How do you know if it’s time to change vet clinics? What do you do if it is?

Changing jobs is a huge decision – not something to rush into or take lightly.

15 signs it’s time to change vet clinics

Dread Mode – By the time Sunday night comes around, you’re in “dread mode” – you dread going to work on Mondays

Time drags – you struggle to immerse yourself and be in the zone like you used to

Little things have become big things – Little things start getting you down and you no longer believe in the clinic like you used to … favouritism, perhaps things don’t get fixed fast – it’s always been like that but now it starts to get you down … there’s never any money for upgrades – that didn’t bother you before but now it’s really starting to grind you down.

Imminent Implosion – There’s no sense of team or unity and it feels like everything is about to implode.  There’s no leadership – everyone’s pulling in different directions and/or allowed to get away with blue murder – tardiness, not following SOPs, lateness, questionable ethics, bullying

Getting left behind professionally – You feel like you’re not growing professionally and there’s little chance of anything changing in the near future.  You could do your current role with your hands tied behind your back and blindfolded – there’s no longer the challenge of growing and/or doing better

You feel invisible …unappreciated… taken for granted

Technology is advancing but you’re getting left behind

Everything feels like a fight – You have to fight and argue for CPD investment

Out of balance life – Your life is totally out of balance, out of whack, out of kilter

Remuneration Package – You no longer feel you’re being recompensed / rewarded for what you’re doing – on-call, after hours, etc

You’ve become disengaged – You often think things like “what’s the point?”, “why do I bother?” “what’s going to change?”, “why am I here?”

Left behind – You see others getting ahead, getting the good jobs, getting the CPD but you’re being left behind

Incremental changes have taken place you don’t like – Your role has slowly morphed into something you don’t like / want to do and you have no idea how that happened … little tweaks over time and you’re where you are now

Self Destructive Behaviours – You’ve noticed an uptake in your personal life of things that don’t support you in being the best you can be:  weight gain / excessive loss, smoking, drugs, alcohol, depression, apathy, and other self-destructive behaviours

They couldn’t pay you enough to stay – Even if your salary was increased by 50% or 100% you’d still feel the same way about what you’re doing / where you’re doing it

Next steps if any of the above symptoms ring true for you

If you recognise any of the above symptoms it’s time to sit down and re-evaluate things.   If you’re a veterinarian, veterinary nurse or veterinary tech, you’re unlikely to ever be unemployed.  However, that doesn’t mean you need to take the first job that’s offered you.  

Especially if you feel like all clinics are the same.   If that’s the case – you feel like you’re not good at making good career choices – then it’s time for you and I to have a serious chat about your expectations and, dare I say it, your attitude.  

Yes – sadly, there are some sucky veterinary clinics out there – but there are also some really amazing veterinary clinics that absolutely care about their teams.

There’s a saying:  we don’t see the world as it is, we see the world as we are.   I believe this – many people can be in exactly the same situation but experience it differently.   Therefore, if you keep going form sucky clinic to sucky clinic maybe it’s not the clinic – maybe it’s something that could change with you?   I realise that’s really controversial and some people won’t like that … if that’s you I just ask that you consider it as a possibility, that’s all.

4 steps you can take

#1 – look for what you do like

Sometimes when we’re caught up in stuff we don’t like, it’s hard to find even a little bit of joy … because the bad stuff just weighs us down.

When that happens it’s time to start looking for some good stuff.

It doesn’t matter what the good stuff is – find some and then hold onto that thought pattern.  Focussing on the negative just leads to more negative.

Start a page in your journal, open a file, start a note – something where you can write down what you enjoy about what you do now.

It could be the location of the clinic – that you can (maybe, just maybe) walk or ride to work.  

It might be the clients.

The toys.

The hours. 

No after hours or on call.

Your peers.

The fact that you’re working for a corporate OR an independent and whichever one of these it is, it’s THAT that lights you up.

The money or other part of your remuneration package. 

The layout of the clinic.

Something!   Find something and then build from there.

#2 – determine what your dream job looks like

If you don’t know what you’re looking for you won’t know when you find it.

Open another blank file, document or page and start writing down everything you’d like in your dream job.  

Be very specific.

