Keep Your Employment Options Open

You never know when that dream job will become available.
By Katherine Dobbs, RVT, CVPM, PHR

It’s nearly impossible to know when you might want to consider changing jobs, unless you are making the decision—and then it depends on how impulsive you might be. Regardless, it is important to stay ready to launch into finding a new job whenever needed. In future columns, I will discuss some circumstances that might influence your decision to stay or leave your current employer. For now, let’s presume you are ready to look or you are at least keeping your options open. Here are issues and actions to consider:


A.    Keep your eyes open. Even if you are “happily married” to your current job, remain observant about job openings in your profession and region. Stay in touch with your state or provincial VMA at a minimum. If you are a veterinary technician, also continually review the classifieds for your technician association. By doing so you will not only be one of the first to spot a great opportunity for advancement, but you’ll also get and keep a feel for the supply and demand for employees. For instance, if you notice a continued or sudden increase in practices looking for credentialed technicians, you’ll know that the demand is high and supply may be low, so you could ask your current employer for a more competitive wage and/or benefits, knowing that it will not be as easy to replace you if you decide to leave. Pay particular attention to any wage and/or benefits mentioned in the classifieds you review.


B.     Network with Colleagues. People will talk about what they like and don’t like, and the same is true about their profession and position. Networking is one of the best ways to find out which employers are favored, and which employers would not be a good match for you. Wage is more likely to be discussed among colleagues in your tight circle, but do be professional. Be sure that if you hear a dollar amount, you also know how much experience, education and seniority that person has; do not assume you would or could make the same amount based on your own qualifications.


C.     Don’t Wait Until You’re Unemployed. Perhaps the biggest mistake is to wait until you do not have a job to go find a job. Even while you’re happily employed, it is recommended that you at least inquire about opportunities you see open up in your region or the region you would like to relocate to. On the flip side, it’s good advice to the managers out there to continually review resumes and conduct basic first interviews to keep options open for that sudden loss of an employee.


D.    Keep Resume Updated. What typically happens is you land with an employer, perhaps for many, many years, and then when it’s time to dust off your resume you find it sorely lacking in recent, current, qualifications and information. To avoid this mad rush to get it ready when you find an opportunity you want to explore, review your resume at least annually and update it to include your current position and accomplishments. Focus on the most recent skills and knowledge you have acquired over the past year. This will make the mad rush to send out your resume a little less daunting.


E.     Always Include a Cover Letter. The importance of a cover letter cannot be stressed enough. Most employers will keep resumes that have a cover letter at the top of their stack, and some employers will not even consider a candidate who has not provided a cover letter. Make sure to personalize it to the company to which you are applying, and do NOT mistakenly send out a letter addressed to a different organization (who you wrote to two years ago when you were looking for a job). It may sound silly, but it does happen more often than you think. When you are writing your cover letter, take some time to explore the practice website. If they don’t have a website, consider dropping in and taking a look around, and ask who you should address a resume to in the practice. Grab a brochure or any other literature about the practice. By the way, if they do not have a website in this day and age, it might be an indication that this practice’s leadership is not tech savvy or does not stay current with marketing trends. Regardless of the method, if you uncover the practice’s “mission or vision” or even just its marketing slogan, see if you can weave those ideas into your cover letter.


Once you have your feelers out there, and with the tips above, you won’t have to search high and low for that next great opportunity—you’ve been keeping your options open. Next issue: What if they call you for an interview?

About the author: Katherine Dobbs, RVT, CVPM, PHR, began as a registered veterinary technician (RVT) in 1992. Since that time, she has become a Certified Veterinary Practice Manager (CVPM), and created interFace Veterinary HR Systems LLC. She is also a Professional in Human Resources (PHR) and a Certified Compassion Fatigue Educator. Katherine has been published in various veterinary journals in the United States, UK, and Canada, and has published three books through AAHA

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