Vetsure

CALL US: 01707 226672

How to Write Great Vet Job Descriptions to Attract Talented Graduates

12th July 2017

Nearly 40% of new veterinary graduates leave their first job within 12 weeks.

Considering that it takes 6 months to fill a post in a quarter of small animal practices, there is reason to be concerned!

Candidates are filling jobs that they don’t particularly suit, that they don’t enjoy or finding that their expectations aren’t met – so something is clearly wrong.

Although not at the root of the crisis, our job descriptions certainly may not be helping matters. Focusing on these vital pieces of information may help reduce the shockingly high staff turnover veterinary practices are experiencing.

The problem with prescriptive job descriptions

In the grand scheme of recruitment, the job description is undeniably important. It’s the 500 or so words that are the first point of contact between many graduates and employers.

Besides it needing to make a positive impression on candidates, they need to engage, inform and entice candidates to apply. However, the entire industry tends to carry the precise, clinical tone we use in our job descriptions.

Reeling off a bullet pointed list of requirements isn’t exactly inspiring or enticing, though. Neither is a rigidly structured, to-the-point overview of the role. This approach may hint that your practice is demanding, high-pressure and not especially supportive.

Writing a job description with the above characteristics isn’t wrong, per se, but there may be a better approach to take to inspire graduates to come and work for you; one that echoes a better sentiment about your practice!

Constructing truly engaging job descriptions

Your job descriptions do not need to follow the norm of the industry. The most important thing is getting the right quality of applicants, and the greater the pool you have to pick from, the more confident you can be that your chosen candidate is the creme de la creme.

To do this, you need to consider the common issues new graduates face, and address them…

What should your job ad say?

50% of veterinary graduates surveyed by Vet Futures were “wholly or partly unsatisfied” with their careers.

Interestingly, the survey pointed towards stark dissatisfaction with career development opportunities and noted a lack of support for vets within practices. Although these are wider problems, we can address some of these concerns in job descriptions, for example:

  • Theme your job descriptions on career development
  • Note the support that candidates will have in their role

Using a ‘softer’ approach, perhaps sparing the list of responsibilities in the first few paragraphs of the job description, will allow you to elaborate on this. This should be the focus of your ad, rather than the size of the pay packet.

Also, list the most fundamental information at the top of your ad. It saves graduates the effort of thoroughly reading an ad that they can’t realistically get to your practice or aren’t looking for this type of role. Make sure that you state you are looking for new graduates, too.

What to include

1. A quick-read overview

In the first paragraph, state the most important information to a reader. This should include the type of work your practice does (be as specific as you can), the experience necessary (i.e. a new grad position) and your geographical location! All of which are vital for a reader before they decide to invest time reading about your practice!

2. Desired graduate traits

Rather than focusing on requirements and listing those off, talk about the traits you would desire of an applicant. Universities teach students to focus their applications around these traits, and demonstrate their capability around these skills, as opposed to tasks.

Creating a number of desirable traits shows that you know what the culture of your practice is, and you have a specification for the type of person that will best suit you.

3. Something entirely different

Additional resources beyond the job description can go a long way and make a meaningful impact upon potential recruits. This could include:

  • Consider joining a recognised Graduate Scheme
  • Create an FAQ document for applicants
  • Produce video content of your practice, such as testimonials from your staff
  • Provide application guides, detailing what a great application looks like and focuses upon

These help depict a clear picture and identity for your practice, enabling you to show off your culture and present your practice in a great light. You can also give talented graduates hints about the type of candidate you are looking for, and what a successful application may look like.

4. Be succinct, yet valuable

Indeed, the jobs website, found that longer job descriptions have higher application rates. Job descriptions with 700-1100 words receive 30% more applications. Many veterinary job descriptions fail to exceed the 500 word mark, there is a lack of detail.

Many job descriptions in our industry fail to exceed the 500 word mark. This means we’re leaving out important information and probably focusing too much on the tasks we expect graduates to complete, rather than selling the ‘experience’ of working in our practice.

However, job descriptions also need to be easily consumable. That means it should be easy to scan, with an introductory paragraph that gives a complete summary of the role and what it entails.

5. Follow through on your promises

Under promise and over deliver. If you are stating you offer support and development… you need to see this through. Put a comprehensive induction in place you cannot expect someone to walk into a role and fulfil all of your expectations immediately. You need to manage their performance and allow them to progress.

Vetsure have developed a new graduate-friendly practice scheme that will not only help to maximise the visibility and impact of your job description but also sets out a comprehensive programme to nurture their development. Find out more about becoming a Graduate Friendly Practice with Vetsure.

Conclusion

Your job descriptions are a vital point of the recruitment process. Ultimately, they dictate the role and suitability of a candidate that chooses to apply. We know some of the concerns of graduates, so writing your job descriptions with these concerns in mind will help you generate high-quality applications.