Self-Help Information: Job Search Packet
Experts suggest beginning your job search 6 – 9 months prior to your graduation!
The most important consideration in your first work experience is to work in a
practice that is dedicated to mentoring you!
enthusiastic about veterinary medicine and practice
self-motivated – able to jump in where needed
focused – able to keep on track, completing tasks in a
quick learners with a desire to continue learning
able to multi-task – works well under pressure
able to maintain a good sense of humor
good communicators – works well with clients and staff
interested in the profession and promoting veterinary
medicine in all arenas
loyal to clinic and works as part of a team
What Veterinary Employers Want:
Employees that are:
What New Grads Should Look For:
Employers that provide:
support, mentoring and guidance but allows you to test
professionalism, ethical practice, good relationship
with colleagues, public
reasonable hours and compensation
staff respect and support
clean work environment
feedback and constructive feedback
respect for your opinions, treating you as an equal
material, staff and equipment to provide optimum care
and diagnosis, or the ability to refer when the patient’s
needs exceed the ability of the staff or facilities
reasonable expectation of workload
commitment to continuing education
term of employment agreement
employer’s practice philosophy
professional liability insurance
compensation – salary – base + % production
emergency duties and compensation
vacation/sick leave time
continuing education and professional membership dues
health, dental, disability insurance
retirement and 401K plans
personal pet care
JOB SEARCH STRATEGIES
Three Important Factors for a Successful Job Search
- awareness of your goals and skills
- an understanding of the labor market
- a well planned job search campaign
Steps to Conduct a Job Search
I. Self-Assessment – identify your values,
interests, skills, accomplishments, experience and goals
A. Values – qualities that are important and desirable
(leads to greater satisfaction)
B. Interests – arouse attention and enthusiasm (closely
related to values and can trigger, or lead to, skill
C. Skills – recognize your skills and communicate how
they will benefit an employer (think accomplishments and
II Research and Explore Veterinary Career Options
– explore the "matches" between your identified skills,
interests and values and the demands of career fields
Sole owner or partnership
Specializations (feline, equine, dairy, food animal,
exotics, surgery, ophthalmology, etc.)
Clinic, hospital, mobile, private residence
74% of veterinarians in U.S. are in private practice
(58% small animal, 8% farm animals/horses; 29% mixed animal)
Research and development of new products
Clinical evaluation of new products
Federal, state and municipal
Protect public health and insure safe food supply
through testing, prevention, and elimination of animal
Department of Health and Human Services
Department of Agriculture
Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS)
U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
Department of Energy
Care for government-owned animals
U.S. Army Veterinary Corps
U.S. Air Force
Teaching and Research
Teach professional, graduate and undergraduate students
Conduct laboratory and clinical research
Lab animal medicine
Zoo practice and management
National Aeronautical Space Administration (NASA)
Environmental impact study teams
Pet store franchise
III. Choose a Career Field and Target Employers
– no career will utilize all your skills, allow you to develop
your interests, and incorporate a value system completely with
yours. Try to target a career field that will satisfy some of
your high-priority needs.
A. Good research on employers will not only give you the
competitive edge, but also help you decide which employers
you want to reach and which strategies you will use to
B. Informational interviews
C. Talk with current and former employees
IV. Prepare Job Search Materials and Develop Job Search
A. Resumes and cover letters should be tailored to
reflect your qualifications as they relate to the interests
of prospective employers
B. Job search skills include effective interviewing
skills, marketing yourself well, and salary negotiations
V. Plan and Conduct a Job Search Campaign – set
aside a specified amount of time each week to work on your
A. Pursue Advertised Vacancies (most popular)
- Journals (JAVMA, Compendium, Veterinary Medicine,
- AVMA – Career Center
- Conferences – job boards
- Internet sites
- Newspaper classified ads
- Employment agencies
Although this is the most popular method it is not the
Nearly 80% of openings are never advertised!
B. Develop a Network – most jobs are gained through
- Acquaint yourself with professionals in that field
- People in your network may include family members,
friends, classmates, professors, past employers, peers
in various organizations, etc.
C. Contact Employers Directly
- Send a cover letter and resume to the clinic,
practice, organization, etc.
- Follow up with a phone call – may result in an
invitation to meet with the employer
- Indicate your desire to meet with them even if they
have no positions available (informational interview
works well here)
- Always follow up all interviews with a thank you
letter or phone call
- Develop a new contact in your network (stay in
D. Follow-Up and Record Keeping
- Keep a record of all contact, interviews, thank you
notes, referrals, etc.
