There are many ways to find a new role.

The Open Market

Advertisements – the internet (both job and company websites), local press advertisements, trade journals and job centres all advertise roles in the open market. Most people focus on the open market.

Recruitment agencies – agencies can facilitate entry into a new role and are important part of the job market.

The Hidden Market

Networking – many jobs are never advertised but word of mouth is often a great opportunity to find out a new role.

Direct approach – approaching a potential employer and being in the right place at the right time involves planning but can find somebody the role that they are seeking.

The Open Market

Applying for roles that have been advertised

Analyse the job advertisement and do not be put off by jargon or elaborate language. It is easy to overlook vacancies that may be suitable or reject certain jobs because the advertisement seems very rigid in its requirements; whereas, in practice, they often are not as restricted.

Applying with a cover letter/e-mail and CV

These are very important as they can be used to demonstrate how you match the skills and experience needed for a role. A cover letter should:

•  indicate the job title and reference number for the position

•  draw attention to how well you fit with regard to the job requirements

•  highlight your relevant, skills and experience

•  be positive, clear and enthusiastic.

Applying using an application form DO

•  read the application pack first as some forms are complicated and you could put your response in the wrong place

•  use an electronic application form, if it is available, as you can store the information and recall if for future use if needed

•  complete the form neatly, legibly and accurately

•  take a copy of the original form and complete that first to avoid making mistakes on the final version

•  take a photocopy of the completed form before you submit it to the company

•  follow the instructions given – for instance, you may be asked not to send a CV

•  complete the additional information’ section to demonstrate how you match with the position using the job description and/or competency information provided by the company

•  use positive language when giving reasons for leaving previous roles

   such as, ‘career progression’ or company restructure’

•  mark any sections that do not apply to you as ‘not applicable’ to demonstrate you have not missed the section.


•  begin to complete the application form until you have read fully any accompanying information and understood all of the sections of the form

   underestimate how long it will take to complete the form and then rush it at the end in order to meet the closing date for submitting the application

   tell lies or embellish the truth

   submit the application late – many companies will not accept an application after the closing date

   send the form in with corrections or mistakes within it

   declare any information about pay if this is going to be subjective – suggest that this could be discussed at interview

   use negative language or emphasise any weaknesses you may have regarding your application

   send photographs or certificates unless they are specifically requested

   forget to sign and date the form.

Applying using a competency based approach

This approach still requires all of the usual standard information – contact details, previous employment and so on.

In addition to this information, applicants will need to provide evidence of competency in certain job-related areas –   for instance, you may be asked to write a section providing a recent example of how you have successfully contributed to team working.

 The applicant should be provided with the definition of the competencies being required and you should follow this closely when completing the relevant section.

Allow plenty of thinking, planning and writing time before the closing date for the position.

Recruitment agencies

Agencies provide a major route within the job market and can provide opportunities over and above advertised vacancies. Recruitment agencies are free to use as it is the employer who is advertising the vacancy who pays an agency fee when they successfully fill the role.

You will probably need to sign up with a few agencies that have expertise within your field. Look in the veterinary press for agencies or meet them when you attend the BVNA Congress.

Agency staff will probably want to meet with you once you have signed up and will require a copy of your CV, and may provide feedback.

The agency may also be able to suggest other career paths that you may not have thought about and will be able to provide you with the sort of positions they feel you are suited for and a salary range.

Agencies will know which organisations are recruiting and will be able to help you prepare for any interview and also provide feedback after the interview has been completed.

The Hidden Market


Networking is about getting to know people who can help develop your career and you can use this route to gather as much information as possible to help in your search for a new role.

Networking is a social skill. Detailed below are some rules that can help you to get it right:

   first impressions count – both face- to-face and also using either the telephone or social media sites. Stay alert and be well prepared

   never ask for a job directly – networking is not a ‘jobs fair’; so never ask for a job directly, use the opportunity to gain advice and gather information

   talk positively – practise how to talk about your situation in a positive manner

   give and take – this is a two-way process, so be prepared to help other people within your network

   listen carefully – to all of the advice, information and support you are being given, ask questions in order to gain the additional information you need

   carry out your research – find out about your contacts before meeting them and follow up on any leads you obtain

   think laterally – try to expand beyond the normal network in order to gain further information

   be patient – do not expect to get a new role after your first meeting; you may need to
be in contact for the long haul

   plan and organise – prioritise your networking to ensure it does not become anything more than socialising

   don’t leave it to others – whilst it is helpful for others to enquire on your behalf, try to make contact yourself

   follow up – always send a response and thank the person; you may also be able to remind them of any actions they were going to look into for you.

Direct approach

The benefits of this are that you gain an early opportunity before the role is advertised and an excellent chance to secure an interview before the role is put onto the open market.

The process you should follow is detailed below:

   research the job market in order to find openings that may be available

   draw up a list of potential employers for whom you wish to work

   carry out research for each employer prior to writing, in order to gain as much information about the potential employer

   write a target letter to the manager of the department that you want to work within. SB

For further support with this or any other HR issue, BVNA members can call the BVNA Members Advisory Service Helpline on 01822 870270


Nicky Ackerley BA(HONS)

Nicky Ackerley HR Support is owned by Nicky Ackerley who has a BA (Hons) Business Studies Degree, is a member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development and who has been a practising HR manager for over 20 years. HR Support Consultancy has provided the BVNA Members Advisory Service (formerly known as the Industrial Relations Service) since it began in 2002.

• VOL 29 • April 2014 • Veterinary Nursing Journal