Tom Cruise as Jerry Maguire. Did he ever work in veterinary recruitment?
Tom Cruise as Jerry Maguire. Do you think he ever worked in veterinary recruitment?

As a new graduate I found it raised eyebrows and cast doubt on your character to ask about the salary too early in the somewhat shy courtship between vet and recruiting practice.

I covered hundreds, if not thousands of miles attending interviews for jobs where the most basic of expectations (the remuneration) was kept secret until they offered the job. It was often disappointing!

It took a good few years before I felt I had “earned my stripes” and could ask up front what was on offer before making travel plans. My reasoning was (and still is) that I care about my patients, clients, and colleagues and enjoy my job, but nobody works for free – to try to pretend otherwise is dishonest.

The first time I asked up front it saved me a 600-mile round trip because the maximum salary on offer, until then undisclosed, would have been a 50% pay cut.

Look at the recruitment pages anywhere else – like medical or management professional jobs – and the salary, time off and other benefits are all specified on the advert. In the veterinary profession it’s specified as “competitive” in the vast majority of places. If you’re lucky you may sometimes see the time off and holidays specified, but it’s rare for them to specify the salary range on offer.

Wad of cash...
Image ©

So why is this?

While reasons such as keeping it confidential from competitors may be mentioned, I wonder if it’s still this subconscious uneasiness we as a profession have with money and the concept of being paid to do our job; the shy pretence that money doesn’t matter – of course it does!

Most of us are motivated day-to-day by our job; we love fixing things, preventing disease, advising owners, learning new things, challenging diagnoses, abolishing pain and suffering. However, what keeps you going week-to-week and month-to-month is the knowledge you can pay your mortgage, put petrol in the car, buy toys for your kids and add to your pension fund. This is where your salary (and time off) matters, and is one place where dissatisfaction can creep in.

I would like to see far more openness in recruitment right from advert to the final negotiations. It might even improve recruitment matters in areas where practices are having trouble attracting vets to fill vacancies.

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