Find your new graduate now, before they’re snapped up

Posted on January 30, 2019 by Lizzie Bewsey-Dyke

When I graduated in 2014, it was common to wait until after exams to start looking for our first jobs; but graduate recruitment patterns have changed dramatically over the past few years. 

I regularly go to university careers fairs and I love chatting to final year vet students about their university experience and their career aspirations. I’m constantly impressed by their enthusiasm for the profession and I’ve found that final year vet students are much more engaged with the process of selecting their first employer than I ever was! I think this is partly driven by more careers teaching and support at universities, but also helped by the current difficulty in recruiting experienced vets, leaving new graduates in high demand and so able to choose their first job carefully.

In my opinion it’s brilliant that new graduates can be selective about their first job, but it does mean that recruiting one is getting harder and it will continue to do so until the wider recruitment crisis settles. 

Another factor which has completely changed the recruitment landscape is the development of graduate schemes. In the last 10 years all the corporate groups have developed well-respected programmes, consisting of support and CPD, seeing huge numbers of soon-to-be graduates apply to be on these schemes every year. The graduate schemes encourage or require vet students to apply in early spring of their final year and this means that many young vets have already secured jobs by the time they take their finals.

Considering these changes, I recommend that practices looking to employ a new graduate this summer start thinking about recruitment now.

What are graduates looking for in their first job in practice?

Support

It is clear from meeting other young vet friends and from students at university that the key thing that graduates are almost unanimously looking for early in their career is good support. The level of support on offer can be difficult to gauge in a job interview and of course, whilst every practice will say “we’re friendly and supportive”, it’s difficult to know how that will translate into measurable support when the graduate starts work.

I think this is why the graduate schemes are so popular – we already have over 200 final year vets on our mailing list waiting to hear about vacancies at practices who are offering the Grads to Vets scheme. The graduate schemes offer measurable, structured support as well as specially designed CPD. However, I know that even with a good graduate scheme the job can still be a disaster if the practice doesn’t deliver on its promise of being friendly and supportive.

Rota

Last year around over two thirds of the graduates I met were looking for a job with a practice that ran their own out-of-hours. From speaking to graduates they are usually keen to be involved in emergency work because of the unique and invaluable experience that this gives them, BUT they do want support. New graduates rightly expect to be gradually initiated into a rota and have a second vet on-call as a back-up whilst they are on-call. Making your support provisions clear to graduates in adverts and at interview will make your job much more appealing.

Focusing on the support and experiences you are offering will help your appeal to new graduates.  If you get this right, you will not only receive more applications but also see improvements in retention and productivity.

Grads to Vets

In 2018, Grads to Vets launched its partnership with BVA. Grads to Vets offers a year-long graduate programme that any practice can enrol their graduate onto. The aim of the scheme is to support the graduate through their first year with mentoring, coaching, peer group networking, and a specially designed CPD programme.

The scheme is very popular with job-seeking graduates and so we are offering free job advertising to practices looking for a new graduate to enrol.

More information about the scheme can be found on the Grads to Vets website.

Lizzie Bewsey-Dyke

Written by Lizzie Bewsey-Dyke

MA VetMB MRCVS, Managing Director, Grads to Vets

Lizzie is a 2014 Cambridge graduate and has worked as a small animal vet ever since. In 2018 she founded Grads to Vets with the aim of providing a graduate scheme that catered for independent practices and she now runs the scheme in partnership with the BVA alongside her clinical work.