Struggling to recruit? You are not alone

29 July 2015

We have found evidence that recruitment problems are widespread in practices across the country. The BVA Voice of the Veterinary Profession survey Spring 2015 revealed that the majority of practices who had recently tried to recruit vets had struggled to find suitable candidates. 

Two thirds of practices looking to recruit in the last year took more than three months to fill their vacancies for veterinary surgeons. Of these, 10% took more than six months and 7% were forced to withdraw the role because of a lack of suitable candidates.

The problem was particularly severe among small animal practices, where nearly a quarter (23%) saw posts remain empty for more than six months. A fifth (19%) were eventually forced to withdraw roles. Production animal veterinary roles also proved challenging to fill, with almost a fifth (19%) remaining empty for more than three months.

John Blackwell, President of British Veterinary Association, said:

“We’ve been hearing a lot about recruitment issues from veterinary practices across the country and I know from experience how challenging it can be to find the right candidate. These figures confirm that anecdotal evidence, showing that many colleagues are struggling to fill posts. 

“This is a complicated issue and we suspect there are a range of different factors that converge to create this situation. We know there are many talented and experienced vets out there and yet recruitment remains a challenge for many.

“We believe that issues around out-of-hours requirements, support, work/life balance and flexible working all factor into candidates’ decision not to apply for or accept certain roles. It’s not simply a case of employers offering higher salaries.”

Of those who had advertised a vacancy, nearly a third (32%) had received three or fewer applications per post. They listed difficulties at every stage of the recruitment process:

  • Lack of applications (58%)
  • No suitable candidates at CV stage (55%)
  • No suitable candidates at interview stage (30%)
  • Candidate declined offer (18%)
  • Other (9%)

The challenges were not limited to recruitment of new graduates. Most often, practices who had taken more than three months to fill posts were not looking for recent graduates (9%), but for vets with between one and three years’ experience (34%) or more than three years’ experience (49%).

Simon Devitt, Director of BMJ Careers, said:

“This is a difficult recruitment market and we know that some practices are really struggling to recruit vets. At Vet Record Careers we advise recruiters to emphasise the benefits of working for their particular practice; including flexibility, transport, accommodation, training, progression as well as the salary on offer.”

BVA supports veterinary recruitment for its members through Vet Record Careers. BVA members receive a discount of 20% on all recruitment advertising with Vet Record and the jobs site

Further information

The Spring 2015 survey was completed by 720 BVA members between 13 April and 6 May 2015. Recruitment questions were asked of 160 BVA’s Voice of the Veterinary Profession who had advertised vacancies within the last 12 months.   

BVA Media Office