Animal Career Job Search Tips

You can maximize your chances of finding a position in the animal industry by following a few simple guidelines:

Research potential employers

Women working in veterinary hospital
John Wood Photography/The Image Bank/Getty Images

Try to choose a few businesses that you would like to work for and spend some time learning about them before you send in an application.  Follow the business on Twitter, like their Facebook account, try to find connections on LinkedIn, and subscribe to their online newsletter or blog.  Read everything that is available on their website.  When you apply for a position there you will have a leg up on the competition if you can demonstrate that you know a lot about their business.

Customize each cover letter

Do your best to find out to whom you should address your cover letter.  Try speaking with the receptionist or searching the the company's website.  Try not to use the generic “To Whom It May Concern” or “Dear Sir or Madam” opening lines unless you can't find specific contact information.  Also try to include something in the cover letter that shows you are familiar with the business.  This can make a big difference.

Look for hidden job opportunities

Many animal careers are not formally advertised in the newspaper or on web-based job sites.  These opportunities are part of the hidden job market, and you may only find out about them through word of mouth, referrals, and local trade associations.  Introduce yourself to as many employers as possible so you will be a candidate for any future openings. You have to be proactive to find jobs in the current market.

Craft multiple resumes

Make sure the resume you submit to an employer emphasizes your skill set for that specific job.  If a job listing asks for particular skills or abilities be sure you have highlighted those relevant qualifications in your resume.  Don’t assume that one resume will fit all potential job listings.  Take the time to customize each one.

Point out transferable skills

If you are trying to transition from a position as a horse groom to one as a vet tech, for example, highlight the medical skills you learned from working in the barns such as administering medications, bandaging legs, treating wounds, and giving shots.  If a vet tech is trying to find a pharmaceutical sales rep job, they should point out their knowledge of medicine and customer service.  For those coming from a non-animal related career, be sure to mention any volunteer work you may have done with animals and any skills which will make you a strong candidate.

Consider temp or part time jobs

Sometimes you can’t find a full-time job right away.  Try signing up with an employment agency or look for a part time position.  Once you have the temporary position you can showcase your abilities and potentially turn it into a full-time opportunity.  Even if the job doesn’t end up being a long-term fit, you will be earning a paycheck and gaining valuable experience that you can use on your resume.

Network via social media

It is very important to use Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to make connections that can help you with your job search.  Use the various social media outlets to make contact with old business associates, classmates, and professors.  Also, be sure that the photos displayed on your sites are appropriate.  Many employers look at social media as a part of their selection process and you want to put your best foot forward.

Study your industry

Read trade publications, visit relevant websites, and stay informed about current events that could impact your field of interest.  It is also wise to join professional associations, as these groups may alert members to job opportunities that have not been widely publicized.

Consider relocation

You may have to move to a different location to find the right opportunity, especially if you are working in a highly specialized field.

Prepare for your interview

Your resume gets you in the door, but it is up to you to sell your abilities once you get there.  Practice your answers to standard interview questions and come up with a few questions to ask your interviewer.