E. Be Persistent!
- Do not be reluctant to submit your resume on more
than one occasion to an organization for which you would
like to work
- Demonstrates enthusiasm and interest
VI. Obtain Offer and Continue to Develop Your Career
A. Send thank you notes to those who helped in your job
B. Continue to develop your short and long term career
THINGS TO CONSIDER IN YOUR JOB SEARCH
- Preferred Work Functions
actual work tasks and responsibilities
- Salary Needs
cost of living
- Preferred Geography
- Work Environment
size of clinic/organization
- Special Needs
- Career Field
Printable form for RECORD
Veterinary Job Websites
(veterinary career center of the AVMA)
(good list of links)
(jobs in the U.S. and other countries)
Military Job Websites
(Department of Agriculture)
of Health and Human Services)
(Complete government listings)
www.fda.gov (Food and
(Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service)
Career and Salary Information
www.bls.gov (Bureau of
Note: This is not an exhaustive list. Although time
consuming, the web can provide helpful information for
employment and careers in veterinary medicine.
WHAT IS BEHAVIORAL-BASED INTERVIEWING?
Behavioral-based interviewing is based on the premise that
past behavior/performance predicts future behavior/performance.
Past performance examples may come from work experience,
activities, hobbies, volunteer work, family life, etc. At an
interview, it is important to focus on your experiences,
behaviors, and dimensions (which include knowledge, skills, and
abilities), that are job related.
THE STAR TECHNIQUE
Your answer to a behavior-based question must explain the
situation you were in, the task (problem) for which you were
responsible, the specific action you took, and the results of
your actions. Your answer must contain all of these components
to be a complete STAR.
EXAMPLE 1: Describe a recent work related
problem and the actions you took to solve it.
SITUATION: Advertising revenue was falling off for the
Evergreen, WSU’s school newspaper, and large numbers of
long-term advertisers were not renewing contracts.
TASK: My goal was to increase advertising revenues.
ACTION: I designed a new promotional packet to go with the
rate sheet and compared the benefits of Evergreen circulation
with other ad media in the area. I also set-up a special
training session for the account executives with a professor who
discussed competitive selling strategies.
RESULT: We signed contracts with fifteen former advertisers
for daily ads and five for special supplements. We increased our
new advertisers by twenty percent over the same period last
EXAMPLE 2: Tell me about a time when you had to
exert leadership in a crisis situation.
SITUATION: Right before Thanksgiving break, most people had
gone home for the weekend break. Our fraternity president and
vice president had already left for home when we got a call that
one of our brothers had been involved in a car accident.
TASK: My task was to provide support in this emergency
ACTION: I volunteered to go to the hospital to be with my
brother and then called his parents in Spokane. I also made
arrangements for them to stay at the Hospital Hospitality House
when they got to Pullman.
RESULT: They were pleased I had taken time from my own
weekend to help them. Our chapter advisor congratulated me for
keeping a cool head and handling the situation. I’ve since
decided to run for chapter office.
PREPARING FOR BEHAVIORAL-BASED INTERVIEWS
Analyze the type of positions for which you are
applying. What skills do employers require?
Analyze your own background. What skills do you have
(content, functional, and adaptive) that relate to your job
Identify examples from your past experience where you
demonstrated those skills. Concentrate on developing
Where possible, quantify your results.
Be prepared to provide examples of when results didn’t
turn out as you planned. What did you do then?
Before entering the interview room, identify 2 to 3 of your
top selling points and determine how you will convey these
points (with demonstrated STARS) during the interview.
Keep a personal achievement diary while in college and once
you’re employed to help document demonstrated performance using
the STAR technique.
NOTE: Candidates must be able to demonstrate to an
employer that they have the skills necessary to do the job. Even
if the employer is not conducting a behavioral-based interview,
candidates can succeed in the interview by concentrating on
relating "STARS" to the employer and evaluating their
achievements in this fashion.
PRACTICE BEHAVIORAL QUESTIONS
What was the toughest decision you had to make at a
Tell me about the most difficult person you’ve had to
Tell me about a group project that you were involved in.
What was your role?
Tell me about a time when you had to persuade someone to
your point of view.
Describe a recent work-related problem and the actions
you took to solve it.
Tell me about a time that you had to overcome
Tell me about a time when you demonstrated
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced in college
and how did you deal with it?
Tell me about a time when you had to resolve a conflict
in a group situation.
Tell me about a time when you followed through on a
commitment, despite difficulties.
What kind of pressure did you feel on your last job? How
did you handle it?
