Episode #40 – Case Studies That Will Change How You Think About Your Career

Sharita: Welcome to “The Animal Health Employment Insider,” brought to you by The VET Recruiter. In this podcast, search consultant Stacy Pursell, founder and CEO of The VET Recruiter, provides insight and practical advice for both companies and job seekers in the Animal Health industry and Veterinary profession. The VET Recruiter’s mission is to help Animal Health and Veterinary organizations acquire top talent, while helping professionals attain career-enhancing opportunities that increase their quality of life.

In today’s podcast, we’ll be talking about case studies that will change the way you think about your career. Welcome, Stacy. Thank you for joining us.

Stacy: Hello, Sharita. I’m glad to be here today.

Sharita: Stacy, we’re taking a bit of a different approach to today’s podcast. We’re going to discuss a few of the things that you’ve witnessed down through the years to illustrate how Animal Health professionals and Veterinary professionals should think about their career.

Stacy: That’s right, Sharita. As a recruiter for more than 20 years, I’ve seen quite a bit in the employment marketplace. The things that we talk about on this podcast and the things that I write about in The VET Recruiter newsletter and in my blog posts are all based on personal experience. I can talk and write about these things confidently because I’ve witnessed them firsthand. There’s no guesswork involved.

Sharita: And the case studies that we’re discussing today all have to do with job seekers or candidates?

Stacy: That’s correct. Unfortunately, I have seen many job seekers and candidates approach their employment situation and their career in the wrong way, and that approach has hurt them in some way professionally. I use these stories as cautionary tales, so that other people can be aware of the right way and the wrong way to do things.

Sharita: What are the themes for these case studies? What compelled you to choose these specific stories to talk about?

Stacy: Well, there are a few things which I absolutely believe when it comes to Animal Health and Veterinary professionals and the way they should view their career. I think we’ve touched upon most of these in the past.

First, I believe that job seekers and candidates should be proactive about their careers. This is the “dig your well before your thirsty” mentality that states the best time to look for a new job is when you already have a job. That’s one of the themes involved with these case studies.

Something else that I 100% believe is that you should always be open to opportunity. When I say that, I mean that you should always be open to at least considering an opportunity or hearing about the opportunity. Just because you hear about it doesn’t mean you have to take action. But there’s no reason to reject an opportunity without at least hearing about it. There’s no good reason, anyway.

And a third thing that I believe is that you should not be satisfied with the status quo or let fear control your decisions. Everybody is afraid of uncertainty to one extent or another. However, not everybody allows that fear to dictate the decisions they make. During my recruiting career, I’ve found that those Animal Health and Veterinary professionals who do not let fear control them are the ones who take advantage of more opportunities and enjoy more career advancement.

Sharita: Stacy, that all makes sense. I know that we’ve heard a few case studies here and there on our show before, but I’m looking forward to hearing the case studies that you have for us today.

Stacy: The first case studies that I have deal with being proactive. More accurately, they illustrate how not being proactive can hurt you. I want to point out that these are not isolated case studies. What I mean by that is situations like these have happened over and over again during my recruiting career.

Sharita: Is that because professionals often fall prey to the same mistakes?

Stacy: Yes, they do. And that’s one of the reasons I want to discuss these mistakes, so other job seekers and candidates avoid them.

Once upon a time, I contacted a candidate about a position, something that I do all the time. I did this, of course, because I thought that she would be a fit for the position. She did not answer my call or my email right away, so I left a message. Unfortunately, she did not get back to me right away. In fact, she did not respond to me until three weeks later.

Sharita: Why did it take her that long?

Stacy: When she got back to me, she said that her current job was going to be over at the end of the month. Apparently, something unexpected happened with her employer, and she was now out of luck. She remembered that I had contacted her three weeks earlier and was now inquiring about that position.

Sharita: What happened?

Stacy: Well, the problem was that position had already been filled.

Sharita: Ouch!

Stacy: That’s right. She would have been a good fit for the position, but now somebody else had it.

But some people wait even longer than three weeks to get back to me when I reach out. One time, somebody waited three years to return my call.

Sharita: Three years?

Stacy: Yes, I reached out a professional to see if he wanted to consider other opportunities, since I had some openings on my desk that would be a fit for him. Once again, he did not return my call or my email. But then, three years later, he contacted me out of the blue.

Sharita: Was it the same situation as the other person?

Stacy: It was. He had found out that he was losing his job. To his credit, he remembered that I had reached out to him years earlier, and he even saved my contact information. But ultimately, that didn’t do him any good. None of the positions I was working on at the time were a fit for him. So he was out of a job, and there was nothing I could do for him immediately.

But I have a case study that’s even more extreme than that one.

Sharita: Which one is that?

Stacy: I once had a candidate who called me asking for help after they had been unemployed for nine months. The people in the two stories we just discussed reached out to me when they discovered they were going to soon lose their job. So they were still employed. But this person waited until they actually lost their job, and then they waited another nine months.

Sharita: Why did that person wait so long?

Stacy: Well, he tried to conduct the job search all on his own, with no help. During the course of his job search, he sent his resume all over the place. Unfortunately, when he contacted me, he was expecting me to find him a job on the spot. However, that’s not how it works and that’s why people should “dig their well before they’re thirsty.” This person did not dig his well, and after nine months, he was very thirsty.

The people in the first case studies were no better off than this person, though. Being proactive does not mean reaching out to a recruiter as soon as you find out that you’re going to lose your job. Being proactive means working with a recruiter to find premium employment opportunities when you’re already employed. The people in these three case studies were all working from a position of weakness. When you do that, you have fewer options and less leverage. When you work from a position of strength, you have more options and more leverage. It really is as simple as that.

Sharita: What do you think was the rationale of the people in those case studies? Why did they do what they did?

Stacy: People mistakenly assume that they’re going to have their current job as long as they want to have it. They almost never entertain the thought that they might lose their job, especially unexpectedly. But if you think about it, the way that most people lose their job is unexpectedly. Nobody really expects it to happen. That underscores the importance of being proactive.

I also have a case study today about somebody who was unwilling to take a risk.

Sharita: Please tell us about that one.

Stacy: As a recruiter, I talk numerous people in a lot of different roles. A few years ago, I was speaking with a friend of mine at a tradeshow. At one time, this friend had operated a large organization, so he also had a lot of experience in the employment marketplace. He told me a story about somebody in the Animal Health industry who had been in the same role and doing the same thing year after year.

Well, this person was eventually given the chance to learn something else, to move to another area of the business. But he turned down that chance, which is something that he came to regret. That’s because he’s stuck in the same role with his employer, and the only work experience he has involves the role he’s had for years. In addition, the management at his company does not view him as a risk taker, so his value has become diminished. So this person feels as though he’s stuck, all because he turned down an opportunity and didn’t take a risk.

Sharita: So based on all the case studies and stories that we’ve talked about today, what is the correct way for professionals in the Animal Health industry and Veterinary profession to view their career? How should they think about it?

Stacy: Your career is like anything else that you value. You must put time into it, you must be proactive about making good things happen, and you can’t be afraid to take risks from time to time. Good things are not going to happen just because you want them to. You must put forth the effort and you absolutely must be open to considering opportunities when they are presented to you.

Sharita: Stacy, thanks so much for all of this great information today.

Stacy: Thank you, Sharita. I look forward to our next podcast!