10 Ways social media can positively impact your veterinary career... even if you're not moving jobs
Let's chat about social media and careers in veterinary medicine.
In years gone by, this combination might have evoked the jitters for some. Whether that was the thought of a potential employer seeing your vet school fancy dress photos, having to be an 'influencer', or private profiles being tracked down by clients.
There's far more to the story than this. Social media can open incredible opportunities, spark friendships, and bring your aspirations closer. You don't even have to create content, promise. Using social media could be anything from creating an educational Instagram or Tiktok account, to utilising LinkedIn, to being part of Facebook groups.
We know lots of you are already sold on the benefits of using social media, and maybe this post is for those on the fence.
Here are 10 fantastic ways that social media can give your veterinary career a real boost.
1. Veterinary networking without the ick
Let's start to redefine networking, and you're probably already doing it without realising. At the end of the day, this is the bare bones of it:
"Networking is the process of building and maintaining a group of professional contacts or relationships, typically for the purpose of exchanging information, knowledge, resources, and support related to your career or business. It involves connecting with individuals who share similar professional interests, goals, or industries."
Notice that there's no mention of suits, formalised scripts or professional speed dating. Social media gives you the opportunity to find, access, and speak with people that you'd never come across in day-to-day life. The more you interact and create memories with people, you'll come to the forefront of their mind. Be curious, be compassionate.
This might be strategic in terms of messaging someone who works at a company you'd like to learn more about, or has completed a qualification you're keen to pursue. Alternatively, you might just love someone's vibe and feel they're on your wavelength.
Don't be the one to say no to yourself. Send the message. Ask for the virtual coffee. Find those with similar interests or you're keen to get in contact with, drop them a message, and interact; they're human too.
Alongside this, please also remember that if someone says no or doesn't reply, it's very unlikely to reflect on you and more on their boundaries or present capacity. Some platforms may be better than others - but let's not restrict ourselves with rules or boxes. If someone shares actively and openly about their career on Instagram, that might be the best place to message, even though LinkedIn is classically associated with this subject.
2. Share your passions in veterinary medicine and beyond
You might be surprised who you connect with as a result of telling the world what you're passionate about and sharing your insights. Remember, we are all human underneath and our interests extend beyond the profession too.
This doesn't mean that you have to share every intricate detail of your life, but let's not underestimate the power of connection.
Imagine that you share you're passionate about a particular charity. This might spark conversations with someone like minded who is in a company that you've always wanted to know more about.
3. Showcasing your veterinary expertise and experiences
You have experiences and expertise that will help people and that others will resonate with, and you might be surprised about the opportunities it could unlock for you too.
You don't have the be a world leader in a subject to provide value and insights. Let's ditch that pressure now. We believe that we do have to be open and honest about our level of experience and expertise, and use references where appropriate. We might frame messages with appropriate signposting, further resources or a nod to something being our opinion.
Remember, sharing experiences doesn't always have to be about clinical work either. You may choose to share your insights as a leader or student, your observations of the human-animal bond, your personal thoughts on current industry events or document your progression.
You not only help others but you also showcase what's important to you to future employers; bear this in mind whenever you post.
4. Making friends in veterinary medicine and beyond
Sometimes the veterinary world can feel like a lonely profession. We might drift apart from those we went to university with, trained with, or worked with in previous roles. Whilst work colleagues can be wonderful friends in many circumstances, this isn't always the case for everyone. Making friends with those that we feel drawn to, and that bring alternative and additional viewpoints and experiences can be really valuable.
Friendships can provide valuable support circles that go both ways, as well as sounding boards when we need insights into certain situations that maybe others in our lives don't have the context for. This can be invaluable in our careers.
Engage with others by joining relevant groups, commenting on posts, and initiating conversations through direct messages. Always prioritise respect and online etiquette, treating others with kindness while safeguarding your personal information for your safety. Be authentic, be you, and find the spaces where that feels comfortable; they're your people.
Social media provides plenty of opportunity for this across the globe, as a natural process, without needing to force anything. You might decide to meet for a coffee on Zoom, or at a conference; suggest it!
And remember, there is always someone to speak to 24/7 at Vetlife in the UK, 0303 040 2551 https://helpline.vetlife.org.uk/.
5. Veterinary CPD online...
The veterinary world never stops evolving. Social media is like a treasure chest of knowledge, for clinical topics and beyond. By following the right accounts and joining discussions, you can continue your education right from home, and without even feeling like CPD sometimes. Many accounts will also put on free webinars as well.
There are some fantastic accounts that post cases and walkthroughs, here are a few to start you off...
6. Unexpected opportunities in your veterinary career
For someone to give you opportunities, let's bear in mind the marketing concept of KNOW/LIKE/TRUST. Those opportunities might be speaking gigs, collaborations, paid additional work, new jobs, chances to give your input, conference tickets, event access and more - the list is endless.
