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Using Veterinarian Recruiters to Hire and Grow Your Career

Veterinarian recruiters are quite possibly more in demand right now than they’ve ever been. And this might just be the “tip of the iceberg.” According to multiple sources, they could become even more in demand in the years ahead. In terms of a timeframe, we’re talking about through the end of this decade.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) deemed this so before the decade even began. That’s because the BLS predicted that veterinarian jobs were projected to grow by 17% between 2020 and 2030. The BLS revisits and updates these projections on an annual basis, typically twice a year, and the agency has stuck to its projection in the years since it initially made them.

One thing to keep in mind about the BLS prediction is that it involves strictly veterinarian jobs. These are jobs that involve are Doctors of Veterinary Medicine (DVM). Technician and assistant jobs are not included in the BLS projections.

The reason that these projections are so critical is that there is already a shortage of veterinarians within the profession. During the past several years, the National Unemployment Rate has been historically low, hovering between 3.5% and 4.0%. However, the unemployment rate in the Veterinary profession, and for veterinarians specifically, has been even lower.

Unfortunately, there is agency or organization that tracks the unemployment rate in the profession on an official basis, as is the case with the National Unemployment Rate. However, all of the estimates put forth during the past several years have included an extraordinarily low rate. For example, according to the job search site Zippia, since 2013, the unemployment rate in the Veterinary profession has decreased from 1.0% to 0.2%.

An unemployment rate of 0.2% is nearly non-existent, and once again keep in mind that this number is reflective of veterinarians or DVMs. It means that every veterinarian who needs a job has a job. So if that is currently the case and the BLS is projecting that the number of veterinarian jobs is going to increase by 17% during the years 2020 to 2030, it is almost guaranteed that the unemployment rate in the Veterinary profession will eventually go all the way down to zero. And it may be there already.

Veterinarian recruiters and the veterinarian shortage

Before exploring the veterinarian shortage more fully, it’s important to point out the critical role that veterinarian recruiters play within this dynamic. When the unemployment rate is as low as it is within the Veterinary profession, it means that it’s a candidates’ market. Such a market is marked by multiple characteristics, all of which are of interest to employers that are interested in hiring veterinarians. Those characteristics include the following:

  • There is a lack of qualified candidates as compared to the number of job openings available, as discussed above.
  • The candidates who do exist in the job market are usually passive candidates and not active job seekers. Since passive candidates are not actively looking for a new job, they’re not automatically interested in a particular position just because it exists.
  • Candidates hold the majority of the leverage in hiring situations, mainly because they have access to a lot of opportunities and many options. This is even more the case for the best candidates, who are typically defined as the top 5% to 10% of candidates in the job market.
  • Employers need candidates more than candidates need employers.

All of these factors are why employers need veterinarian recruiters to help them hire veterinarians. Simply posting online job advertisements is not going to yield the desirable results. This is commonly referred to as the “post and pray” method, and such a method does not work in a candidates’ market and it definitely does not work in a market like the one that currently exists in the Veterinary profession.

How veterinarian recruiters help employers

On the other hand, veterinarian recruiters can help employers throughout every step of the recruiting and hiring process:

#1—Identification of talent

Since there are more passive candidates than active job seekers, it’s not as easy to identify top talent in the marketplace. Veterinarian recruiters can help in this area. If they’re experienced and they have a track record of success, then they already have relationships with many top candidates. In fact, they may have placed them previously and have knowledge of their preferences and priorities.

#2—Engagement of talent

Since passive candidates are not looking at online job advertisements, they must be contacted about an employment opportunity. First and foremost, they must be made aware of the fact that the opportunity exists. This requires a proactive approach and not a passive one, but the good news is that veterinarian recruiters utilize a proactive approach on a daily basis to source talent and find candidates.

#3—Recruiting of talent

Once you’ve made the candidate aware of your employment opportunity, you must recruit them for said opportunity. This entails “selling” them on all aspects of the opportunity, as well as the organization itself. Company culture is very important to today’s candidates. Also, keep in mind that a top candidate will not make a lateral move. Not only that, but they will also not make a move for an opportunity that is only slightly better than their current job. They will only make a move if an opportunity is clearly better that what they have now.

#4—Hiring of talent

Once candidates are in the hiring process, it’s not a foregone conclusion that they’re going to stay in the process. Once again, they have access to a lot of opportunities and they have many options at their disposal. Veterinarian recruiters can help employers with this, as well, keeping candidates engaged throughout the process so that not only do they stay in it, but they also stay interested in both the opportunity and the organization.

#5—Onboarding of talent

Once a candidate is hired, you might be tempted to think that the process is over. Nothing could be further from the truth. That’s because the employer must still onboard the candidate successfully and help them transition into becoming an official employee. There are some candidates who accept an offer and then never show up for their first day of work. Either they accepted a counteroffer from their current employer or they accepted an offer from another employer at the last minute. Either way, the employer that made the initial offer has to start all over in its quest to find the right candidate.

