This post is sponsored by AVMA
Dr. Patricia Wohlferth-Bethke is an assistant director in AVMA’s Membership Division, where she is responsible for the management of veterinary career services and the AVMA Veterinary Career Center (VCC). Dr. Wohlferth-Bethke has spent the past eight years developing program resources and advising veterinarians and other veterinary professionals on the ins and outs of establishing, advancing and most of all thriving in a career in the veterinary profession. Dr. Wohlferth-Bethke sat down with us to discuss the resources available to veterinary professionals and how to ensure you land the job of your dreams.
What exactly is the VCC and what type of employment opportunities are available within the veterinary profession?
The VCC is a well-known, niche professional job board that offers veterinary career resources and opportunities in the US and around the world, and there are currently over 2,000 open opportunities listed on the VCC. The majority are clinical practice jobs in the US private sector. This includes every species for which veterinarians provide care. Other sectors represented on the job board are those in veterinary industry, academia, research, shelters, nonprofits and government (local, state and federal). There are also contract and relief work opportunities available. Anyone may search and apply for jobs, including veterinarians, veterinary students, veterinary technicians, hospital managers, practice managers, and customer service representatives; basically anyone qualified to work within the profession. Practice owners and other employers in the veterinary profession can post jobs, access information about job seekers registered on the site and access resources such as articles on how to write an effective job posting.
Besides the job board what other resources are available, and do you have to be an AVMA member to access them?
Most of the additional career resources are open to everyone. In addition to the most comprehensive listing of veterinary career opportunities, users will find advice on numerous topics, including creating the perfect resume, preparing for salary negotiations and how to market themselves, as well as tools for wellness, career transitions and career-related webinars presented by people in different areas of the profession.
What are some of the trends in the employment market you have noticed in the past few years?
During the height of the recession, the number of jobs available was low, and it was a very stressful time for our profession. With the economic recovery, veterinary practices and organizations now need to expand their staffing, and I am happy to say that the number of job opportunities is increasing. This is great news! That being said, economic downturns have occurred several times in my career, including the year I graduated, so I caution people to make wise economic decisions throughout their working lives to weather the ups and downs of the economy.
There is a definite seasonal pattern to job postings. Right after the first of the year, job postings go way up and then slowly taper until the end of the year. Interestingly, applications start to increase in November as veterinary students are starting their job search in preparation for graduation in the spring. Employers who can wait for graduation for a new staff member may benefit from getting their job posting up before the end of the year to start their recruitment of new grads early.
Do you have any advice for those just entering the profession? What are some of the biggest challenges they face?
After a lifetime of school for many new graduates, transitioning from student to a fully licensed and qualified professional is exciting but very stressful. There is a learning curve that everyone goes through when they enter their first job. Trusting the education that was received and having an understanding employer help new veterinarians navigate this transition. Time passes quickly and as confidence builds, the work becomes more like what everyone dreamed it would be.
Some suggestions I have for everyone are: Learn from every experience and develop ways to cope with the bad ones. Seek help when needed, and check out the AVMA wellness resources for help dealing with the stresses of the profession. Be a lifetime learner. Get involved in your community. Review or reassess your career goals periodically, and keep working toward achieving them. Keep your resume up to date just in case. Embrace and welcome change, and always keep your eyes open to recognize opportunities when they come your way. Make a change when needed, sometimes sooner than later. Develop a budget and stick to it, it helps pay off debt and saving for retirement, it’s truly never too early.
What can veterinary professionals do when looking to transition into a new specialty or make a significant employment change?
The AVMA has an excellent Veterinary Career Transition resource for help with transition at any time in a career. This resource includes career transition tools developed and provided by the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine Center for Public and Corporate Veterinary Medicine. These tools help users assess next career step. Ideally, veterinary professionals should be planning possible next steps well in advance and gathering the needed skills and information to make a change. It may take some time to get to the point that a change is possible, but recognizing an opportunity when it appears will sometimes afford a chance for a quick change, and this possibility should always be explored. The veterinary degree and the skills veterinarians have acquired can translate to many different jobs and careers. The task is to establish a goal and determine how to apply veterinary skills to meet that goal. Everyone is different, and while people can help, it is ultimately up to each individual to decide what they want to do and then plan how to do it.
As the technology advances, so does the way people look for jobs and the way employers recruit for jobs. What can we expect from the VCC in the future?
Watch for information about a virtual career fair in 2017. This event will allow employers to “talk” to interested candidates without having to travel to a live event, an economical tool for starting the searching and hiring process.
Building on the job-search capabilities of the VCC, career information targeted for different audiences such as pre-veterinary, student, early career, practice owners and managers all the way to retirement will be brought together in one place, making it a comprehensive career resource center. The vision is to have fresh and relevant material in different formats that will deliver career information in ways that will suit a variety of communication styles.