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Episode #333 – Combatting ‘Career Drift’ in a Person’s Animal Health or Veterinary Career

The Vet Recruiter®
The Vet Recruiter®
Episode #333 - Combatting ‘Career Drift’ in a Person’s 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 “career drift” in a person’s Animal Health or Veterinary career. Welcome, Stacy, and thank you for joining us today.

Stacy: Hello, Caleb. As always, I am glad to be here with you today.

Caleb: So, to kick things off, could you explain to our listeners what exactly “career drift” is and why it is such a prevalent issue?

Stacy: Of course. “Career drift,” simply put, is the gradual veering off course from one’s intended career path. It is characterized by a lack of purposeful direction, disengagement, and a sense of aimlessness. It is particularly problematic because many professionals may not even realize they’re “drifting” until it’s too late, and they’ve already wasted valuable time that could have been spent advancing their careers.

Caleb: That is certainly concerning. So, what are some common signs that someone might be experiencing “drift” in their Animal Health or Veterinary career?

Stacy: Well, there are a few key indicators to watch out for. First, a lack of enthusiasm or passion for your work can be a “red flag.” If you find yourself going through the motions without feeling genuinely excited about your career, it could be a sign that you’re “drifting.” In addition, feeling stuck or stagnant in your current role or constantly questioning whether you’re on the right path, are also warning signs to pay attention to.

Caleb: Those are definitely important signals to be aware of. Now, let’s shift gears a bit and talk about how professionals in the Animal Health industry and Veterinary profession can prevent “career drift.” You’ve outlined five strategies for our listeners. Could you walk us through them?

Stacy: Absolutely. The first strategy is to establish clear goals. This involves defining both short-term and long-term career objectives that align with your passions, values, and aspirations. Regularly reassessing and refining these goals ensures that they remain relevant and meaningful as you progress in your Animal Health or Veterinary career.

Caleb: That makes sense. Setting clear goals provides a sense of direction and purpose. What’s the next strategy on your list?

Stacy: The second strategy is cultivating self-awareness. This entails reflecting on your strengths, weaknesses, interests, and values to gain insight into your professional identity. By understanding yourself better, you can identify areas for development and leverage your strengths to pursue opportunities that align with your authentic self.

Caleb: Self-awareness is key to making informed decisions about our careers. What’s next?

Stacy: The third strategy is maintaining a growth mindset. This involves embracing challenges as opportunities for learning and growth. By adopting a mindset that values resilience, adaptability, and continuous improvement, you can navigate setbacks and obstacles with optimism and determination.

Caleb: Absolutely, having a growth mindset can help us bounce back from setbacks stronger than ever. What’s the fourth strategy on your list?

Stacy: The fourth strategy is seeking mentorship and guidance. Surrounding yourself with mentors, coaches, or trusted advisors who can provide support and perspective on your career journey is very valuable. Learning from their experiences and wisdom can help you navigate challenges more effectively and make informed decisions about your Animal Health or Veterinary career.

Caleb: That makes sense. Mentorship can provide valuable insights and guidance. And finally, what’s the fifth strategy?

Stacy: The fifth and final strategy is investing in skill development. Staying abreast of industry trends, technological advancements, and emerging skills relevant to your field is critical for remaining competitive and adaptable in the job market. Continuously investing in learning and skill development ensures that you’re equipped to thrive in your Animal Health or Veterinary career.

Caleb: Stacy, we just discussed how to prevent “career drift.” However, what if someone is not able to prevent it. In other words, how can they identify if they are currently experiencing “career drift”?

Stacy: Identifying “career drift” requires a combination of introspection, observation, and honest self-assessment. There are several indicators that professionals can look out for, which may suggest that they’re “drifting” off course in their careers. I have identified six key signs that individuals should pay attention to.

Caleb: Let’s break them down one by one. The first indicator you mentioned is lack of passion or engagement. Can you elaborate on that?

Stacy: Absolutely. Feeling uninspired, disengaged, or apathetic towards your work is a clear indication of “career drift.” If you find yourself going through the motions without experiencing any sense of fulfillment or joy, it’s essential to reflect on whether your current role aligns with your passions and interests.

Caleb: That makes sense. So, what about the second indicator: ambivalence towards your goals?

