Episode #46 – The Job Opportunities That Exist Within Veterinary Practice

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 Companies and Veterinary Businesses acquire top talent, while helping Animal Health and Veterinary Professionals attain career-enhancing opportunities that increase their quality of life.

In today’s podcast, we’ll be talking about the state of the Veterinary profession, specifically the job opportunities that are available. Welcome, Stacy. Thank you for joining us.

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

Sharita: Stacy, as a recruiter, you work in both the Animal Health Industry and Veterinary Profession, is that correct?

Stacy: Yes, that is correct.

Sharita: Can you talk about the differences between the two?

Stacy: Certainly. The Animal Health Industry can be defined as companies who offer products and services that are sold to veterinary practices.  These can include pharmaceutical companies, pet food companies, companies that sell capital equipment; for example diagnostic equipment.  Service companies can include companies that sell insurance or wellness plans for example. Then the Veterinary profession is separate from those.

The Veterinary Profession is the veterinary practices themselves which can be privately or corporately owned. Veterinary profession positions are mainly jobs in Veterinary practices. In other words, these are employment opportunities that are with a specific Veterinary practice. Animal Health jobs, on the other hand, are jobs that are “in industry.” That means they’re not jobs with a specific Veterinary practice, but they’re Animal Health-related jobs in the broader employment marketplace. Professionals who work in these jobs don’t work in a practice, but they work for an organization or a company that sells to veterinary practices like I mentioned before which can include pet food companies, pharmaceutical companies or companies in general that sell products or services to veterinarians. These can also include Animal Health Distribution companies.

Sharita: So today, we’re going to focus on the state of the Veterinary profession, is that correct?

Stacy: Yes, that’s right. Today, we are going to focus on those professionals who are working within Veterinary practice. That’s because there are numerous opportunities that exist within veterinary practice right now. I want to make our listeners aware of those opportunities and I want to discuss the future of the profession, as well.

Stacy: Ironically enough, I want to start in the future. Specifically, I want to start with a statistic from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. According to the BLS, Veterinary job openings are set to increase by almost 18 percent through 2026. Not only that, but job openings for Veterinary technicians are set to increase by 20 percent.

Sharita: Wow, those are some eye-opening numbers! Stacy, you work “in the trenches” day in and day out. Is what you’re seeing lead you to believe that these numbers are likely to be correct?

Stacy: Yes, I can attest to the fact that everything I’m seeing in the marketplace supports those statistics and projections for the future. I see evidence of that on an almost daily basis. For example, I’ve talked with candidates and other recruiters in our office have talked with new graduate veterinarians and veterinarians with two years and less of experience who are expecting $100K to $130K in base compensation.

Sharita: They only have two years of experience and they’re expecting that much?

Stacy: Yes, but the interesting part is that they’re actually receiving offers in that range! I even have a specific example for you. We just had a candidate with two years of experience receive three job offers. One of them included a $130K base salary, one had close to a $130K base salary, and third offered a $100K base salary but with a $130K guarantee.

This should tell you something about what’s happening in the Veterinary profession, especially within clinical practice. The fact of the matter is that employers can not find the candidates they need to hire. There are just not enough candidates with the right skills and experience in the marketplace right now. In fact, it’s even reached the point where recent graduates are commanding larger starting salaries.

Sharita: Really?

Stacy: Yes, and I have another example to illustrate that. We recently interviewed a brand-new graduate with no experience. That graduate was expecting a base salary of 120K for their first job. Shortly after speaking with this person, we already had a client that wanted to interview her.

Sharita: So this person might earn $120K right out of school?

Stacy: That’s right. It may seem like that’s a lot to ask for, but it’s really not if market conditions exist that make it possible. When you think about it, it’s basically the law of supply and demand. If something is in demand and that something is scarce, then it becomes more valuable. Right now, skilled candidates in the Veterinary profession, especially clinical practice, are in demand. However, they’re scare, which makes them more valuable.

Sharita: They’re so scarce and so valuable that we have some newly graduating veterinarians who are expecting a $120K starting salary right out of school?

Stacy: That’s exactly right.