Describe a situation where you had to do several tasks
at the same time.
Describe a situation when you had to work with someone
very different from you.
Can you describe a time when you disagreed with a
co-worker or supervisor? How did you handle it?
Don’t view any experience as insignificant—in an
interview it’s likely that hearing about one of those
seemingly insignificant or minor experiences will satisfy
interviewers more than a recounting of a top achievement.
During the stress of an interview, you’ll be
hard-pressed to recall good examples—however, you’ll have
little trouble remembering them now when you aren’t under
Rehearse how you’d describe key experiences to
interviewers so you can recount them vividly and concisely.
If you can create strong visual images in the interviewers’
minds, you’ll have a better chance of convincing them that
you have the desired skills.
When you relate a story to interviewers, describe
features of your personality that helped you succeed, what
exactly you accomplished, and how your work helped your
employer or group.
Telephone interviewing is becoming increasingly common in
today’s competitive job market. This method of interviewing can
have advantages and disadvantages for both the job seeker and
the employer. Employers like this method because it is a
cost-effective and impartial way of interviewing employees. To
give yourself an edge it is important to keep these tips in
Keep your resume and cover letter near the phone, so
that an unexpected call from a potential employer will not
leave you unprepared. Have a few well-formed questions
prepared to ask. This expresses interest and intelligence to
Expect to be asked when, why, and how questions
regarding both your employment and educational history.
These questions are commonly posed by employers to get a
quick assessment of the interviewee.
Wait until the interviewer has had a chance to set their
agenda for the interview before you take control of the
conversation. Typically, interviewers have information they
want to impart and are more focused on talking than
listening at the beginning.
Have a brief, 45-60 second description of yourself ready
to state to interviewers. You should include background,
experience, and skills that validate your appropriateness
for the job.
Make sure the information you tell an interviewer does
not conflict with your resume.
If asked about your background, be upfront and do not
express discomfort at the questions. Often this will be a
red flag to employers as to a past problem.
Ask for the interviewer’s name so that you can send a
thank you letter after the interview.
Remember that the interviewer will not be able to physically
see you. Thus, body language can not be used to help you make a
positive impression. This being the case, what you say and how
you say it become much more important. You should strive to
present a strong, confident image of yourself, as an interviewer
will be more apt to make a positive evaluation of you. Talk
about your experiences and what you have learned from them. One
tip to remember is to use crisp and clear language to present
fact-filled sentences. This will keep the interviewers attention
as you continue the conversation. It is also important to let
the interviewer know that you are focused on what he/she is
saying by interjecting short phrases such as: "I agree" and
"That’s right". Sound sincere and do not come across as a
"salesman" trying to pitch yourself to the interviewer.
At the conclusion of the interview, propose a face-to-face
meeting at the interviewer’s convenience in the near future. If
the company is in another area you can ask if they will be in
your area and available to meet. If the interviewer finishes
with saying that you may not be a good match for the job, do not
be afraid to show surprise and recount your related skills and
background and offer to answer any further questions. Remember
to send a thank you letter, restating your interest in the
position and thanking them for their consideration.
QUESTIONS YOU MAY ASK IN AN INTERVIEW
During the initial interview, ask questions that show you are
interested in and knowledgeable about the organization and the
position for which you are interviewing. "What’s in it for me"
questions (salary, benefits) should be left for later interviews
with the organization or until a job offer has been made.
INFORMATION ABOUT THE ORGANIZATION
What makes your organization different from other?
How did the organization get where it is today?
Where does this organization plan to be in 5 years? In
10 years? In 20 years?
How does the organization plan to get there?
What is the greatest challenge, from your perspective,
that the organization faces in the next year?
What are the core values of this organization?
POSITION & INFRASTRUCTURE
How does the job for which I am interviewing fit in with
the mission of the organization?
What would a typical day be like in the position for
which I am interviewing?
How does this position relate to others in this
Which departments would I interact with most?
What is the organization’s policy on promotions?
How is the position for which I am applying evaluated?
How long should a person plan, on average, to be in a
position before being eligible for promotion?
Does the organization have formal career paths
What is the organization’s policy on lateral transfers?
In your opinion, where would the supervisor for this
position intend to be in 1 year? In 5 years?
How did the opening for which I am applying occur?
Where is the person who held the position before the
How secure is this position?
Your organization has recently reorganized. Do you
anticipate further changes in the next year? Would they
affect the position for which I am applying?
Is training provided for the position for which I am
interviewing? How is it provided? How long is it provided?
