Writing a Standout Veterinary C.V
Update Your Veterinary CV Today.
During the current pandemic, most of us have found ourselves to have some extra time on our hands, finally getting around to completing that to do list that has been ever growing for a year or more! Is updating your CV on the list? It should be!
Why not use this time to write a stellar CV and really get ahead of the pack for the future? When the market starts moving again, there will be hundreds of Vets and Nurses looking for work across the UK, so it is important for your CV to really stand out to an employer and make a great first impression.
A great CV is important whether you are looking for locum or permanent work. It is your first opportunity to really highlight your skills and what you have to offer to an employer. As an agency, we review your CV to gather vital information about your skills and abilities to best represent you to the employer, and to ensure you have the skills and experience they are looking for.
There are many resources available on the web that can help you write a good CV, but what makes a great Veterinary CV?
Getting the basics right
- Keep it simple to read – use the same font and size throughout, with bold/underlined titles for each section. Do not use an overly enlarged font and waste space; size 11 Calibri is popular for documents. An employer is not interested if you can make your CV look fancy, but it is the content that needs to stand out to them, albeit presented professionally.
- Check your CV for poor spelling and grammar – this is important as it shows you take an element of pride in your work. Always read over your writing because even with spellcheck, things can still be missed!
- Try and keep your CV as close as possible to 2 sides of A4 paper. You can spill over onto a third page for necessary content, but no more than 3 pages ideally. It is likely that latter pages will not be read if it goes on for too long.
- Your CV offers limited yet valuable space, so always try to be as concise as you possibly can by using ‘to the point’ language and writing short sentences. This will make your CV easier to read, especially when employers are working their way through a pile of applications.
- Ask someone to read over it for you; a Veterinary professional and someone who doesn’t work in the sector. See what points both sides can gather from the information you have provided.
- Have a ‘Word’ copy and a ‘PDF’ copy saved. Most agencies will require a Word copy as they redact your personal information prior to sending to a client. If formatted from a PDF, some of the layout and presentation is lost.
- Write a cover letter, especially for permanent roles. Make it direct to the role you are applying for and not just a generic letter.
The layout and content
The order in which you present your CV is paramount. An employer wants to see what you have newly accomplished, and then work backwards. Their time is precious when reviewing applications, so you need to grab their attention with the most relevant information first and have that initial impact.
- Name and contact details
- Personal Profile/Introduction
- Specialities, Skills or Certificates
- Employment History
- Education and Qualifications
- Any other info – memberships, publications, CPD?
- Hobbies and Interests
Name and contact details
- Your name – first and surname at least, middle names are optional
- Contact details – these should be for you personally so refrain from using your current employer’s contact number or work email address.
- Your email address must be professional. If you have something like ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’ or ‘email@example.com’, (trust me, we have seen them all!), you should create a new email account specifically for your job searching.
- Include your mobile number on your CV and double check it is correct (this happens a lot!). If you’re already employed and worried about receiving calls at work, you can always include your contactable hours.
- Location – you are not required to list your full address, but the town and city you live in should be stated. If you’re happy to relocate, you can include that in your CV, and you can always state how far you feel it would be reasonable to commute.
Do not include/Optional
- Your marital and family status is optional. You may choose to include this information if you think it may be beneficial. For example; being single may make relocating or working unsociable hours more feasible. NB: Employers are forbidden from making a decision based on these factors by the Equality Act, but you are free to mention this information.
- Your date of birth is no longer necessary since the Equality Act of 2010.
- If you apply for a job that requires you to hold a driving licence, then you should include details of your licence such as; Clean Full UK Driving Licence.
- Do not include your nationality. Under the Equality Act of 2010, your nationality should not be included in your CV. This is because the act prohibits discrimination on the grounds of race, colour, or nationality, (including citizenship, ethnicity or national origin.)
- Do not include a photo of yourself on your CV. It is not a requirement and a photograph tends to bias people’s impression and is not always for the better! Your CV has limited space so choose to include information that will add value to it.
In the digital age that we live in, employers may choose to look you up on social media or carry out a simple Google search. This is becoming increasingly popular and many employers do it as part of their recruitment process. Ask yourself, would a search reveal any photos or information that would not be appropriate for an employer to see? If the answer is yes, you may need to review your social media settings or remove the images and posts in question.
This is the first part an employer will read after your name – make it gripping, make it unique! You have a few seconds to grab their attention and not have them read the same thing for the 10thtime in a row.
This section should provide an overview with context about you and your veterinary career, but keep it relevant. Include details of what type of Vet or Vet Nurse you are and any clinical interests or special expertise. You should also include your next desired career move.
One of the best openings to a CV I have read during my time in recruitment was because of the humour in the introduction. This candidate knew they wouldn’t have the same number of years’ experience as others applying for the role, so they had to demonstrate themself in another way, and stand-out to make me want to read on and know more about them. Needless to say, it worked, and I still remember it 4 years on!
Specialities, Skills or Certificates
List your relevant certificates or specialities/skills in this section. This is anything you feel may be attractive to an employer as a follow on from your introduction. It should be brief and bullet point format. Do not include your full education history as this will come later.
Your employment history is the most important part of your CV because it is the part prospective employers will be most interested in. Be concise and don’t leave employers to make assumptions.
