Job Application Etiquette: Avoid These Common  Mistakes to Secure Your Dream Veterinary Job
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Posted on 20 November 2023

We know there’s a skills shortage within the veterinary industry, especially within clinical practice. We know there’s plenty of jobs to go around for any vet surgeon or vet nurse who needs one.

As job seekers, we often focus on perfecting our CVs, honing our interview skills, and highlighting our qualifications. While these elements are undeniably crucial, there is one overarching factor that can significantly influence your success: professionalism. Professionalism is not merely a buzzword; it is a guiding principle that shapes your entire job application process.

Professionalism in job applications goes far beyond dressing well and a firm handshake. It extends to the way you present yourself on paper, in person, and even online. It encompasses every interaction you have with potential employers, recruiters, and even your own references. The impact of professionalism can be profound, determining whether you are considered for an interview, how you are perceived during that interview, and whether you ultimately receive that coveted job offer.

In this blog, we will explore the key aspects of job application etiquette and the behaviours that job seekers should avoid. These include making unreasonable demands in your cover letter, failing to communicate changes in availability, abruptly ending communication with recruiters or employers, ignoring interview requests, and speaking negatively about previous employers. We'll delve into why each of these actions can have detrimental effects on your job prospects and provide guidance on how to navigate the application process with the utmost professionalism.

Whether you are a recent graduate embarking on your first job search or an experienced professional seeking new opportunities, understanding and practicing professionalism in your job applications will set you on the path to success. It's time to take a closer look at these critical aspects of job application etiquette and equip yourself with the tools to stand out in a crowded job market.

1.Examples of Excessive Demands to Avoid:

Unreasonable Salary Expectations: It's perfectly reasonable to discuss salary expectations, but stating a rigid, non-negotiable figure without knowing the practice’s compensation structure or market rates can be counterproductive. For example, writing, "I won't accept anything less than a £50,000 annual salary" in your cover letter can be off-putting to employers, especially if the position's market rate is lower.

Accommodation and Relocation Assistance Requests: While it's acceptable to mention that you may need accommodation or relocation assistance in certain situations, demanding these accommodations without prior discussion or before a job offer can be seen as presumptuous. For instance, stating, "I expect the practice to cover all my relocation expenses, including housing and transportation," is not the best approach in a cover letter.

The Negative Impact on a Job Application:

Reduced Chances of Consideration: When job seekers make excessive demands in their cover letters, it can immediately turn off potential employers. It may create the perception that you are more focused on personal benefits than on the value you can bring to the practice. As a result, your application might be overlooked without further consideration.

Failure to Establish a Positive Relationship: Your cover letter is your first opportunity to make a positive impression. Demanding excessive benefits right out of the gate can make you come across as presumptuous, which can damage the potential for building a positive working relationship with the employer.

Misalignment with Practice Culture: Demanding excessive perks or benefits without demonstrating your commitment to the practice's goals and culture can convey a sense of entitlement. Employers generally seek candidates who are aligned with their values and objectives, and excessive demands can suggest a lack of alignment.

How to Approach Salary and Benefits in a Cover Letter:

Instead of making demands in your cover letter, consider these alternative approaches:

Express Flexibility: Mention that you are open to discussing salary and benefits, and emphasize your willingness to negotiate based on the overall compensation package.

Highlight Value: Emphasize the value and skills you bring to the role and the organization. Focus on what you can contribute before discussing what you expect to receive.

Wait for the Right Moment: Avoid discussing specific benefits, especially those related to accommodation or relocation, until you've advanced further in the application process and have a better understanding of the practice’s interest in hiring you.


2. Addressing Changes in Interview Availability: The Importance of Professional Communication

Scheduling interviews is often a delicate dance that involves coordination between job seekers, employers, and recruiters. Unfortunately, one common issue that arises is job seekers failing to inform employers or recruiters about changes in their interview availability. This lack of communication can have negative consequences and reflect poorly on your professionalism. Here's why it's essential to keep interview schedules in check and how to handle scheduling changes professionally.

The Importance of Being Respectful of Other People's Time:

First and foremost, understanding the significance of respecting other people's time is vital. Employers and recruiters have busy schedules, and they invest time in coordinating interviews, reviewing resumes, and preparing for meetings. When you fail to inform them about changes in your availability, it can disrupt their schedules and potentially inconvenience them. This lack of consideration may leave a lasting impression that you don't value their time or are unreliable.

