Ready to be recruited for a veterinary job?


Fishing for the perfect position? Recruiters pose an interesting possibility for job-seeking team members looking for the right practice.

Recently, a colleague recounted her experience with a career recruiter while seeking a position as a veterinary technician. Her experience wasn't positive, which prompted me to research a few guidelines for navigating the want ads with-or without-a recruiter.

In the case of my colleague, the recruiter screened her from out of state and made a connection between her and a corporate-owned practice. The connections were smooth and encouraging as were all the technical and personal interviews, but the recruiter handled the compensation package details. In this case, the recruiter may have benefited based on the end salary and consequently priced a very competent technician in the league of a senior veterinarian. Flattering, but not realistic! My colleague had no delusions of grandeur but she assumed that the recruiter knew better than she did. That assumption likely cost her the position. Once the unrealistic parameter was set, no counter offer was returned. 

Most commonly you will find yourself in the hands of a recruiter when you respond to an advertisement. Usually, recruiters attempt to do the leg work on behalf of corporate or larger scale interests by placing ads, conducting phone or personal interviews and offering up high-quality applicants for further review. Often, these ads will appear nonspecific without identifying the clinic, company or corporation directly. Ultimately, working through a recruiter might be an amazing benefit if you are sharp enough to ask these smart questions.


1. Who does the recruiter work for? How do they get paid, and is their final fee based on your compensation package, a bonus or a flat fee? This could be important if they are negotiating for their ultimate profit vs. yours. Be clear about your minimums and maximums for salary, benefits and relocation expenses, just to name a few.

2. Are they experienced and knowledgeable about the working conditions and expectations of your field? Does the recruiter really know what you do? Vast experience in one field of recruitment does not necessarily translate to even simple competence when relating to a separate field of expertise. An MD vs. a DVM does not offer the same working conditions or compensation and aren't particularly comparable!

3. Does the recruiter know what salary is commensurate with your experience? Is he or she capable of negotiating on your behalf? Also consider location. In California starting wages may be vastly different than in Kentucky.

4. Do you trust the recruiter to fairly represent your needs?

5. Ask for your recruiter's resumé and qualifications. Although, you are not paying them directly-and it isn't legal for them to ask a fee unless you have solicited them to represent you-they do stand to benefit from you indirectly. A good recruiter knows that you are the product he or she is trying to sell and will handle you with fairness and value.

If you do have reservations about the recruiter, express this to your interviewers as you progress. Avoid accusatory statements like, “I don't think the recruiter knows what he's doing!” However, it would be completely appropriate to say, “I've not worked through a recruiter in the past and I am not sure I fully understand the process.” This may alert your potential employer to reservations you may have about the hiring process, especially if you have concerns. 

Often, a recruiter can be a huge benefit in pushing you to the top of a large pile of veterinary applicants if they have already earned the trust of a potential employer. In most cases, a recruiter stands to gain little if you do not advance. But it's important to consider that in their eagerness to profit, your needs may fall secondary if you have not been clear. If you're confident in their skills they may also be able to negotiate terms you may not be comfortable negotiating yourself. A recruiter also may be capable of being frank with you about the office culture and work environment you're potentially entering, assuming they have done their own leg work and interviews on the other side of the fence. Be proactive and ask questions. Be demanding if necessary. Make sure the recruiter has a very clear understanding of your needs and is capable of working in your best interests. Good luck!  

Kelley Ferguson has worked as a practice manager at Newman Veterinary Center in Edgewater, Florida.

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