As you can see, there is a lot that veterinarian recruiters can do to help employers hire top talent in today’s job market. The VET Recruiter has been helping organizations do just that for more than 20 years. As one of the most experienced and reputable Animal Health and Veterinary recruiting firms in the employment marketplace, we have a proven track record of success finding, engaging, and recruiting the best veterinarian candidates.

We invite you to check out our services for employers. You can also see all of the steps involved in our recruiting process.

The depths of the veterinarian shortage

In further exploring the current and future shortage of veterinarians within the profession, the BLS is projecting 4,400 job openings for veterinarians each year, on average, over the decade. In addition, approximately 1,450 of those represented brand-new positions. The remainder of these openings will be to replace workers who:

  • Transferred to different occupations
  • Exited the workforce (some through retirement, which we’ll address shortly).

It’s not as though the number of veterinarians in the job market is not increasing at all. That number is increasing. However, it’s not increasing anywhere near as much as the number of veterinarian job openings is increasing. According to a recent statement by the American Association of Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMA), the number of U.S. veterinarians has been increasing at a rate of only 2.7% each year.

The problem is that the number of job openings is increasing much more than 2.7% on an annual basis. Because of this, there have been more openings than qualified veterinarians to fill those openings on a yearly basis. According to the AAVMA, in 2019, there were 2,000 to 3,000 more job openings than veterinarians available to fill those openings.

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) is one of the leading organizations within the Veterinary profession. The AVMA recently released statistics regarding open positions in their Career Center, and the numbers are startling. According to the AVMA, between January of 2019 and May of 2021, there were 18 positions open for every veterinarian seeking a job. In addition, there were six positions for every technician and assistant and 12 for other Veterinary positions.

You might be asking yourself, “What about retirements? Surely there are veterinarians who retire every year. Doesn’t that help in terms of the veterinarian shortage?”

The short answer is that yes, of course it helps. The long answer, though, is that it does not help enough.

Let’s start with the good news. According to an article in Today’s Veterinary Business, approximately 2,000 people retire from the Veterinary profession every year. According to data from AAVMA, about 3,000 Veterinary students graduated in 2020. That’s an annual surplus of 1,000 graduates over retirees. That would theoretically be enough if there were only 1,000 job openings in the Veterinary profession every year. However, that is not the case.

As mentioned above, the BLS is projecting 4,400 job openings for veterinarians each year, on average, over the decade, with 1,400 of those representing brand-new positions. Based upon these numbers, we can surmise the following:

  • There are 3,000 existing open positions within the Veterinary profession during any given year.
  • There are projected to be 1,400 additional new job openings each and every year between 2020 and 2030.
  • Even though there is a surplus of 1,000 graduates over retirees every year, that surplus is not enough to fill the number of new job openings, much less the number of job openings overall.

It all adds up to a continuing (and worsening) shortage of veterinarians over the course of this decade and quite possibly into the next one. In short, if there are 44,000 open positions overall during the decade representing both new and existing positions and 30,000 new graduates, that still leaves more than 14,000 unfilled positions overall. Even if 400 of those positions were filled on an annual basis by unemployed veterinarians that no one can seem to find at the moment, it would still leave 1,000 opens positions each year. With that best-case scenario, there would still be 10,000 unfilled positions by the end of the decade.

The worst-case scenario is much different. According to a report released by Mars Veterinary Health in March of 2022, a shortage of nearly 15,000 veterinarians could exist by the year 2030. And if that happens, it would represent more than just a shortage; it would signify an emergency situation within the profession.

The VET Recruiter: your choice for veterinarian recruiters

The numbers regarding the current and future veterinarian shortage illustrate the importance of veterinary recruiters and the value they provide in the job market. In light of these statistics, it’s evident that there are tremendous obstacles for employers that are trying to recruit and hire veterinarians in this current market. As a result, employers need every advantage they can get, and one way to gain that advantage is by aligning themselves with a veterinary recruiting firm.

The VET Recruiter is the leading global executive search and recruitment firm specializing in Veterinary recruiting, among other areas. Our goal is to help employers hire top talent to help their business grow and become more profitable, while at the same time helping professionals attain career-enhancing opportunities that allow them to achieve the quality of life they seek.

Click here to see examples of The VET Recruiter’s placements. These are all examples of real positions that we have filled in the Animal Health industry and Veterinary profession.

We also invite you to contact us for more information regarding our recruiting process and how The VET Recruiter can help your organization identify, engage, and recruit the best talent in job market.

You can also call (918) 488-3901 or (800) 436-0490 or send an email to stacy@thevetrecruiter.com.

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