Your Career: Plan B

Your Career: Plan B

Here's help dreaming up your next great career in veterinary medicine.
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Apr 19, 2017

Getty ImagesI love being a veterinary technician, but there’s a point in every one of our careers where we notice the hard work starts to take a toll. It gets a little harder to stand back up after wrestling a rottie for a nail trim. Maybe you’re even feeling emotionally burnt out. You’ve put in years of work in the veterinary field, so what now?

You don’t want to leave the field, but you want something … new. Something different.

Tag your ideas

[#IRunThisShow] You’ve worked in a hospital for years and learned a lot about how it runs—be a practice manager.

[#K9sRule] Maybe you like working with animals, but are tired of the daily appointments: I know a woman who worked with the dogs as a customs officer at the airport. Search for a position working with border patrol or military working dogs.

[#TheseAREMyMonkeys] A friend of mine is really into science and research, so she cares for the animals in their lab.

[#LostAndFound] Another friend does search and rescue work with her bloodhounds.

[#MultitaskWithDogs] If you like setting your own hours, pet sitting, dog walking or dog training might be a good fit for you.

[#YouBelongInAZoo] I’ve seen job listings at zoos looking for people to teach visitors about exotic animals and wildlife.

[#StudentsAreOurFuture] And while we’re discussing teaching, why not take all your experience and teach the next generation at a veterinary technician school?

There are tons of great opportunities out there!

Do your homework

Look for job listings online with keywords like “animal,” “veterinary” and “medicine.” These bring up most of the jobs in veterinary hospitals—but also some other jobs that might appeal to you.

Websites like indeed.com, jobing.com and monster.com are popular, but also try veterinary association websites such as avma.org, aaha.org and navta.net. And what about wheretechsconnect.com, ihireveterinary.com and glassdoor.com? Over the years, you’ve made a lot of friendships and built relationships. You meet new people every day, find new friends at CE sessions (like at CVC), and network with others in the field during professional organization meetings. This is the time to examine those associations and see where you can make connections.

Get a resume good enough to retweet

Find an interesting job and submit your resume. Make sure yours doesn’t look old-fashioned. Microsoft Word comes with modern resume templates and there are lots of resume-building websites, such as livecareer.com, resume-now.com and resumegenius.com. Pro tip: Include your accomplishments, not just a list of duties. For example: “With the surgical task list I streamlined, we were able to complete two more surgeries per day.” I’ve used: “I created urine specimen kits for owners that minimized the time it took to explain handling procedures, speeding up appointments and improving the quality of urine specimens.” Come up with your own!

A student once said to me, “Julie, no one in a hospital is going to hire me. I don’t have any experience!” Her resume listed three jobs, none of which were in the veterinary field. I told her, “You worked as a cashier at Taco Bell, which tells me that you know how to handle payments and balance the books at the end of the night. You were the nutrition supervisor at a daycare; that tells me that you understand the basics of nutrition, not to mention how to handle an energetic group with short attention spans—not unlike puppies. And you worked as a waitress. That tells me that you know how to prioritize and provide good customer service. Now we just have to reword your resume a little so that the person in charge of hiring can see what I see.”

Spell it out for hiring managers! They have a lot of resumes coming at them. Make it easy to see why they should hire you. Check for typos, and don’t forget that cover letter. The hiring manager at one hospital told me that even though my qualifications were on par with the other candidates, I was the only one that provided a cover letter, which tipped the scale in my favor and got me the job.

Get a “Like” at your interview

The resume worked. It’s interview time. Let’s go!

Dress professionally. Keep tattoos covered, eliminate extreme hairstyles and limit the amount of piercings you show. The job may be fairly liberal with its dress code, but it’s safer to go in looking more conservative than not.

 Prep for questions. You could be asked, “What’s your greatest weakness?” Employers use that to see if you can think on your feet and, honestly, to weed out candidates who actually tell them, “I’m late all the time.” Read up on common job interview questions at theinterviewguys.com and job-hunt.org. Be honest, but avoid sounding defensive. Never talk badly about previous employers. Interviewers figure if you’ll talk badly about your last job, you’ll talk badly about them someday, too.

Starting a new career can be scary. It can be comfortable to stay in a job where you know what to expect each day. But starting that comfortable job was scary at one time, too. If you’re starting to question your career path, go see what’s out there. You might find a second career that you love even more than your first!

Julie Carlson, CVT, is a freelance author. She is the winner of the 2015 Hero Veterinary Technician Award from the American Humane Association and the Founder of Vets for Vets’ Pets, a nonprofit organization providing medical care to the pets of homeless and at-risk veterans. Julie has five cats and two Chihuahuas and lives in Phoenix, Arizona.