For individuals seeking to gain employment as veterinary technicians, creating an attractive and compelling resume is a vital step. Not only does an effective resume help demonstrate the job applicant’s qualifications, but it can often help demonstrate why he or she would be an asset to the veterinary clinic, laboratory or government agency the individual is seeking employment with.
Because of this, a compelling resume can often mean the difference between success and failure. Due to the fact that many companies prescreen resumes when considering what applicants to interview, a poor resume may result in the individual failing to obtain a job interview. In fact, it is the resume that will be the applicant’s first point of contact with a potential employer, whether it is a local veterinarian or the HR department of a major research laboratory.
Creating an Effective Resume Format
An effective resume is one that is easy to read, provides the information the employer is looking for, and effectively communicates the applicant’s strengths.
Ensuring that the resume format contributes to this goal is a vital part of crafting a resume that can help the individual find the employment he or she desires.
Preferred Employer Formats
The first and most important step is to determine if the employer has any standardized or preferred resume format.
Many employers will post their resume requirements online or otherwise make the information available to the applicants. An applicant should always conform to the employer’s desired resume format. In many cases, failing to do so may see the resume and the job application disposed of without ever being considered.
One important format question will be whether or not the employer will accept electronic submissions. A growing number of employers are coming to prefer or even require resumes to be submitted electronically.
In this case, the applicant should carefully examine the submission guidelines, including whether the resume can be submitted as an attachment file to an email or must be submitted separately. In addition, the file format must be one that the employer can accept. A resume submitted in a non-standard format or one the employer does not normally accept will often be deleted without being read.
In addition, a resume should always include page numbers and the applicant’s name on the header of every page. Should a page become separated from the resume, this makes it easier for the employer to reassemble the resume. This can be especially important for individuals who are seeking employment with a large company where the resume may pass through a number of departments.
If the resume is submitted by fax, the cover sheet should always include the applicant’s name and address and the name and department of the individual who is supposed to receive the resume.
Using Section Headers
It is important to use section headers for the resume. Headers make it easy for any reader to quickly find the information that they are seeking, making it more likely that the resume will receive favorable consideration. Common types of section headers include the following:
- Educational Qualifications.
- Work experience and achievements.
- Relevant volunteer experience.
- Professional and personal references.
Choosing a Text Font
A common resume mistake is to choose and overly fancy or difficult to read font for section headers and body text alike. In general, a resume should only use common fonts such as Times New Roman in order to make reading the resume as easy as possible. Avoid the use of complex handwriting style fonts, as they often become unreadable if the resume is copied or printed out on a lower quality office printer.
Creating Compelling Resume Content
While properly formatting and submitting a resume is vital in ensuring that it will be reads, it is the content that will ensure that the applicant is hired. Resume content must be succinct, truthful and above all, compelling. The applicant’s resume is attempting to convince the potential employer that the applicant will be a credit to the company.
[ photo credit: Rational Flaneur – used with permission ]
Avoiding Generic Resumes
An applicant should avoid the temptation to simply create a single resume and then send it out to a number of employers. Generic resumes often have less of an impact than those crafted specifically for the recipient, even if they may technically comply with the company’s submission guidelines. Even if the differences are primarily cosmetic, the reader will quickly notice the difference between a resume that has been specifically written for him or her and a generic resume.
This is especially true for veterinary medicine. When preparing a resume for a specific clinic or business, the applicant should take care to note if the organization specializes in any given area of veterinary care and work to adapt the resume to that specific field. For example, a clinic specializing in large animal care will have different needs and require different types of information than an urban clinic that provides care for small and exotic pets.
Avoiding Overly Lengthy Resumes
A common error is to assume that a long resume is automatically a good resume. The individual reading the resume, whether they are the owner of a small veterinary clinic or the HR department of a large organization, usually have a limited amount of time to evaluate each resume. An unnecessarily long resume may be ignored in favor of shorter submissions. Because the individual is seeking a job as a veterinary technician, unrelated information should be limited or omitted from the resume.
For example, most veterinarians will find membership data about high school and college clubs that were unrelated to veterinary care unimportant and may feel that the author is attempting to “pad” the resume with unnecessary information.
An applicant’s previous professional experience is one of the most important things employers look for and evaluate. Including this information in the resume is vital and gives the applicant a chance to expand on the information he or she has provided in the job application. The information for previous jobs the individual has held should include the following:
- The address and contact information for the business and the individual’s supervisor.
- How long did the applicant work at the previous job, and what were the beginning and ending dates of employment.
- The individual’s duties and responsibilities while employed.
- Any job related skills obtained during the period of employment.
- Any commendations or awards from the employer.
- The reason for leaving any previous employment positions.