Sharita: Stacy, I’m guessing that everything we’re talking about today has to do with the skills gap and the candidates’ market, topics that we’ve discussed on previous podcasts, is that correct?

Stacy: Yes, that’s right. And what I want to emphasize is that these conditions are expected to continue for quite some time. According to the BLS statistics I quoted at the top of the podcast, they could continue for up to eight more years.

Sharita: Stacy, we’ve talked a lot about what employers should be doing in market conditions such as these. But today, I understand that you want to address what candidates should be doing.

Stacy: Yes, I’d like to talk about how job seekers and candidates should view the marketplace and what their outlook should be.

First, Veterinary professionals should recognize the fact that they have leverage in the marketplace right now. This is especially the case for those professionals who have highly specialized skills and/or experience. As you might imagine, leverage is a good thing to have. As we discussed in our earlier podcast on salary negotiation, when you have leverage, you have the ability to directly influence the final outcome of a situation. In this case, Veterinary professionals have the ability to directly influence their employment situation to some degree.

Second, Veterinary professionals should set a goal of strategically using their leverage. This is where career planning and development are so important. If you have leverage and you have opportunities and options, then all of that should be part of the plan you have for your career. If the BLS expects there to be plenty of opportunities in the Veterinary profession for the next eight years, then you should think about what you want to do during those eight years. How can you make the most of them?

Third, Veterinary professionals should not misuse or abuse their leverage.

Sharita: What do you mean by that?

Stacy: While it’s a good thing to have leverage in a situation, sometimes people fall prey to the temptation to use that leverage in ways they should not. If a candidate knows they have leverage and there’s a shortage of people who have the skills and experience that they possess in the marketplace, they might be tempted to do things they should not do.

Sharita: Things like what? Can you give some examples?

Stacy: I certainly can. These things include being late to a face-to-face interview, not showing up for a face-to-face interview, and saying that you will give an answer regarding an employer’s offer within a specified period of time and then completely disappearing.

Sharita: Candidates actually do that?

Stacy: They do. It’s called “ghosting” on the offer. Candidates even accept an offer of employment and then don’t show up for their first day of work . . . or any day after that. I once had to call a candidate’s father to check on her whereabouts because I thought she had been in an accident. Not only did she not show up for her first day of work, but she also didn’t respond to any of my texts, emails, or phone calls. I was glad she was okay, but obviously, my client was not pleased.

While there are plenty of opportunities in the Veterinary profession, it is not a huge industry. A lot of people, including hiring managers and company officials, know each other. When you abuse the leverage that you have as a candidate, you run the risk of branding yourself in a negative fashion and “burning bridges.” And you never know when “burning a bridge” can have dire consequences down the road.

Sharita: What else should job seekers and candidates be doing?

Stacy: They need to make sure that they’re aware of the opportunities that exist and they need to make sure that they’re in a position to take advantage of those opportunities.

Sharita: How can they do that?

Stacy: Well, there are two main ways. They could try to do it themselves or they could align themselves with an experienced recruiter. Now, I’m not saying that a candidate can’t do it themselves, but it’s more difficult to do it effectively that way. One of the reasons is no matter what kind of leverage a candidate might have, they can’t apply for a job if they don’t know that the job exists. Many times, an organization will look for candidates in a confidential fashion because they don’t want their competition to know what they’re doing or they need to replace an underperforming employee or because they simply do not have time to conduct their own search.

Sharita: And they often hire a recruiter for a search like that.

Stacy: Yes, that’s right. That’s why I recommend working with a recruiter to maximize the opportunities that exist in the marketplace. And of course, I also recommend being open to opportunity when that opportunity is presented to you. I can’t tell you how many candidates I talk with who dismiss an opportunity before they even know what it is. That kind of outlook is counter-productive at best and it could do harm to one’s career.

Sharita: Yes, if there’s so much opportunity in the Veterinary profession these days, it almost seems crazy to not want to at least hear about what’s out there.

Stacy: That’s exactly right! This is an exciting time to be in the Veterinary profession. Veterinary professionals should recognize that and position themselves to take full advantage of it, now and in the years to come.

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

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