Moving to the UK is not as easy as your friends make you think. Sure, once you’ve done it and are looking back, it doesn’t sound that hard… But after speaking to dozens of vets that struggled to make their move into a success and many others that eventually overcame that challenge at a cost for their own well-being, I can pinpoint some common mistakes that vets make as they are trying to look for jobs to move to the UK. Pay attention to them so you can learn from them instead of repeating them!
Using only recruitment agencies for finding jobs
It’s very common to speak to vets who are getting very frustrated with their job search. They have spoken to several recruitment agencies, sent them the CVs, told them exactly what they’re looking for and they’re waiting. And waiting. And waiting.
Here’s the thing, you are usually a low-value candidate for recruitment agencies. You live abroad, you may not even be registered with the RCVS yet, you have little to no experience of the UK market… unless you have some practical experience that you managed to highlight pretty darn well on your CV, you’ll be at the bottom of the list agencies send to clinics with candidates for jobs.
You also have to pay attention to the fact that you are not the client of a recruitment agency. The clinic is. You are not paying them, the clinic is. The clinic is going to pay the recruitment agency if they send them your CV and you get hired.
This is another reason why using only recruitment agencies can be limiting for your career: if you do get some offers, you will likely get a much worse offer than if you do not use a recruitment agency. That’s because some clinics will cut down on your salary to pay the recruitment fees (yes – they are that high).
There is nothing wrong with using recruitment agencies, especially if you use reputable ones (contact us and we can put you in touch with one of those!), but if you only use recruitment agencies, you will likely become very frustrated with the lack of success.
Doing job applications the wrong way
Actually, most vets do start by applying for jobs themselves. They search for them, they send in applications, they hear crickets and stare at their inboxes that have absolutely zero replies, and then they decide to use recruitment agencies because they’re not being particularly successful.
But there are very particular reasons for your lack of success with this!
- You’re applying for the wrong jobs
- Your CV and cover letter are not good enough to convince clinics to give you a chance
The latter is usually the case. No one teaches you how to do a CV and you likely pay very little attention to your cover letter. Yes, most people have a CV, but after having proofread dozens of CVs, I can tell you that I can count by the fingers of one hand the amount of times I didn’t suggest major CV improvements. Most vets have no idea how to create a proper job application, even when you try to google it (the veterinary world is a specific world and much of the advice is not for the UK market).
There is no reason for you to leave your career in the hands of others. Learn how to do a good job application for the UK (if you need help, we do this with you in our UK VetMOVE programme).
Looking only for new graduate programmes
Many vets moving to the UK have no UK experience and also have limited experience in their own country. That’s actually one of the main reasons why they want to move to the UK, to develop their skills, right? Just like them, you probably really want a supportive job and know that there are “new graduate programmes” in the UK, which are jobs where you have a training programme. So maybe you also start to look at these and forget about everything else.
However, new graduate programmes are offered by corporates (and some rare independents) and they are proper working contracts with a lot of small print on them, which most vets are completely unaware of. For instance, most new graduate programmes make you stay in the job for two years. What happens if you want to leave earlier (say, you get an internship at the university)? You have to pay to leave the new graduate programme. This is just an example of the small print that you may find, and every new graduate programme is different.
However, there are many other small clinics looking for vets that don’t have a formal new graduate programme and will still be able to offer you support. Sadly, many clinics are understaffed and don’t have this ability. Even the new graduate programmes are full of graduates that left well before they were due because they didn’t get what was promised.
Luckily, you no longer need to rely on new graduate programmes to get support, as we run UK VetMOVE, the only support programme created specifically for non-UK trained vets which you can decide to join.
Looking for a job to develop skills instead of developing skills to look for a job
This is something much more relevant since Covid-19 and it relates to the fact that many new graduates are currently trying to move abroad. You have to realise that you’re at the “bottom” of the food chain in the industry right now, competing in a market filled with much more experience and availability than you and less jobs than ever. It’s much easier for you to develop key skills and highlight them properly on applications that have been done well than to search for jobs with little to show on your CV. Right now, investing in these skills is a better idea than in the past and will help you get a better job from the get-go, which is quite important if you’re planning on staying in the UK for a limited period of time to develop your skills (you won’t have time to waste in a series of bad jobs!). It’s not hard either – we run a training programme called UK VetMOVE which focuses on developing practical skills especially tailored to the UK market.
Trying to do the move without appropriate help
A lot of vets that I speak to tell me two things: “I wish I had known about UK VetMove when I was moving” and “The difficult part wasn’t so much finding the job, it was everything else”. The truth is, when you persist, when you have skills, when you get good with job applications, you will eventually find a job. Maybe not a good job, maybe not what you want, but good enough to make you accept it and move to the UK. That’s when it starts… you’re worrying about the new job, but now you also have to worry about the house, getting internet, saving enough money, get a car, insurance, tax ID, bank accounts, and even where is the isle of the grocery store where you can find the milk you like (oh boy, if you don’t like fresh milk you will totally get my pain the first time you visit a supermarket!).
Doing the move to a new country with some friends cheering you on and your family calling you to ask if you’re already found a place can result in some very stressful situations during those rough few weeks. You don’t need to waste time and money trying to figure it out by trial and error, make sure you have someone that can give you appropriate advice so you can find a house quickly and settle in, or that your clinic is helping you with these. If not, speak to us. Our signature programme, UK VetMOVE, is also a relocation package that turns your immigration process into a smooth ride.
Trying to cope with the new job after getting it alone
This is a massive mistake and the number one reason for vets to leave their newly found job in the first year, often in the first 6 months. Think about it, you will already get nervous in your first job anyway, but if you’re doing it in a new language, new country, completely alone, you will feel clueless. You will make mistakes and you will feel bad about them. You will try to cope with this, but you will soon realise your practice may not be very helpful – a lot of times, practices don’t know how to deal with cultural differences and help overseas vets with their adaptation. In many, the management system will provide you little clues as to what you’re doing wrong and how to improve. This quickly starts a cycle where you feel unheard and unsupported, more and more frustrated with your job. I have spoken to many vets who have said that they felt not only that they were not learning anything on their first job, but that they were actually becoming more and more insecure about their skills and knowledge (this was one of the reasons why I actually started UK VetMove in the first place).
What happens here is a series of events that we highlight on the Journey of the Veterinary Surgeon, particularly on the Initial Overwhelm stage and the Personal Rollercoaster. You can either prepare for this before you get the job (we do this on our training and relocation programme UK VetMOVE), or enlist some guidance for the bumpy ride if you’re already started working but are feeling lost. If you’re at this stage, feel free to make some time to have a free career development session with me to get some help.
Now that you are familiar with these mistakes, you know how to avoid them. If you’ve already done the move, comment below which of these you’ve made! I will get started with mine!