Tips on Handling Scheduling Changes Professionally:

Notify Promptly: If you encounter a scheduling conflict or need to reschedule an interview, the key is to inform the employer or recruiter as soon as possible. Don't wait until the last minute. Ideally, provide notice at least 24 to 48 hours in advance.

Express Apologies: Begin your communication with a polite and apologetic tone. Acknowledge the inconvenience your scheduling change may cause and express your regret.

Provide a Valid Reason: Offer a legitimate reason for the change in your availability, such as a family emergency, a prior work commitment, or a personal matter. Be honest and transparent about your circumstances.

Suggest Alternative Times: While notifying them of the conflict, propose alternative dates or times when you are available for the interview. This shows your commitment to the opportunity and your willingness to accommodate their needs.

Confirm the New Schedule: Once you and the employer or recruiter agree on a new interview time, send a confirmation email. This helps to avoid any misunderstandings and ensures that everyone is on the same page.

Follow Up with Gratitude: After the interview, regardless of whether it proceeds as scheduled or after a reschedule, send a thank-you note or email to express your appreciation for the opportunity and the flexibility shown by the employer or recruiter.

Learn from the Experience: If a scheduling change was necessary due to poor planning or a recurring issue, take it as an opportunity to learn and improve your time management skills to prevent such incidents in the future.

3. Understanding "Ghosting" in the Context of Job Applications:

"Ghosting" in the context of job applications refers to the practice of abruptly and without explanation ending communication with a recruiter or employer during the hiring process. This can happen at various stages, from initial contact to after an interview, and it often involves not responding to emails, calls, or messages when there was an expectation of further communication.

Negative Consequences of Ghosting:

Ghosting in job applications can have a range of negative consequences for both job seekers and employers:

Negative Impression: When you ghost a recruiter or employer, it can create a highly negative impression. It may suggest that you lack professionalism, courtesy, or respect for their time and effort.

Burning Bridges: Abruptly ending communication in this manner can damage your reputation and harm your future job prospects. The recruiter or employer may remember your behaviour and be hesitant to consider you for any future opportunities. The veterinary industry is a very small one and people do talk!

Missed Opportunities: Ghosting can lead to missed opportunities. You might be forfeiting a potentially great job or network connections that could have been valuable in the long run.

Wasted Time and Resources: On the employer's side, ghosting can waste their time and resources. They may have spent time reviewing your application, conducting interviews, and planning for your onboarding.

Disrupting the Hiring Process: Ghosting disrupts the hiring process, as it leaves employers in limbo, unsure of whether they should continue considering you or move on to other candidates.

Alternative Approaches to Declining a Job Offer or Expressing Disinterest:

If you find yourself needing to decline a job offer or express your disinterest in a position, there are more professional and considerate ways to do so:

Timely Communication: Respond to the employer or recruiter as soon as you've made a decision. Prompt communication is respectful and ensures that the process can move forward.

Express Gratitude: Begin your message by expressing gratitude for the opportunity and the time and effort invested by the employer or recruiter.

Be Honest and Polite: Clearly communicate your decision in a polite and honest manner. You don't need to go into excessive detail, but a brief explanation is courteous.

Provide Feedback: If you feel comfortable doing so, provide constructive feedback on why you've made your decision. This feedback can be valuable to the employer for future improvements.

Keep the Door Open: If your decision is based on specific circumstances or preferences, leave the door open for potential future opportunities by expressing your interest in staying connected or being considered for other roles.

Follow Up with a Thank-You: After declining an offer or expressing disinterest, send a thank-you note or email to reiterate your appreciation and maintain a positive relationship.


4.Ignoring Employer Requests for Interviews: The Pitfall of Non-Responsiveness

Ignoring or delaying responses to interview date requests from employers is a counterproductive practice. This lack of prompt communication can lead to several issues:

Missed Opportunities: Employers often have tight hiring timelines. If you delay your response or fail to respond at all, you risk missing the chance to secure an interview or even the job itself, as they may move on to other candidates.

Impression of Disinterest: Non-responsiveness can give the impression that you are disinterested or not genuinely committed to the position. Employers may question your enthusiasm and dedication.

Inconvenience to Employers: Ignoring or delaying responses can be inconvenient for employers who are trying to schedule interviews efficiently. It reflects negatively on your professionalism and consideration for their time.