List your previous employment in date order, starting with the most recent and working backwards. You should include the start and end date of your employment using Month/Year format. Ensure you use the same date format throughout your CV – try not to use a mixture of numbered dates and written dates, whether abbreviated or not, to maintain the presentation of your work. For example;
‘Locum SA Vet – Animals 4 Us, Nottingham – January 2018 – December 2019’
‘Locum SA Vet – Cloud Veterinary Surgery, Sheffield – June 2015 – November 2017’
It may seem obvious, but it’s important to accurately illustrate and promote your skills, and only ever use real examples. Each role that you list is an opportunity to show what you’ve been doing and, in most cases, will show your experience and skill set expanding throughout your career. Do not lie in your CV. Your experience is unique to you so your CV will always be unique too. An employer, be it a permanent or locum employer, will want to read your CV to get an initial impression of how you could benefit them and their practice.
It’s important that your work history has context as it’s a good way to highlight your key skills and responsibilities of the position and how this experience can be applied the job role they are offering. You should also highlight any personal accomplishments in your employment record. Do not just list dates and roles with no elaboration.
Locums may wish to choose to summarise some of their veterinary locum employment positions, but be sure to use this to point out and promote relevant skills and expertise you have developed along that path. For example;
‘3 vet, 100% SA practice covering own OOH duties and dealing with first opinion and referral work’
Not every clinician with 1/2/3/5+ years has the same experience with medicine and surgery. Use this opportunity to make your practical skills known to the employer holding your CV by highlighting your skills in detail as well as mentioning what your role was;
- Hospital or branch based?
- Sole charge or multi-team situation?
- Responsible for special clinics, expertise, etc?
- Clinical standards maintenance
At Carlton Professional, we also have a Clinical Skills Matrix we present alongside your CV to client practices, which breaks your skillset down even more. If you have not recently filled in a skills matrix for us, or would like to update yours due to new learning, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org the subject title ‘Clinical Skills Matrix’.
If you have worked internationally, as a volunteer, or in an ‘unusual’ vacancy, it’s important to illustrate the skills used and how the experience contributes to your current profile. The unfamiliar can sometimes be unsettling to a prospective employer so it’s always worth trying to smooth out any concerns they may have.
Professional experience is a priority for potential employers, but so is business acumen. Being able to demonstrate your interpersonal skills with clients, awareness of commercial pressures and business skills like being a team player, are also extremely important.
Education and Qualifications
List your education and qualifications by beginning with the most recent and work backwards. Remember to include the years you were in education at the named establishment, as well as the qualification attained and your grade.
Do not lie about your grades or qualifications; sometimes you may be asked for proof!
After your employment and qualification sections, you can include some additional information about any relevant CPD. You’re not required to list it all, but it is important to show the most recent couple of years to demonstrate compliance with the minimum required as part of RCVS membership. There is a growing requirement where clinics are asking to see recent CPD records.
We recommend that locums have their CPD as an appendix, or at least cover the last 2-3 years of CPD training and include highlights of anything of relevant importance or significance.
If you are a member of any relevant veterinary professional or industry bodies, such as the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons or British Small Animal Veterinary Association (BSAVA), you should include details under your profile. You can add details of the type of membership you hold, (e.g. fellowship), and the time period you have been a member for, (e.g. Member since 2012).
If you have been involved in any publications, it would be a good idea to also include it in this section.
Hobbies and Interests
It is good practice to include some brief information about your hobbies and interests. Although your skills and experience are of significant interest to prospective employers, you will be surprised by how many employment decisions are made based on shared interests with the employer.
Do not ‘over-provide’ in this section of your CV – keep it brief. The prospective employer does not need to know the names of your partner, children or pets at this stage of the recruitment process. You can elaborate on your personal circumstances if invited to an interview.
When seeking employment opportunities through our agency, you do not need to list your referees on your CV. However, it is always best to keep a note of your referees to hand, as it is important to share this information with the prospective employer at the appropriate time. This will also leave you more valuable space on your CV if you simply write;
‘References available upon request’
This will help to prevent your referee contacts from receiving unnecessary calls where clinics just want to be nosey – it really does happen!
Top Tips for Veterinary Graduates
Writing a CV as a veterinary graduate is slightly different from experienced Veterinarians or Vet Nurses, but it is important to follow the same format with just a few adjustments.
We realise you won’t have an extensive employment profile and so will prospective employers. They are, however, interested in your work experience placements and self-directed study.
When you are looking to start your veterinary career, it can be all too tempting to cast your net wide and apply for almost every job on the market. Spend some time doing your research to find out more about the type of job you would like. This not only narrows your search down, but it means you can avoid applying to jobs that you don’t really fit the criteria for, and it’ll stop you from applying for jobs you wouldn’t really enjoy.
5 Common Mistakes to Avoid
- Applicants fail to demonstrate commercial skills including great clinical skills, a love of animals and experience. These are all a priority in the world of Vet and Vet Nurse recruitment.
- Experience is important, but it’s not everything. Remember to highlight your soft skills, commercial skills and business acumen too.
- Don’t fail to tailor your CV to the job you are applying for (this applies more to permanent positions).
- You’re not up to date with industry news. Keeping up to date with the latest news will keep you in the loop of what employers are looking for. You’ll also be aware of current trends, opportunities and challenges that face the veterinary industry. Knowledge is key!
- Your CV is too long. A CV should ideally not be any longer than 2 sides of A4 paper – use the space wisely.