8 Top Traits employers are seeking in candidates

By Joleen Little BVSc MRCVS

And how does this relate to the Veterinary Profession?


Even if you’re not actively seeking a new job or actively looking for another employment opportunity, you might be curious as to whether you have what employers want. To an extent, this is human nature, but it’s also a good idea to benchmark yourself in certain areas for the purpose of assessing your candidacy in the market.

In other words, to more accurately gauge whether or not you would be considered a top professional by organisations in the employment marketplace.


Below are 10 things that employers are actually looking for in a job candidate:


#1—Hard worker

After all these years, nothing beats being a hard worker and being willing to go the “extra mile” to get the desired results.

As a Vet

You have this already built in. I have yet to meet a lazy one. We already go the extra mile every day at work. What you need to do is realise that this is not sustainable long term so when interviewing you can describe days that you have gone above and beyond but that you realise this is not healthy or achievable on a daily basis.  You have this as a superpower that can be used on the days when, through no fault of management, sick animals won’t stop arriving at the practice!



#2—Problem solver

The ability to solve problems is a form of value, and to employers, it’s one of the most important forms of value that a professional or candidate could have.

As a Vet

You were born a “problem solver”. How else did you get into Vet school? How else did you learn all that knowledge and pass finals? How else did you work out how to stop that bleed?

How else did you diagnose that rare autoimmune disease? How else did you plan a treatment protocol for a chronically itchy dog?

By naming a few of your standout difficult cases it will prove you have this attribute in bucket fulls!




There are multiple ways that a person can be flexible. For example, they can be flexible in their use of time and resources, or they can be flexible in their approach to situations and circumstances.

As a Vet

You will know how many times you must suit your approach to a case based on the individual client you are working with. These decisions will be made when you are thinking about each owner’s expectations, finances, or compliance.

By tailoring each consultation to meet the needs of each patient you are utilising this skill multiple times a day. Not to mention negotiating practice politics!



What does this mean? While changing jobs every two to three years has become more acceptable, organisations do not want to hire people who make it a habit to change jobs every year.

As a Vet

This is more a reflection of the previous practices management and how you were treated as part of the team! You only have to say that you were not prepared to work in a toxic environment, and they will understand you value yourself and will no longer tolerate it. It also indicates you have realised that you have seen something in this practice that inspires you.



#5—Willing to learn

Employers do not want to hire someone who thinks they know it all. Instead, they want to hire professionals who know they don’t know it all and are also willing to engage in continuous training and education in an effort to add to the value that they can provide.

As a Vet

You are bound by your oath to continue your learning so that is not an issue in the veterinary profession, but many clinical directors now are interested in adding value to their practices by employing a vet who seeks to become their resident expert. They also know it can empower their employees to feel good about continuing their career in a positive and progressive way.




You’ve probably heard the phrase, “Do more with less” before, and this applies not only to resources, but also to time. Employees who are able to get more done in less time are more productive, and as a result, they’re considered to be more valuable.

As a Vet

New graduates do not be daunted by this trait. An old mentor of mine once said to me “first get good, then get fast” and I have stuck with this small but valuable piece of advice. We can only become time efficient if we have the right planning in place to allow us to maximise this.

This is a trait you will excel at if you have had time to grow and develop your skill in a supportive environment in your earlier vets as a new graduate. I guess this is also the reason that job adverts ask for a Vet with 2-3 years’ experience because employers know that they will be able to “hit the ground running” when starting in a new practice and they may not have the resources to facilitate extra time or mentoring. Don’t let this stop you from applying though as if they think you are the right person then they should make it work for you. Alternatively, if you know and need the extra support then ask if it will be provided and if there is any doubt then this will not be the right environment for you.





No matter how qualified you are, you still must interact well with other people, specifically your co-workers. Part of this collaboration involves the sharing of ideas and considering ideas that other people give to you.

As a Vet

You will know that being open to suggestions and ideas can enhance your learning. You can pick up many little tricks and tips to help you that may have not been taught at university but will make your routine procedures run more smoothly. Thankfully many vets are humble people who always think they have much more to learn.

Having team meetings regularly will only strengthen your ability to behave in this way and when researching a potential practice this is something that you can ask about. It will demonstrate the team’s ability to work together for the greater good.



#8—Attention to detail

People who have an eye for detail can prevent mistakes from being made and can help to foster better communication throughout the entire organisation. This, of course, leads to greater and higher levels of productivity and of success.

As a Vet

You will have this as one of your top priorities because the risk of being blasé can be catastrophic to your patient’s outcome. There is a difference between neurotic and overly invested in each case. Yes, we all worry about those tricky and hard to solve cases but learning how to leave them at work and not to let them consume you is something that vets are constantly aware of. Sharing your experiences at interview of the cases you have successfully treated through thorough work ups and investigations will demonstrate this, but employers nowadays should and will want to know that you have the ability to switch off and those that actively encourage this are the ones to impress.

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