The applicant should include all of his or her previous jobs, whether or not they were in the field of veterinary technology. It is important to also note and explain any extended periods of unemployment, for example, due to medical issues or the need to take time off to care for a family member.
Finally, if the applicant was terminated or resigned at the request of the employer, he or she should carefully consider what information to provide to a potential employer. In most cases, previous employers are limited in what they can say to individuals seeking a job reference.
However, it is important to be truthful about any job related events when communicating with a potential employer. For this reason, the applicant should be honest about the reasons for leaving his or her previous jobs.
Educational and Professional Qualifications
In addition to a comprehensive veterinary care work history, it is important to include any information relating to the individual’s professional qualifications in the field of veterinary technology. Among the information that should be included is the following:
- License information, including the license number and expiration date, as well as contact information for the issuing agency.
- Any previous licenses that have been issued by other states.
- Any voluntary certifications or specializations, along with the issuing agency.
- Any related fields or educational experience that may impact the individual’s ability to provide high quality veterinary care to the animals he or she is working with.
- Any personal development that may relate to the field, such as a course of independent study in veterinary science.
Volunteer Work and Hobbies
Many employers are currently looking for self-directed individuals and volunteer work is an excellent way to demonstrate this character trait. Working at a local clinic or humane society on a volunteer basis is an excellent item to include in a compelling resume.
In addition, applicants with little professional experience can use references from volunteer organizations as a way to demonstrate their skill and reliability. In addition, many veterinary care volunteer organizations include a number of veterinary professionals who may be willing to be listed as a professional reference in the job application and resume alike.
Finally, if the applicant has been unemployed for a long period, working with volunteer organizations is an excellent way to demonstrate that he or she is still involved in the veterinary care field. This will often increase the chance that an individual will be hired, even if he or she has suffered from a period of long-term unemployment.
Hobbies, especially animal related hobbies, can also be useful to include on a resume. An individual who enjoys horseback riding can use that hobby to demonstrate that they are capable of handling large animals. Other hobbies may indicate that the applicant has other strengths that the employer may value.
In addition to learning about the individual’s professional and educational qualifications, most businesses want to know about their personal qualities or what distinguishes them from other applicants. This is often a difficult question for many individuals who wish to showcase their strengths without seeming to be arrogant or dishonest.
In general, it is best to be upfront about personal strengths, especially if they relate to the duties of a veterinary technician. Such traits include being capable of handling responsibility without the need for direct supervision, and the ability to develop a healthy working relationship with superiors and coworkers alike. The applicant should be certain to be honest about this, as in many cases, the question of personal qualities will come up during the in person hiring interview.
Reviewing and Rewriting
After the resume is complete, it must be reviewed for grammar and spelling errors and if necessary, rewritten to rectify any issues. The applicant should never trust the spell and grammar checkers that most modern word processing programs include. For example, most spell checkers will not flag homonyms such as their and there, which are words that sound the same but that have different meanings and spellings. Because of this, simply relying on an automated spell checker may result in a resume that is confusing or amateurish in appearance.
Additionally, it is often wise to have another individual review the resume before sending it out to a potential employer. This can be a family member, a coworker, or a friend. If possible, the reviewer should have some experience in the field of veterinary medicine or human relations (HR) as both of those fields will make it easier for the reader to evaluate the resume’s strengths and weaknesses.
Professional Resume Writing Services
Finally, some individuals may find it best to secure the services of a professional resume writing service. Someone who feels that their writing skills are unequal to writing a compelling resume can use a resume writing service to help them create an effective resume. These services vary in price, and the applicant must work closely with them in order to ensure that the final resume is acceptable before sending it out potential employers.
Updating and Storing the Resume
Finally, an individual should always make certain to update their resume. Whenever they are hired, obtain a new certification or change their location, the resume should be updated to reflect this information. If an individual has sent resumes out to possible employers, it may be wise to resubmit the amended resume, especially if the change is a major one, such as becoming certificated by a professional veterinary body.
In addition, it is important that the resume be stored in a safe manner. In most cases, the resume file should have multiple backups, including off site backups such as those provided by cloud storage services. This ensures that the resume cannot be lost to accident or disaster, forcing the owner to rewrite the entire resume.
Ultimately, a resume is one of the first things a potential employer sees. Because of this, it is imperative that the resume effectively convey the applicant’s strengths and experience in order to demonstrate that he or she will be a benefit to the company. By doing so, the resume can help ensure that the in person interview begins with the interviewer having a positive impression of the applicant’s skills.
Especially in today’s economic environment, having an effective resume can help veterinary technicians, whether they are a newly graduated individual just entering the job market or an older professional who is moving to a new area, obtain a professionally and personally rewarding position as a veterinary technician.