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Episode #290 – The Importance of Core Values in Your Animal Health or Veterinary Career

The Vet Recruiter®
The Vet Recruiter®
Episode #290 - The Importance of Core Values in Your Animal Health or Veterinary Career

Caleb: 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 the importance of core values in a person’s Animal Health or Veterinary career. Hello, Stacy, and thank you for joining us today.

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

Caleb: Stacy, we’ve been discussing core values quite a bit during the past several weeks. What will we be discussing today?

Stacy: Yes, we have. In fact, we’ve discussed 13 core values. They are integrity, reliability, candor, enthusiasm, perseverance, coachability, urgency, active listening, hard work, teamwork, a “win-win” mindset, results, and optimism. It so happens that these are also the core values of The VET Recruiter, which is the executive recruiting firm that I founded more than 20 years ago.

I’ve addressed the importance of core values from the employer’s perspective before on the podcast. I believe that was episode #64, which is titled “The Key Role that Core Values Play in Hiring Top Talent.” Today, I want to wrap up our series on core values by emphasizing their importance in a person’s Animal Health or Veterinary career. Unfortunately, I believe they are often overlooked or neglected.

Caleb: How is that?

Stacy: Some people don’t think about them much, if at all. I would be willing to bet that there are professionals in the job market right now who don’t even have core values. At the very least, they have not identified them. And if you don’t identify your core values, as we’ve done during these past several weeks, then it will be more difficult to live them out, including in your professional life.

Caleb: Stacy, allow me to play “devil’s advocate” for just a minute. As we’ve discussed before on the podcast, the job market right now is tilted in the favor of job seekers and candidates, especially within the Veterinary profession. Because of this, there might be some members of our listening audience who don’t think they need core values. They believe they can get any job they want at any time and their core values won’t have any impact. What would you say to that?

Stacy: I would say there is a difference between simply getting a job and building a truly satisfying Animal Health or Veterinary career. Having core values and identifying them puts you in a position to maximize your career, and you must remember that maximizing your career is not all about money. Sure, top candidates are commanding a lot of money in the Animal Health industry and Veterinary profession right now. However, building a satisfying career also includes working with employers that share the same core values that you do.

Doing meaningful work and building a satisfying career involves making sure that you’re working for the right organizations, those employers that are the best fit possible for you.

Caleb: That makes sense. Where would you like to start with today’s discussion?

Stacy: I’d like to start with how a person can identify their core values. Although I’m sure most people know this, but your core values are the things that you value the most, both in your personal life and professional life. These aren’t physical things, per say, but more like the concepts that we’ve been discussing these past several weeks.

And because you believe that these things are important, they serve as guidelines. They determine how you act, how you respond, and what decisions you make throughout your life. And of course, this includes a person’s Animal Health or Veterinary career.

Caleb: Basically, it’s the process of discovering and identifying what is most important to you, is that right?

Stacy: Yes, that’s correct. And when you know what is most important, you have more focus, you can make decisions more quickly, and you can position yourself for more success in a shorter amount of time.

Caleb: So how does a person identify their core values?

Stacy: The first step is asking yourself a couple of questions. First, when were you the most happy in your Animal Health or Veterinary career? What were you doing? What were the factors that contributed to your happiness and success? Also, when were the times that you were the most satisfied and fulfilled in your career? Perhaps these times overlap the times when you were the most happy.

The things that bring a person happiness and fulfillment, including within the professional realm, form the basis of that person’s core values.

Caleb: What’s the next step?

Stacy: The next step is to write down your values, or what you think your values are. Just by taking this step, you’re already ahead of some professionals in the employment marketplace.

Caleb: Is that because they haven’t even taken the time to write down their values?

Stacy: Yes, that’s right. You would be surprised by how many people don’t seriously consider what is most important to them. They don’t identify their core values and they don’t write them down.

After writing down your values, it’s important to group them into categories, if there are enough of them. Remember that we went through 13 core values with The VET Recruiter. Figure out which core values belong with each other. You may not have 13, but you might have as many as eight or nine.

Caleb: How many core values should a person have?

Stacy: That’s a great question, and it really is up to each person to determine how many they should have. However, anywhere from five to 10 is a good frame of reference.

Caleb: What’s the danger of having too few core values?

Stacy: If you only have two or three, then you’re limiting yourself in a few ways. First, while you may believe very strongly in those two or three core values, there’s a good chance that you care about more than just those few. And remember, not all core values are created equal, which I’m going to discuss more in depth in just a few minutes.

And second, core values come in handy throughout your Animal Health or Veterinary career, including when you’re growing your career by pursuing other employment opportunities.

