ven if you plan to stay in the veterinary industry for the duration of your working life, it is a good idea to take an inventory of your skills on a regular basis and maintain an up to date CV. Should you ever need to look for a new job in another industry – even if only on a temporary basis - a relevant CV will make the process much easier.
This article contains an overview of the skills and qualities you will be able to develop, whilst working as a veterinary support assistant. It is also sensible to keep a log book of significant events that took place at work, as this will provide you with material when it comes to answering job interview questions that ask you to give the interviewer real life examples.
Customer service is a key skill you will have developed in your time working within a veterinary practice. This skillset will leave you in a great position to succeed in customer facing roles, such as retail. Your experience in working with pet owners who are facing difficult decisions and emotional upheaval will stand you in good stead for dealing with customers who are irritated, disappointed, or wish to make a complaint about a product or service they have found to be unsatisfactory.
You will have developed the ability to quickly identify the source of a problem and make suggestions as to how it could be resolved to everyone’s satisfaction.
Customer service within a veterinary practice is not restricted to in-person interactions. Throughout the course of your employment, you will probably have had to deal with customers via the telephone and email and may have needed to pass on sensitive and upsetting information. If you have successfully handled this kind of situation, then you have demonstrated that you can communicate confidential and emotionally charged information whilst under pressure. This will be an asset in careers that involve seeing people through challenging periods in their lives, such as those involving house sales and legal affairs.
Working as part of a team
Working as part of a veterinary team will also have taught you how to remain calm under pressure. This will make you an asset in any busy working environment, but especially in roles where the stakes are high – in a control room, for example, or in a role whereby you have to make a lot of financial transactions very quickly.
If you have worked in a support role during surgical procedures, you will also have proven your ability to take direction and pay attention to detail in emergency situations. Such experience also demonstrates that you are capable of remaining focused over a long period of time, which is an asset if you are applying for a job in which you would be required to perform complex processes.
If you have worked for a practice that takes a modern approach to marketing by using social media and community outreach, you may have picked up some desirable transferable skills via your involvement in these activities. For example, if you have volunteered to maintain the practice’s Facebook page, this will have given you experience in social media management and digital marketing. If you have helped organise community events, such as drop-in advice sessions or free workshops on common illnesses which affect a certain type of pet, this will have given you experience in event coordination and working as part of a team.
Using your own initiative
Although a veterinary support assistant is usually considered a junior member of a veterinary team, there are likely to be times that require you to use your initiative to solve problems or seek out further advice and support from a veterinary nurse or surgeon.
Make a note of these events – how they arose, the choices you had to make, what you did and what you would do differently next time around – and be ready to talk about them in a job interview, when asked to describe a time that you had to use your personal judgement.
Following the rules
In your role as a veterinary support assistant, you will have worked in accordance with many pieces of legislation. This demonstrates that you are able to understand complex rules and procedures, whilst adhering to strict safety guidelines, which is a valuable skillset to have, if you wish to work in jobs involving a significant degree of physical danger. It also shows that you are a conscientious worker, who is likely to do things the “right way”, rather than taking shortcuts. For example, you may have been asked to clean surgical equipment in your previous role, which requires a meticulous approach to ensure patient safety.
In conclusion, veterinary support assistants possess many skills which make them good candidates for jobs across numerous sectors. If you are looking to apply for a job which will take you down a new career track, rest assured that you already have a desirable skillset, which will make you an attractive prospect for many employers.
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