Finding a job in the UK is not easy, but finding a job that you can perform adequately is a bit more tricky. And once you find that job, you then need to be able to “sell” yourself to the employer. So this article is going to focus on a few tips to help you create a really good job application.
Know your strengths and weaknesses
In order for you to get the right job, you need to know what you can do, what you struggle with and what you want for your career. You should really give it a good thought!
I suggest you start by picturing where you want to be in terms of your career in one year and in five years. It is fundamental that you describe how you expect to feel as you achieve your career goals. Write it down!
This exercise is fundamental for you to do something very important and hard – learn to say “no” to job offers that don’t help you achieve your goals.
Once you know what you want your career to look like, you should think about three things: things you’re good at (your strengths), things you struggle with (your weaknesses) and things you want to improve (what you need to work on). I recommend you write these down and look at that list before you go to any job interviews and also during your job search.
However, remember – your “weaknesses” are not there to tear you down and you don’t have to volunteer that information. Your “weaknesses” serve as a guiding beacon for what you don’t want to perform on a role (let’s say one of your weaknesses is getting very nervous during surgery – you probably want to avoid a surgery-biased role!).
Do direct outreach
This is something unusual in many countries, but you will be surprised to hear how well this works in the UK!
If you know you are going to move to a certain area, or if you find a place that you like and you would like to work for them, pick up the phone, call them and ask them if they have any vacancies available. If they do, ask who you could send your job application to. You can really get jobs like that, provided you have the right skills, of course!
Calling a practice shows you are interested, you’re not afraid to talk to them and already gives them an idea about your level of English. They will usually remember you if you have called in advance and are more likely to look through your application.
Get your CV right
Writing a CV for the UK is likely not the same as writing a CV for jobs in your own country. The first thing to do is to use the “personal statement” area to provide a good overview of who you are as a person, not just as a professional. A personal statement is something that is often absent from other CV templates, but it does not reflect well on you to miss that in a UK CV.
The other common mistake overseas applicants make is adding a lot of information about extra training, events and conferences that they’ve attended. While in many countries this makes you look good, it usually adds nothing to a UK CV because training is mandatory, so every vet does it. The exception is if you have certified training or if you have specific training in an area that is relevant for the job (for instance, you have a Certificate in Soft Tissue Surgery from Improve International and are applying for a job where they are looking for a vet with surgical experience). In other cases, drop the training and formations and instead add your “skills”. Skills are often overlooked on other CVs, but for a vet, this is your way to show your soft skills, such as language, communication and adaptability.
You can read more information about how to create your CV here.
Your cover letter is your red carpet
While in many countries there is no real requirement to send in a cover letter or letter of intent, this is the most fundamental part of your job application. Your cover letter has one goal – make the person on the other side open your CV. For them to do that, you have to bring your personality and create positive emotions. Choose the language you use carefully and make sure you have no English mistakes. You want to highlight that you’ve paid attention to what they are looking for and that you can provide them exactly that.
You should treat any email text you send for the first time as a cover letter. That means you should also craft that email that you are sending with your CV attached very carefully to increase your chances of having the other person think “wow, (s)he looks like a nice person”.
It is not unusual for employers to hire vets with less skills that are a better personality fit for the team!
Use the interview to see if you like the place
You may feel very grateful that someone has offered you a job. However, don’t accept it if it doesn’t feel right!
The job interview is the step that often scares us most. This often connects to our need to please and our fear of rejection. However, you will likely find a job interview much more tolerable if you remind yourself that you are not there to be assessed and judged and you are being given an opportunity to see if you would like to work at that place. Job interviews are an invaluable way for you to learn about the practice and see how the team works, as well as experience the environment you are likely to experience if you end up working there. If you go to a job interview that seems to be going really well but you don’t like how vets and nurses treat each other or how the boss speaks to other vets, or the way that the treatments are being performed, then you still won’t like that when you start working and you will very quickly resent that place and start looking for another.
Don’t ignore your guts!