Wanted: Veterinary Nurse
Are you finding it difficult to recruit veterinary nurses or need some tips on how to make your vacancies more appealing? Well, help is at hand.
Using research carried out by Lantra in conjunction with VN Times and further independent research by the RCVS, this article explores the key issues in how to attract candidates. It also aims to help individuals and their veterinary practices develop advertisements that are more appealing to their target audience, to further increase their chances of recruiting the right staff.
WHAT MAKES A WEAK JOB ADVERT?
Lantra's research showed that there did not appear to be a standard minimum level of information for each advert. There were a significant number of core gaps in vacancy information, which ultimately led to a weak job advert. These included:
- no phone number;
- no contact name;
- no practice name;
- only contact method was an email address;
- vague location – for example "all this in a beautiful part of north Norfolk"; and
- the term "competitive salary" is used rather than stating a specific salary or band.
The survey also questioned the value of comments such as "liking cakes" or "listening to Radio 1" to a potential applicant.
CREATING A GOOD JOB ADVERT
Ensuring that you get the right VN for your practice is the key objective for your advert. Therefore, if you do not include all the relevant information your practice may be overlooked by the perfect candidate.
Research into the veterinary nursing profession, carried out by the RCVS in 2008, highlighted a few of the issues and benefits that VNs find important, which could help you develop your recruitment adverts.
Out of 3,869 respondents, 97 per cent reported their practice provided them with a uniform; 25 per cent reported having a pension; nine per cent were given health insurance; and eight per cent were provided with accommodation. Just 13 per cent reported being provided with other benefits, including: reduced veterinary fees or pet insurance (six per cent of all respondents); training/CPD (four per cent); and dividends/practice profits (one per cent).
The research also highlighted that a high proportion of veterinary nurses were satisfied with the job they were doing, but there were stronger overall levels of disagreement on statements referring to flexible working, career progression, and the sense of being valued by the veterinary profession.
The findings from this research can act as a guide in helping to develop the perfect job advertisement as it highlights what VNs find important and so indicates what they may look for when searching for a new practice.
To find out more about the RCVS Survey of the Veterinary Nursing Profession 2008, visit www.rcvs.org.uk/surveys
DEFINING THE ROLE
It is important to define the role you are trying to fill and the level of qualification and registration/listing status required of the candidate. Do you need someone who can perform Schedule 3 tasks, for example? Or who has diploma-level skills in medicine or surgery?
Adverts that ask for a student/qualified/unqualified VN are not likely to appeal to anyone who has worked hard to attain their registered veterinary nurse status. They imply that either the practice has limited understanding of the qualification route or that the vacancy and job description have not been well thought through. If the practice is indeed looking for more than one VN with different levels of training and knowledge, this should be stated.
While age discrimination rules prevent adverts from specifying how many years' experience someone must have, it is very useful to state whether the person should be either a student or a listed/registered veterinary nurse. Asking for a "qualified" VN can be confusing – for example, does that person need to be able to carry out Schedule 3 tasks? In that case, he or she must be listed or registered as well as qualified. When you receive candidates' CVs it's also worth checking that the individual is indeed registered/listed – this can be quickly done online at www.rcvs.org.uk/vnlist.
Anecdotal evidence from the RCVS suggests that veterinary nursing job titles in practice are often confusing both to colleagues and, more importantly, the animal-owning public. For example, student veterinary nurses have been found in the post of "head nurse". The RCVS urges practices to ensure the job title reflects the experience and legal status that might be reasonably expected by the public. RCVS guidance also states that unqualified staff who carry out some nursing duties should not be referred to as veterinary nurses, but rather as veterinary nursing assistants (VNAs).
WHAT MAKES A GOOD JOB ADVERT?
Looking at the work carried out by Lantra, and in conjuction with VN Times and the RCVS, we have put together a few pointers to help create the perfect job advert that should attract the right staff to the right practice:
- give a clear job title to attract the "right" applicants – RVN, VN, VNA – give recognition to skills and training;
- provide an idea of what’s involved in the role;
- location – allows applicants to assess travel requirements and allows them to consider relocation;
- provide applicants with information on the type of area – for example, rural or urban;
- provide salary to enable applicants to assess whether they can afford to apply;
- give opportunities for training and/or CPD – if you support it let candidates know; access to in-house training and/or external training and CPD; is it funded and are they paid for the time away from work?;
- detail industry-recognised training schemes;
- give working hours – what is the normal working week? are they expected to work out of hours?;
- is there a rota?;
- extras – let the applicants know what you offer;
- accommodation offered?;
- is there a pension?;
- a healthcare plan?;
- any concessions for own animals – housed/reduced charges for diets, kit or veterinary treatment?;
- is overtime paid and how about time off in lieu?;
- contact details – provide a range to attract as many applicants as possible;
- consider telephone interviews to start assessing communication skills;
- consider job info packs;
- would providing website details to candidates attract someone to your practice?;
- give the reason for the position being vacant – it's encouraging to see a positive reason for vacancy, such as promotion or expansion; and
- make the job description as detailed as possible to allow applicants to accurately assess whether they should apply.
For more information, contact Lantra on 0845 707 8007 or email email@example.com. You can also download Lantra's investigative study into issues surrounding the recruitment of qualified veterinary nurses at www.lantra.co.uk/research