative consequences, specifically. However, that is not how the world works, and it’s not how the world of employment works, especially in a small profession like the Veterinary profession. There are negative consequences for such behavior. If you work in the Veterinary profession and you “ghost” on a face-to-face interview, on an offer of employment, or your first day of work, then the person who witnessed you do it knows someone that you very well could meet down the road.

Joel: Stacy, we are just about out of time for today. Is there anything else that you would like to add before we end today’s podcast episode?

Stacy: Yes, I’d like to leave you with one more story today. This story emphasizes the fact that every interaction a person has with a potential new employer during the hiring process is an opportunity for branding—either positive personal branding or negative personal branding. If the organization has not made an offer of employment to you yet or you’re not officially an employee yet, then company officials are still trying to decide if you’re a good fit for the organization. In other words, they’re still assessing you.

I recently had a client call a candidate to extend an offer of employment, but they ended up not making the offer because the candidate was acting unprofessionally on the phone.

Joel: You mean they made the call to make the offer . . . but then didn’t make the offer?

Stacy: That’s right. This candidate was literally moments away from receiving an offer of employment, but something that they said or a way in which they acted caused the person on the other end of the line to reconsider.

Joel: So, what happened?

Stacy: The company official brought the matter to other people within the organization. They talked about it, and they eventually decided that the person they were going to make the offer to was no longer their top choice. In fact, they were no longer a candidate for the position.

Joel: Wow, that situation went downhill quickly!

Stacy: It did, and this is what can happen when you’re not professional 100% of the time or you’re too casual and unaware of how you’re coming across. Unprofessionalism and incivility are not things to be tolerated or accepted. They are things to be avoided if you want to advance and grow your Animal Health or Veterinary career.

Now, I understand there is a talent and a worker shortage, especially in the Veterinary profession. But as I’ve said before, there is a limit to the leverage that candidates have in the job market, even this job market. Even if there is a shortage of qualified candidates, employers can and do choose to walk away from one if they believe the person is not professional or would be a liability in some way after being hired.

Joel: Stacy, thank you so much for all of this great information. If a member of the listening audience wanted to reach out to you, what would be the best way to do that?

Stacy: There are multiple ways that someone can contact me. First and foremost, they can send me an email at or they can call The VET Recruiter office at (918) 488-3901. And of course, they can also visit The VET Recruiter website at There is a lot you can do there, including registering your profile and uploading your resume.

There is also a lot of other content on The VET Recruiter website, including a library of articles and blog posts. I encourage website visitors to sign up for our newsletter. We put our hottest jobs in the newsletter when we send it out each month, along with Animal Health and Veterinary career tips and hiring trends.

Last but certainly not least, I recommend that people connect with me on LinkedIn. You can also follow The VET Recruiter on a number of social media channels, including LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram.

Joel: Stacy, thank you so much for talking today about unprofessional behavior in the Animal Health industry and Veterinary profession. Once again, we invite everyone listening to visit And Stacy, as always, thank you for joining us.

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

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