WANTED: High-quality Veterinary Job Candidates
Stacy Pursell, CPC, CERS
The law of supply and demand is transforming the veterinary profession, and the sky is the limit for many new grads.
Even if you’re not in tune with the world of business and finance, you’ve likely heard of the law of supply and demand. To set the stage for this article, I’d like to share its official definition, courtesy of dictionary.com: “the theory that prices are determined by the interaction of supply and demand: an increase in supply will lower prices if not accompanied by increased demand, and an increase in demand will raise prices unless accompanied by increased supply.”
I share this definition because it’s very applicable to what is happening within the veterinary profession today. Working as a search consultant and recruiter in the veterinary profession and animal health industry for close to 21 years, I’ve seen a lot, but recent trends — in terms of the law of supply and demand — have been startling.
To more effectively illustrate the points that I’ll be addressing, I’d like to once again use the aforementioned definition, but with substitutions that convey the current state of the veterinary profession: “the theory that [starting salaries] are determined by the interaction of supply and demand: an increase in [quality candidates] will lower [starting salaries] if not accompanied by increased demand, and an increase in demand will raise [starting salaries] unless accompanied by increased supply.”
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This adapted definition raises many questions about the veterinary profession, but I believe these are the two most important: Are quality candidates in demand? Are quality candidates in abundant supply? Let’s tackle each question separately.
Are Quality Candidates in Demand?
As a recruiter, I’m in the trenches of the marketplace every day and speak with hundreds of people each month. Because I’m actively helping veterinary employers fill open positions, I can tell you unequivocally that quality candidates are in demand. In fact, we are now in a candidates’ job market, which is tied to the recovering economy. In a recovering economy, certain rules govern the marketplace:
- Job openings are plentiful.
- Job seekers have more employment options.
- Employers have more difficulty finding or identifying the best candidates for open positions.
- Employers have more difficulty keeping candidates engaged during the hiring process.
- Employers have more difficulty successfully hiring candidates.
Not only are quality candidates in demand, but this trend is going to intensify. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, opportunities for veterinarians are set to climb by 19 percent through 2026, while roles for veterinary technicians will increase by 20 percent in that same time frame.1
Are Quality Candidates in Abundant Supply?
Just as I can confidently answer yes to the first question, I can confidently answer no to this one. This answer is also tied to the recovering economy and a candidates’ job market. Typically, for there to be a lack of qualified candidates, there first has to be an abundance of job openings — and that’s currently the case in the veterinary profession. Some might say that there’s an overabundance.
Keep in mind that it is possible to have an abundance of job openings and an abundance of qualified candidates, as is the case in some other industries and niches. As you might imagine, this scenario presents a better situation for employers because even with a persistent and ongoing need to fill open positions, they can do so with the qualified talent available. However, this is not currently the case in the veterinary profession. What we have is an abundance of job openings but a smaller pool of talent to fill those open positions. The longer this situation continues, the more problematic it becomes for employers because it costs organizations money if an important position is left open for too long or if organizations are forced to hire subpar candidates.
The Current State of the Marketplace
Quality veterinary candidates have higher salary requirements and increased expectations, and both are regularly being met. It’s a noticeable trend among recruiters that some recent graduates or those with less than two years of experience are expecting between $100,000 and $130,000 in base compensation — and, yes, they are receiving offers in that range.
My company recently met with a candidate who had two years of experience and had received three job offers. One of them included a $130,000 base, the second had close to a $130,000 base and the third offered $100,000 with a $130,000 guarantee.
This was not an isolated case. We also interviewed a recent graduate who was expecting a base salary of $120,000. Shortly after meeting, we already had a client that wanted to interview her. Think about that: no experience and commanding a $120,000 salary. That sums up almost perfectly how the law of supply and demand is affecting the veterinary profession. There is a tremendous demand for quality candidates and a glaring lack of candidates for veterinary employers to hire.
From all indications, this reality is set to shape the profession for years to come.
Ms. Pursell is an award-winning executive search consultant and recruiter specializing in the animal health, veterinary and pet products industries. She is founder and CEO of The Vet Recruiter.
- Occupational outlook handbook. Bureau of Labor Statistics website. www.bls.gov/ ooh/healthcare/veterinarians.htm. Updated April 30, 2018. Accessed May 15, 2018.
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