How to write a CV

Written by Harry Marshall Reading time: 6 mins

Have you read all the ‘How to write a CV’ guides online, but are wondering if the same applies to a Veterinary CV?

Well – the answer is kind of. Some CV tips are universal, and some are only pertinent to the Veterinary Industry. Take a look below for our all-encompassing guide:

CV Basics

The same principles will apply to CVs across all industries, so always make sure to:

  • Check your spelling!
    Nothing turns a potential employer off more than spelling and grammar errors. It doesn’t take long to proofread, and there are so many free tools like Grammarly that can make sure everything’s correct. Send it to a friend or family member to read over too.

  • Don’t use the unprofessional email address you created when you were 8.
    ‘julezizcoolz@hotmail.com’ is no longer cool I’m afraid. If you don’t have one, just create a new one – it only takes 5 minutes.

  • Don’t make it too long - keep your CV to two sides of A4.
    Although you also don’t want it to be too short so finding the balance is tricky. If you’re a new grad, going for a grad scheme role, don’t worry – you aren’t expected to have a CV brimming with experience.

  • Put the restaurant/retail job on your CV.
    Is it a Veterinary job? No. But, has it taught you skills that you can highlight and subsequently use in practice? Absolutely. Working in a bar teaches you how to handle clients, whilst packing parcels you learned how to be productive, etc.

  • Don’t ramble on.
    Use short, sharp, information heavy sentences. If a recruiter is having to read 100s of CVs per day, they don’t want to read an essay. Showcase your skills and experience without writing 10,000 words.

Write a Cover Letter and Don’t Copy Paste the Same One!

Yes, yes, I know it’s tedious, but it does make a difference. You don’t have to write a new one from scratch every time but try to include personal details in each cover letter. If you know the practice you are applying at, look at their ‘Meet the Team’ page. If you find a shared interest with the practice owner, then mention it. Be sure to say why you want that job, not just any Veterinary job, but THAT job. Go through the job description and pick out some points if that makes it easier and be sure to use their language when writing a cover letter. If they say they are looking for someone ‘personable and dedicated’. Use the words ‘personable’ and ‘dedicated’ in your cover letter but be sure to give examples!

A CV reflects You, so Make it Personal

Make sure that you have a ‘personal and interests’ section where you can give a little information on your passions. This shouldn’t be a full personal profile but make the reader aware of your pastimes. At the end of the day, the practice is hiring a team member that is expected to get on with other people and provide a friendly service to clients. Soft skills are so important in the veterinary profession so try to give those reading your CV and especially your cover letter an idea of why you love the veterinary profession and what you’re like as an individual. They’ll want you to be a great cultural fit in their workplace.

Be Specific and Detailed

Vets, nurses, and non-clinical staff will be going through a similar daily process to you every day. There isn’t much scope for a varied role within a practice which can lead to lots of CVs looking the same. Yes, there needs to be a skills matrix or ‘comfortable/experienced with’ element to your CV, but the base level expectations are pretty standard across the board. Everyone ‘provides a high level of care’ to animals that come through the door, so think about putting specific examples or cases that will help you to stand out; ‘mentioned in our group’s newsletter for providing great care with a particularly difficult bitch spay’ looks much better.

When detailing your experience, be sure to name the practice, the role, sole charge, mixed/SA/farm, etc. By detailing the previous environment, you worked in you can give a potential employer a good idea of your experience.

It’s Not All About Clinical Experience

Am I saying that great clinical standards aren’t a priority when writing a CV? Of course not. It is still the main focus, however, you can help to make your CV stand out from the rest by demonstrating other skills, such as commercial awareness.

Pick out some examples where your social skills have had an impact, maybe where you have recovered a relationship with a tricky client, helped to build a new practice, or had an impact in rolling out a new membership scheme. This is again where non-veterinary experience may come into play. Practice owners are businesspeople as well as vets and nurses, so showing that you understand their priorities and some of their problems is important.

If you’re a new grad or haven’t got that much experience, talk about your self-directed study. What have you come across that interested you and do you have an idea of what area you might like to specialise in later down the line if any? There’s a lot more than just experience to write about on a CV.

Be Yourself

At the end of the day, make sure what you are writing is true to you. You know what your strengths and weaknesses are as well as your aspirations. Don’t be tempted to apply for every job you see. Take your time to submit 5 or 10 high-quality applications with targeted, personal cover letters rather than 100 cookie-cutter applications… it really does make a difference!

For more information on how to write a CV, check out this webinar: https://www.thewebinarvet.com/webinar/cv-writing-and-interview-tips

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