Are training opportunities available through the
What is the organization’s policy on continuing
education through colleges? Professional seminars?
How does the organization handle days away from work to
attend classes or seminars?
Does the organization support membership and
participation in professional organizations?
What is the organization’s policy on relocation?
How often could a person be expected to move in this
Does the organization cover relocation expenses?
Does the organization assist with the relocation process
(finding housing, job assistance for spouse, etc.)?
BENEFITS (Best to ask after an offer is made)
What type of benefits program does the organization
offer – fixed or cafeteria style?
Which of the following are available: medical, dental,
vision, accidental death/dismemberment, company car or
mileage allowance, clothing allowance, athletic/exercise
facilities, bonuses, profit sharing, stock options,
How much does the organization pay for?
COMPENSATION (Best to ask after an offer is made)
What is the starting salary?
What is the maximum salary, if any, for this position?
How are raises awarded? According to tenure? According
to merit? Cost of living?
How often is a person eligible for a raise?
How often are paydays?
Possible Interview Questions
Tell me about yourself.
Of what are you most proud?
Describe your ideal work environment.
Describe the most difficult work-related situation you
have ever faced. How did you react?
How important is communication and interaction with
others on the job in this field?
How do you normally respond to conflict in the work
Tell me about a time you had to go beyond what is
normally expected of an employee to get the job done.
Why did you select your field of study?
What is your greatest educational achievement? Greatest
How do you think your education has prepared you for
your desired career?
How do you like to spend your time outside of work and
What goals have you set for yourself outside of work?
What is your favorite book?
What are your short and long-term personal/career goals?
Why are they important to you?
What is the one thing you hope to accomplish in your
Give an example of an important goal you set and
describe how and why you did/did not reach it.
What is your greatest strength? Weakness?
What do you think your greatest contribution to our
organization will be?
How can our organization help you overcome your greatest
weakness or trait?
What can you do for us that someone else cannot do?
What is your typical role as a group member?
How do you work under pressure?
Give an example of a time you acted as a leader. What is
your leadership style?
What do you consider your greatest success?
What do you consider your greatest failure?
Knowledge of the Organization
Why did you seek a job with our organization?
What do you know about our organization?
Why should we hire you?
What distinguishes you from other people I am
What do you want me to remember about you?
How to get from what they offer to what you want!
First of all, let’s understand the process!
There are two different philosophies regarding salary
negotiation and they just might make a difference to you.
"First Offer, Best Offer"
A company that has this philosophy has a handle on the
employment market and is familiar with what the average
compensation is for the type of position they are offering. When
an offer is made, they typically believe they are offering a
competitive offer, which represents a fair wage and is the best
offer they can offer at this time. In this philosophy, there is
no conscious effort to extend an offer where negotiation is
expected and have found it counterproductive to bring in an
"Negotiation is OK and expected"
This philosophy can be the attitude of the hiring personnel
or a reflection of the company’s culture. It could be that this
is the last step in the interview process: negotiating your way
into a decent offer, the final test of your aptitude for the
position being offered.
So you ask now, "How will I know which philosophy my employer
has?" Good question! You can respond to both in the same manner,
and it is how they answer that will let you know which
philosophy they are ascribing to.
When told of the salary offer, instead of responding with a
quick OK, your response could be a thoughtful "Hmmm". If your
interviewer is of the 1st philosophy, he/she may explain how
they arrived at the salary quoted and will be prepared to await
your acceptance, or response.
If your interviewer is of the latter philosophy, they might
counter with a question such as: What salary did you have in
mind? This is often a cue to begin the salary negotiation
Sometimes entry-level applicants may think that salary
negotiation is for the "big buck" positions; however, it’s often
easier to negotiate at the hourly-wage level than practically
anywhere else. An extra $1-3 per hour seldom exceeds a company’s
In addition, remember to consider the fringe benefit
package, this can often account for much more than an increase
in salary. Remember- "nothing ventured, nothing gained!"
David G. Jensen, Search Masters International
Jack Chapman, author of Negotiating Your Salary: How to Make
a $100 a Minute
Need Additional Help?
Washington State University College of Veterinary
Medicine Counseling and Wellness Services offer free individual counseling for
these and related issues for veterinary students (WSU Veterinary Students ONLY).
For more information or to schedule an appointment call or e-mail:
Donna J. Scott, PhD
The information contained in these self
help documents is not to be used as a substitute for professional care. Neither
the authors, Washington State University nor the College of Veterinary Medicine
assume liability for injury incurred by following the information presented in
these self-help documents