Caleb: Why is that the case?

Stacy: When a person is pursuing other employment opportunities, they’re looking for a match, and they’re doing so in multiple areas. One of those areas is core values. Ideally, the core values of their potential new employer should match their own personal core values, or come very close to matching.

If you work for an organization that does not hold to the same core values that you do, then it can turn into a negative employment situation. And that can be the case no matter how much money the organization is paying you for your services.

Caleb: So is there a danger in having too many core values?

Stacy: Yes, there is. When you have too many core values, such as 20 or more, then you’re not focused enough. And when you’re trying to match your core values to those of a potential new employer, that employer is bound to not have core values that you have.

Caleb: Because you have so many?

Stacy: That’s right.

Let’s say a person has 20 core values, and they’re interviewing with an employer that only has eight core values. For the person to feel good about working for that organization, those eight values will probably have to be included among their 20. If not, they might not feel as though the opportunity and the employer are a match for them.

Caleb: Even if it might be a match.

Stacy: Correct. There is more that goes into it, of course, and that includes the interviewing stage of the hiring process. Before you interview with a potential new employer, it’s a good idea to do some research. Check out the organization’s website and its social media channels. There’s a good chance that its website will have a page specifically devoted to its core values. In fact, in this day and age, it would be unusual for a company to NOT have a page of their website devoted to values.

After seeing how the organization’s core values match up to yours, be prepared to ask questions about its values during the interview. Ask the people interviewing you how the company lives out its values and what those values mean to them. Remember, you’re interviewing the employer just as much as the employer is interviewing you. The interview process is definitely not a one-way street.

Caleb: Especially in this job market and especially in the Veterinary profession. Candidates have the leverage these days, don’t they?

Stacy: Yes, they hold a tremendous amount of leverage, so it’s definitely acceptable to ask questions about the employer’s core values during the interview and at other times during the hiring process.

Caleb: What our tips do you have in terms of a person’s core values?

Stacy: I would recommend sharing your values with someone whom you trust. This person could be part of your personal life or your professional life. It could be with a coworker or colleague or it could be with your spouse or partner. The key is to share your values with someone whose opinion you respect. They might have some constructive feedback that will allow you to fine-tune or tweak what you’ve already created and they could also add something that you might not have thought of.

Also, after you’ve created and finalized your core values, do your best to memorize them and know them by heart. You may have to reference them at a moment’s notice, such as during a job interview. With that in mind, also make them accessible while you’re on the job, whether you work in the office or from home. For example, you could have them on your smartphone.

Caleb: Right! People carry their smartphone with them wherever they go.

Stacy: Exactly. However, you can also do something more elaborate, like create a printout of your values and tape them up somewhere. It’s up to you how creative you want to be. The main thing is to create your core values and know them thoroughly. As we mentioned earlier, I know some people might be tempted to dismiss this topic. They may think that having core values is overrated and that they don’t really need to have them, or at the very least, they don’t need to identify them and write them out.

From personal experience, though, I can say that taking the time to do so is well worth it. It’s worth it for you personally, and it’s worth it for your Animal Health or Veterinary career. Look at it as an investment. By identifying your core values, you’re making an investment in yourself and in your career.

Caleb: Stacy, we’re just about out of time, so is there anything else that you’d like to add before we wrap up today’s podcast episode?

Stacy: Yes, I’d like to address the younger members of our listening audience, including Veterinary students and those who have just graduated and entered the workforce. Although a person can identify their core values at any point during their Animal Health or Veterinary career, it’s more beneficial to do so earlier in your career. Ideally, you should identify them before you graduate.

Caleb: Really?

Stacy: Yes, and I’ll tell you why. Veterinary students are receiving offers of employment before they even graduate. In fact, they’re interviewing with multiple employers, and in some cases, they’re receiving multiple offers. Once again, this is a product of the current job market and hiring environment. There is a shortage of veterinarians, so organizations are targeting Veterinary students in their quest to fill critical positions.

Caleb: So those students have to be ready to interview, and part of the interview process is figuring out if their core values match the core values of the employers interviewing them.

Stacy: That’s exactly right, and if you haven’t identified your core values, then it’s going to be more difficult to determine if a particular employer is the right employer for you. And the last thing you want to do is get your Animal Health or Veterinary career off on the wrong foot. Instead, you want to get a strong start by maximizing the leverage that you have in this job market and landing an exciting job with a great employer that is a match for you in every way—including when it comes to your core values.

Caleb: Stacy, thank you so much for joining us today and for all of this great information about the importance of core values in a person’s Animal Health or Veterinary career.

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

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