Written by Dr Lianne Mellin

Whether you’re just starting your veterinary journey, or almost finished vet school, what you’re about to read is definitely going to help you. It’s the part that vet school mentions, but often only briefly discusses due to the need to teach you actual vet stuff – it’s the “how to write a good CV, cover letter and add to your contract” lecture you’ve been missing!

Let’s start with your CV. I went with a more “modern professional” look as opposed to an “arty” format. Either is fine; it depends on you as a person and on the job you’re applying for. Whatever you do, make sure it is clear. Keep in mind, employers are often looking through multiple applications so if yours is easy to read, they’re more likely to spend time on it.

Ensure your name and contact details are at the top of the first page. I wrote a small personal statement next which quickly and confidently discussed who I was and what I was after. If you have veterinary related social media, I recommend including hyperlinks to these in your personal statement. Don’t be afraid to show them off- veterinary clinics are trying to build their social media presence so seeing you’re capable of helping them do this may give you that extra edge.

Again, I want to reiterate how important it is to set your CV out so that it is clear. For example, break it up into sections such as “industry experience” and “non-industry experience.” The headings I use are: Education, Industry Experience, Non-Industry Employment and Volunteering, Memberships, Exra-Curricular Activities and Referees (in that order).

From there, order each point by date from present to past. Bold headings and job roles but keep descriptions about the roles in normal text so employers can read more if they’re interested. Ideally keep your CV at two to three pages long.

For cover letters, I use what I affectionately call the”cover letter sandwich”. Use a formal letter format for this (Google it if you need to – I did!) and then break your paragraphs up into: who you are, why you like the workplace and why you’re perfect for the role. Then, end off with a quick wrap up and drive it home!

I’m not going to go into the actual interview, but I’ll quickly recommend researching the STAR method. “Behavioural Based Job Interview Questions” on explains this very well and is worth the read.

Once you’ve nailed your CV, cover letter and job interview, the next step will be your contract. Most contracts are fairly stock-standard but don’t be afraid to add things to it. 

I’m a strong believer that mentorship is incredibly important. If this isn’t already part of your contract, I highly recommend discussing with your employer about what mentorship looks like to you and adding it! I also added that my consults would initially be less complicated and double the time of the practice’s normal consults. This would remain until I was comfortable and we reviewed it weekly. I recommend writing a list of important criteria for your first job and prioritise what you want to add to your contract. Double check to see if things like your Annual Practicing Certificate (APC) and memberships such as Plumb’s, VIN and NZVA are paid for by your job too!

Now, go out there and get that job… Good luck!

If you need any help, I’m only a direct message away. Find me at @yourvetlianne on all social media!

(Disclaimer: I’m not a professional at “how to get a job,” but I did have multiple professionals look over my CV and cover letters before I sent them out in order to get feedback on them. As such, I got a job that I love and feel as though I should pass on what I learnt.)