Those people with the opportunities primarily have to know that you exist. This can be via you making content, a friend of a friend, someone sharing your content, you commenting or responding to an opportunity. You could be the most incredible person for the opportunity, but if they don't know about you, they can't ever offer it to you.
Being liked and trusted is built over time (also a reminder, that not everyone has to, or will, like us). Trust can be from a word of mouth referral, consistency of messaging, the way you frame a post, testimonials where appropriate or a conversation they have with you. Being liked, is, of course, a personal thing in terms of shared interests, views, values etc; again more evidence as to why sharing some authentic snippets about ourselves can have value too.
You never know where the opportunities might come from, or what they might look like. Keeping putting the good stuff out there... you never know what might grow.
7. Veterinary recruitment on social media
Whichever side of the table you're on, social media can be valuable in terms of recruitment.
Those looking for jobs:
Here are a few ways in which social media can be valuable:
Optimise your online presence - people do search online. This isn't about being inauthentic, but it's actually about being true to you. Search yourself - is this an accurate representation of you and your interests? When was the last time you shared something on LinkedIn? Even if you simply repost something you're passionate about, those searching will see alignment between your activity and your CV. Be you, and shine!
Find opportunities - many companies now take to social media to share opportunities.
Scope out insights - check the social media profile of a practice, see what their team are saying and how their clients interact. A lack of a social media presence doesn't mean somewhere is not going to be a great place to work, but it may give you further insights.
Those looking for team members:
Advertise your roles - places such as Vets Stay Go Diversify! can be really helpful to give further opportunities to get under the skin of your business in a good way, in their large online social media communities and with options such as Interview The Boss.
Optimise your online social media presence too. Is it really reflective of your practice or business as a whole?
8. Communication and education for pet guardians
Whether creating solo content or via practice social media, online platforms can be really valuable for client education.
Showing behind-the-scenes content helps build and grow the know/like/trust concept, as well as educational posts. Lots of the things that are obvious to us, really aren't to those who don't do this every day. Of course, gaining appropriate consent to share images of our patients, but not all posts have to have them in either.
Using social media can build positive relationships and help with expectation management too. This can all help us in the consultation room as well!
9. Use the veterinary hive mind for your career
We have never had more voices at our fingertips. Whether you want to ask one person specifically or are open to a number of insights, it has never been easier to do this. This might be regarding a case, a career move, a situation or a further qualification. In this case, we are talking careers!
Many Facebook groups will allow the posting of anonymous questions if you prefer to keep your name hidden (please note that admins can see this).
There are groups for all manner of topics, clinical or non-clinical, parenting, chronic health, staying active, and many more. Our careers can be impacted in many ways, by things that might seem overtly work-based and other areas of our lives that impact it in other ways.
A few (wise) top tips to bear in mind when asking the hive mind about careers:
If you ask 10 different people about a situation, you will likely get 10 different opinions. Some of these might be backed up by fact, yet many are shaped by past personal experiences, career stages and world views. This doesn't make anyone wrong, but bear in mind what's right for one person isn't always right for someone else. Getting various opinions might help us see things from different perspectives and consider aspects that might not have been immediately obvious, but be aware there will always be individual variations.
This is a tricky question, but one worth asking ourselves. By writing the post, are you looking for solutions, or do you just want to be heard and listened to? Either answer is ok, but let's gently set expectations with ourselves and maybe in the post too. Is an online group the best place to do this right now?
Sometimes if we are feeling very activated by a particular career-based situation or circumstance, we might write things that we mean in the moment but perhaps don't longer term. If we're ever unsure, writing things down can be valuable and rather than posting, re-reading them after 24hours, or asking a trusted friend to tone-check them. Alternatively, sometimes other spaces are valuable for us to be heard, such as loved ones, friends or Vetlife.
Consider the most useful way to frame and pose your question. Have a strategy, even a vague one. What do you want to know? What are you trying to get clear on? What are you looking for? Is that clear in your post.
Are you looking for opinions, or for professional advice? Many times, we might come across professionals on Facebook, but equally, remember there are other places we can seek support from such as the BVU or ACAS.
Be aware of identifying specifics. The veterinary world is generally small. You may wish to redact or change certain parts that don't change the context too much but make it less likely for someone to realise it is you if anonymity is important. A good rule of thumb could be to post as if any other involved parties might be in the group.
10. Finding a veterinary mentor
Social media is also a place to both find and offer mentorship. Someone experienced can guide and support those just starting in the field. And who knows, you might find an amazing mentor!
We'd love to hear some of your stories too!
Don't forget, that we have a panel session at London Vet Show, where Jack Pye RVN, Dr. Bolu Eso, Dr. Kirsten Ronngren and Dr. Katie Ford will be sharing their insights and also how social media impacted their career too. See you on Friday at 2;50pm, Gallery Suite 17.
Thanks to VSGD for including us in their career trail too.