Stacy: Ambivalence towards your career goals can manifest in various ways, such as having vague or constantly shifting goals that make it challenging to pursue a clear path forward. If you find yourself unsure of what you want to achieve or lacking direction in your professional aspirations, it may be a sign that you’re “drifting” off course.

Caleb: That is something many of our listeners might relate to. Moving on to the third indicator: stagnation or plateauing. What should professionals be aware of in this regard?

Stacy: Stagnation or plateauing occurs when individuals notice a lack of progress or growth in the trajectory of their Animal Health or Veterinary career. If you feel like you are stuck in a rut with few opportunities for advancement or development, it’s essential to reassess whether your current role is helping you reach your full potential.

Caleb: That is definitely a “red flag” to watch out for. Now, let us talk about the fourth indicator: dissonance with values. What does that mean, exactly, and how can professionals recognize when their values do not match those of their employer?

Stacy: Dissonance with values can lead to feelings of moral or ethical conflict, especially if your beliefs do not align with the culture or practices of your workplace. If you find yourself constantly at odds with the values upheld by your organization or the broader industry, then it is important to evaluate whether staying in that environment is conducive to your well-being and professional growth.

Caleb: It is essential to feel aligned with the values of your workplace. Moving on to the fifth indicator: chronic stress or burnout. How can professionals differentiate between everyday stress and burnout?

Stacy: Chronic stress or burnout goes beyond the normal challenges of the job and can have a significant impact on your physical, emotional, and mental well-being. If you experience persistent feelings of stress, anxiety, or exhaustion that interfere with your ability to function effectively, it is critical to address the underlying causes and seek support if needed.

Caleb: Absolutely. Recognizing the signs of burnout early on is essential for maintaining overall well-being. Finally, let us discuss the sixth indicator: external validation as the primary motivator. What does this entail?

Stacy: Relying excessively on external recognition, validation, or rewards to derive satisfaction or motivation from your work is a telltale sign of “career drift.” If you find yourself seeking validation from others rather than deriving intrinsic fulfillment from your accomplishments, it is essential to reevaluate your priorities and what truly matters to you professionally.

Caleb: Okay, so we have discussed how to prevent “career drift” and how to identify it if you’re not able to prevent it. Now, how does a person go about addressing it if they know that they are “drifting”?

Stacy: That is a great question. I have outlined six more strategies that individuals can utilize to navigate and address “career drift” effectively. The first step is to reflect on core values and priorities. By reconnecting with what truly matters to you in your Animal Health or Veterinary career, you can gain clarity on where you want to go and what steps you need to take to get there.

Caleb: That sounds like a foundational step. What comes next?

Stacy: Setting S.M.A.R.T. goals is also important. These are goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Breaking down larger objectives into smaller, actionable steps can make them more manageable and increase your chances of success.

Caleb: Absolutely, having a roadmap is essential. What is next on our list?

Stacy: Exploring alternative career paths, industries, or roles can also offer new perspectives and opportunities for growth. Whether it is through lateral moves, skill transitions, or entrepreneurial ventures, considering different options can help individuals find a path that aligns better with their interests and values.

The fourth step is seeking feedback and support, which we briefly discussed earlier in today’s podcast episode. Soliciting feedback from colleagues, mentors, or trusted advisors can provide valuable insights and perspectives that may not be apparent to you. Leveraging their guidance can help you identify areas for improvement and opportunities for development.

Caleb: That also makes sense. What is next on our list?

Stacy: The fifth step is engaging in continuous learning. Investing in ongoing skill development is essential for staying competitive and adaptable. Pursuing formal education, certifications, or professional development opportunities can enhance your capabilities and open up new career possibilities.

Caleb: And we have reached the sixth step! What might it be?

Stacy: Our sixth and final step is cultivating resilience and adaptability. This is key to navigating the inevitable challenges and changes that will come in a person’s Animal Health or Veterinary career. Embracing uncertainty and developing resilience can help individuals navigate setbacks and transitions with confidence and grace.

Caleb: That is another great point, Stacy, and before we wrap up today’s discussion, I’d like to include one of your favorite topics. How can building a relationship with a recruiter or search consultant help a person avoid “career drift” in the first place?

Stacy: Building a relationship with a recruiter can be incredibly beneficial for Animal Health and Veterinary professionals in several ways. Working with a recruiter can provide professionals with valuable support and guidance to navigate their career paths more effectively. In fact, I have five ways in which a recruiter can help professionals to avoid “career drift.”