Identify the aspects that are deal breakers for you.   For example, if you won’t consider anything under $-XX/hour then get very clear on that.   The reason for this is that you can start prioritising – you’ll be absolutely clear on what you’re prepared to negotiate on and what you’re not.

So start writing a list on what things your next move must be able to offer you.

#3 – identify what would need to change for you to stay

After you’ve identified the things that you enjoy about your current position AND you’ve got a list of what your next move looks like, where is the crossover?

Can you negotiate changing what you don’t like about your current position so IT becomes your dream job?

Obviously, some things are harder to change than others.   Cultural change takes a lot more effort and may be beyond the ability – or inclination – of the current management.  

Unless you’re an absolutely nightmarish employee who’s responsible for the toxic environment at your clinic, then it’s highly likely your current clinic would prefer to see whether changes can be made to keep you, rather than lose you.

As has already been discussed on other podcasts (eps 29 and 36) it costs a clinic somewhere between 2x and 4x an employee’s annual salary to replace them.  So you can see it’s in their advantage to make things work out for you.

#4 – Have a chat with your manager or PM or HR manager  

Before you go running to him or her with your problems though, spend some time looking at what possible solutions would be acceptable to you.   No one likes having a whole load of problems dumped on their desk but they’re more likely to listen with open ears if you come with solutions to each problem.

Also, by going armed with solutions, they’ll be solutions that you’ll like – not solutions someone else has come up with which you may not like.

First steps to get you ready for your next move

If, after all of the above, you decide it’s time to move on, then there are steps you can put in place before you start job-hunting:

  1. Dust the cobwebs off your CV – update your skills, technology, experience, responsibilities, CPD, qualifications
  2. Referees – start thinking about who your referees are going to be.   You don’t need to ask them until further down the track – check out ep 13 for more info on that
  3. Brush up your negotiation skills – check out ep 22 for that
  4. Know what your rights are at job interviews – check out ep 26 for that
  5. Check out your public-facing social media profiles – prospective employers will be checking you out online – before you start looking for your next job do a Google Search on yourself and make sure that everything a prospective employer might find stands you in good stead.  If not, ensure you update your privacy settings on all your social accounts.    At the same time make sure that your Linkedin profile matches your CV.
  6. Know what you’re worth in today’s market – sure you can ask around but the best place to know what your worth is via a recruitment agency.   Colleagues may pump up their own remuneration packages because they’re embarrassed about what they’re really on.   A veterinary specialist recruitment agency will be able to give you an honest answer that is current.   A generalist recruiter – someone who places anyone and everyone in any sector – for example, they’ll work in the entertainment sector, hair and beauty, human healthcare.   And, just for the record – VetStaff is NZs only NZ-owned, operated and based veterinary recruitment specialist.  There are other veterinary recruiters who work with NZ clinics, but they’re all offshore – overseas based.  We’re the only kiwi ones that really know the NZ market because this is the only market we work in.
  7. Contact a recruitment agency before you do anything else – this is really important.  We can only get you the best possible job if you contact us before you do anything else.   As soon as you hit APPLY with any of the online job boards we’re unable to help you at that clinic.  Seriously – if you want the best job with the best package then you need to get a recruitment agency in right at the beginning.  I’d love it to be VetStaff – but if it’s not us then make sure it’s one of our specialist competitors – because they’ll work on your behalf as well.   Once you hit the apply button it’s too late – there’s very little we can do for you because a clinic won’t work with us on your behalf after you’ve contacted them.

If you recognise any of the symptoms that it’s time to move on, please feel free to get in touch – even if it’s just for a chat – I’m happy to be your sounding board.

Over the last three years I’ve spent quite a bit of time on the phone with vets or nurses who were ready to chuck their job in because they’d had enough.  

Not all of them resigned.   In a couple of instances I knew their manager and, with their permission, I was able to talk to the clinic manager or owner and sort things out so that they didn’t resign.   The clinic ended up not having to start recruiting a replacement and the employee ended up with the job of their dreams which was where they already were.  Just with a few tweaks. 

There was nothing in it for us – we didn’t receive any fee for that – but because we believe in doing the right thing, that’s what we always do!

So please – get in touch in the first instance, eh?


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