Written by Lianne Mellin

The job application process – it’s a little bit scary, a little bit stressful, and a little bit exciting! You’re reaching the end of your studies and realising that now is the time to start applying for jobs, but how do you go about it?

There were many things I asked myself during this process so I thought I’d write about them in order to share my experience in the hopes that it helps you and gives you a bit of clarity!

First up, I think the most important thing you should do for yourself is write down your goals and what you hope to get out of your new job. For me, I know that my passions lie mostly in lifestyle animals (farm animals kept as pets, especially camelids) but I also really want to improve on my surgery skills of both “smallies” and “largies” and develop my ultrasonography skills. For me, this means I want to work as a mixed animal general practitioner. I also know that I, like a lot of new graduates now days, value mentorship immensely. I want to go into a practice with a dedicated mentor and programme to ensure that I am getting the most out of my first year out in practice. Once you know what you want out of a job, you can start searching.

Do you go through recruitment agencies or do you go about searching for jobs yourself?

I think that’s really up to you! If you know of jobs on offer through word of mouth or through working at practices during placement or as a part-time job, by all means, apply directly. Otherwise, if you’re struggling to find job offers yourself, go through recruitment agencies. There are also many different job seeking websites online for you to use. LinkedIn is a great way to show potential employers more about you. Take the time to fill in each of the elements and connect with people you know and/or have worked with in the past. 

Now that you’ve found a job you’re interested in, it’s time to apply… What do you need to have ready?

You’ll need a CV, cover letter and some referees. There are many different CV formats and a lot of information online with recommendations on how to write the best CV for you. Make sure your CV is easy to read. Most of the time employers skim through them, so it’s crucial to have your most important information on the first page. It’s very helpful to have headings and an easy to read layout. The majority of “how to write a good CV” articles I’ve read recommend to ensure your CV is only 2-3 pages long so ensure you are concise but still share how great you are!

I sent my CV to my parents for proof reading, to a trusted lecturer for editing and to my university’s student guidance counsellor for fine-tuning before using it to officially apply for jobs. Most job applications require a cover letter as part of the application. I highly recommend researching the company prior to writing this as it’s your opportunity to show them why you’re a fan of them and why you’d be a great fit. Keep this to one page and really emphasise why you are interested in the role and the company.

For me, I found asking people to be my referee slightly scary and, as it turns out, so did many of my friends!

I was worried that I would be inconveniencing them and I guess I was somewhat worried about being rejected. In the end, I found that just biting the bullet and asking people “straight up” (keeping it professional and polite) was the best way to go about it!Turns out, they’re often excited about being asked. I’d recommend having at least two referees for your application. Sometimes you need to have these at the end of your CV but other times the application process asks for them in a separate section. 

With your application finalised and sent in, all you have to do is wait for an interview! Remember to be yourself when you do have your interview (you will get at least one interview, I’m sure of it). Don’t forget that the practice needs you as much as you need them so stand up for what you believe in and nail it… Good luck.

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Lianne Mellin
Fifth Year Veterinary Student (BVSc Hons)
The University of Queensland