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Last year I decided it was time to move on from my current role and so, with some trepidation, I took the decision to start looking for a new job. I’m sure many of you have had this feeling too. This was suddenly kicked into a higher gear by being made redundant as part of pre-corporate buy-out cost cutting; hopefully this is something you haven’t experienced! In the end I had the choice of over 150 practices that contacted me directly and dozens more sent by recruitment agents. So how did I get here?

The Background

The recruitment crisis that has been hitting the headlines recently and may have been present in your mind through your recruitment process or job search, is really a retainment crisis. This is a many factored beast and we could discuss this until the cows come home. It basically boils down to a lack of skilled, experienced vets in many parts of the world, including here in the UK, with an increasing number of positions to be filled.

There are more than a few issues with the traditional model of veterinary recruitment. As a job seeker, it is very time consuming to seriously look for jobs; searching the job listings in all their various places and forms, sending out CVs, writing covering letters and sending requests for additional information, cyber-stalking practices to get a feel for them, phoning and talking to endless practice managers and exceedingly busy practice principals. Secondly, the job ads that are put out there are frustratingly lacking in the information which someone like me needs to make a choice; more on this on future posts. I was lucky, I was not tied to a particular location but this made it even harder in some regards. And then there are the recruitment agents; love or loathe them, they are part of the current recruitment scene and yet working with them just brought more problems than opportunities. I’m sure many of these frustrations are suffered by the practices doing the recruiting, too.

So what did I do? I reframed the problem and sought a new solution! And that solution was to advertise myself and allow the practices to come to me. Reverse recruiting, if you will. With the response I got, I wonder why I have not heard of any else doing this before!

Before you start, what do you want?

But before writing the advert and reverse-recruiting, there was one crucial stage. And that was to be certain of what I wanted for my next role and from my career in general.

I self-funded a trip to VMG-SPVS Congress to attend the “Vets Stay, Go Diversify” stream. This gave me some food for thought as to other options for my career, such as locuming and Joint Venture Partnerships, and allowed me to network too. This is where I bumped into Dr Dave Nicol and learnt about his “VetX:Thrive” course. This turned out to be just what I needed and I wish it had been available earlier in my career. The course allowed me map out want I wanted from my career and learn how to go about matching up somewhere to find a good fit. A lot of this self-reflection was a great use for what I have personally been investigating over the past year in the area of leadership, as the most important part of a good leader is to be self-aware and constantly reflecting. I also received some sage advice from Dr Dave through the mentoring part of the VetX:Thrive course on how to spot the right job in the sea of also-rans.

It was vital that before I put my advert out there (here it is), I was clear about what I wanted from the role, what I would negotiate on and what was non-negotiable. I also had a clear plan of how to sort the job offers. Then, as Dr Dave wisely says, I broke through the FEAR and went for it not knowing what opportunities the experience could bring. I didn’t know what response I would get. I didn’t know if a whole bunch of potential employers would think I was an idiot for doing this. But the 150-odd opportunities was more than enough to confirm I had done something amazing. I am also very glad that I had incidentally booked off a fortnight’s holiday at this time as the next process took 12 hour days for that fortnight and beyond to process it all! The DIY around the house would need to wait!

I hope there is something you can take away from this post and future posts. There is so much ground to cover here that I will be writing posts for weeks to expand on these; please check back frequently! If you are looking for a new job or role then I wish you good luck and you should consider reverse recruitment; I will write more about this next week. If you are a practice looking to recruit a new team member then look out for the gems but be prepared to go out there and find them! You can use my thoughts as an insight into how the recruitment process looks from the other side.