Caleb: Great! What are they?

Stacy: The first way, and perhaps the most important, is access to hidden opportunities.

Caleb: Are you talking about the “hidden job market”?

Stacy: Yes. Recruiters often have access to job opportunities that are not advertised publicly. By being on a recruiter’s  radar, professionals can gain access to these hidden opportunities that may align perfectly with their skills, interests, and career goals. This can help them avoid settling for roles that don’t fulfill their potential and keep their career on track.

Caleb: That’s a significant advantage. What are some other ways in which recruiters can support professionals in avoiding “career drift”?

Stacy: Another way is career guidance. Recruiters take the time to understand the unique strengths, preferences, and aspirations of the candidates they place. Whether it’s identifying the next step in their career path or exploring new opportunities for growth, a recruiter can offer valuable insights and support to help professionals make informed decisions.

A third way that a recruiter can help a person avoid “career drift” is through market intelligence.

Caleb: What do you mean by that?

Stacy: I mean insight into what is happening within the job market and/or within the profession. Staying updated on insights and trends is critical for success in a person’s Animal Health or Veterinary career.

Recruiters have a deep understanding of the industry landscape and can provide professionals with valuable insights into emerging trends, in-demand skills, and market dynamics. This knowledge can help professionals make strategic career decisions and “stay ahead of the curve” in their field.

Caleb: What is another way that recruiters can help?

Stacy: A recruiter can also help professionals identify and pursue professional development opportunities that align with their career goals. Whether it is attending conferences, obtaining certifications, or participating in specialized training programs, a recruiter can suggest resources and opportunities for enhancing a person’s skills and knowledge. Investing in continuous learning and development is key to staying competitive and advancing in the Animal Health industry and Veterinary profession.

Caleb: Those are some excellent points, Stacy. It is clear that working with a recruiter can provide professionals with valuable support and guidance to navigate their career paths effectively. Do you have any more advice about working with a recruiter or about avoiding “career drift”?

Stacy: My advice, once again, is to be proactive and strategic about managing your career. Take the time to reflect on your strengths, interests, and career goals, and do not hesitate to seek support and guidance from people you trust. Building a strong relationship with a recruiter can provide you with valuable insights, opportunities, and support to navigate your career path with confidence and purpose. Remember, your Animal Health or Veterinary career is a journey, and investing in it wisely can lead to fulfilling and rewarding experiences.

Caleb: That’s a reassuring perspective, Stacy. Taking a proactive approach to professional development can certainly pay dividends in the long run. I know we’ve touched upon it before in the podcast, but before we run out of time, can you briefly discuss why it’s so important to be proactive?

Stacy: Certainly. There are multiple reasons why being proactive is important. First, when you’re proactive, you take initiative, and when you take initiative, you demonstrate to employers your commitment and ambition, which can lead to recognition and advancement opportunities.

 Second, being proactive fosters continuous learning and development, which we’ve already discussed. In today’s job market, staying stagnant is the same as falling behind. This not only enhances your value to your current employer, but it can open doors to new career paths and opportunities.

Third, being proactive cultivates resilience, which we’ve also touched upon today. Proactive individuals don’t dwell on failures, but instead focus on finding solutions. They approach challenges with a problem-solving mindset, turning setbacks into learning experiences and opportunities for growth. This resilience enables you to overcome adversity, and it also builds confidence and credibility, which can help you earn the trust of colleagues and superiors.

Caleb: Stacy, aren’t proactive people more likely to be leaders, either within their organization, within their chosen field, or both?

Stacy: Excellent question, and yes, proactive people are more likely to be leaders. By taking ownership of their responsibilities and demonstrating initiative, they inspire others to do the same. Their proactive approach sets a positive example for their peers and creates a culture of accountability and innovation within their organization. As a result, they are often entrusted with leadership roles and given greater responsibilities, further propelling their career growth.

Caleb: Stacy, we’re out of time for today, but thank you so much for joining us and for all of this great information about “career drift” 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!

Caleb: Before we go, if you are an employer in the animal health industry or veterinary profession,  needing to hire top talent be sure to reach out to The VET Recruiter. If you are a veterinarian or a professional working in the Animal Health industry be sure to check out the hot Animal Health jobs and veterinarian jobs on The VET Recruiter website.  Well, thanks for joining and we will be back next week.

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