The Significance of Being Prompt and Responsive:

Being prompt and responsive during the application process is crucial for several reasons:

First Impressions: Your initial interactions with an employer set the tone for the rest of the hiring process. Being prompt and responsive creates a positive first impression.

Respect for Time: Demonstrating responsiveness showcases your respect for the employer's time, which is highly valued in the professional world.

Competitive Advantage: For popular positions, your ability to promptly schedule interviews and respond to communication can give you an edge over other candidates.

Guidance on Professionally Handling Interview Scheduling:

Acknowledge Receipt: As soon as you receive an interview request, send a brief acknowledgment email to confirm that you've received the message and express your appreciation for the opportunity.

Review Your Calendar: Carefully review your calendar to ensure you're available for the proposed interview date and time. Check for any potential conflicts in advance.

Reply Promptly: Respond to the interview request as soon as possible, ideally within 24 hours. Even if you need more time to confirm or reschedule, acknowledging the request promptly is important.

Be Flexible: If the proposed interview date is not suitable, express your willingness to reschedule and suggest alternative dates and times that work for you. This shows your commitment to the opportunity.

Maintain Clear Communication: Clearly communicate your acceptance or rejection of the interview date and time. Include any additional information the employer may need, such as your contact details or any special accommodations you might require.

Follow Up with Gratitude: After the interview, whether it proceeds as planned or is rescheduled, send a thank-you note to express your appreciation for the opportunity and the flexibility shown by the employer.

5.Bad-Mouthing Previous Employers: The Detrimental Impact on Job Applications

Bad-mouthing previous employers, whether in your resume, cover letter, interview, or any other part of the job application process, can be highly detrimental to your prospects. Here's why this practice is harmful, the importance of maintaining a positive and professional tone, and suggestions for addressing negative experiences more constructively.

Why Bad-Mouthing Previous Employers Is Detrimental:

Negative Impression: When you speak negatively about a previous employer, it creates a negative impression on the prospective employer. It may lead them to question your professionalism, ability to work well with others, and discretion.

Lack of Accountability: Bad-mouthing can make you appear as though you lack personal accountability. Employers often expect candidates to take ownership of their experiences, including challenges faced in past roles.

Red Flag for Future Behaviour: Employers may perceive negative comments as a red flag for how you might handle conflicts or challenges in the future. They want to hire candidates who are solution-oriented and can adapt to different working environments.

Toxicity Concerns: Bad-mouthing can also raise concerns about your potential to bring a toxic or disruptive element to their team. Employers seek candidates who can contribute positively to the workplace culture.

The Importance of Maintaining a Positive and Professional Tone:

It's crucial to maintain a positive and professional tone throughout the application process because it demonstrates your maturity, emotional intelligence, and suitability for the job. Here's why it matters:

First Impressions: Your initial interactions with a potential employer create a lasting first impression. A positive tone reflects well on your character and professionalism.

Conflict Resolution Skills: Employers appreciate candidates who can handle disagreements or challenges in a constructive and professional manner. Maintaining a positive tone demonstrates your ability to resolve conflicts.

Adaptability: Staying positive while discussing past experiences, even if they were negative, shows your ability to adapt and learn from challenges.

Communication Skills: Effective communication is a prized skill in the workplace. Speaking professionally and positively demonstrates your capacity for clear, respectful, and constructive communication.

Suggestions for Addressing Negative Experiences Constructively:

Focus on Personal Growth: Instead of criticizing your previous employer, emphasize what you learned from the experience. Discuss how it helped you grow and develop new skills or perspectives.

Emphasize the Positive: If you faced challenges in your previous role, discuss how you addressed them or what positive outcomes emerged from those challenges.

Use Neutral Language: When discussing sensitive topics, use neutral and non-confrontational language. Avoid making accusations or placing blame.

Highlight Solutions: If you encountered issues, emphasize your problem-solving skills. Discuss how you proactively worked to find solutions and improve the situation.

Discuss Desired Change: If you left your previous job due to issues, focus on the positive changes you're seeking in your next role. Frame it as a pursuit of a more suitable environment rather than escaping a negative one.

Seek Professional Advice: If you're uncertain about how to address negative experiences, consider seeking guidance from a career counsellor or mentor. They can help you craft a more constructive narrative.


Just because there’s a skills shortage within the veterinary industry, especially within clinical practice and seemingly plenty of jobs to go around, doesn’t mean that professionalism still isn’t important/ the veterinary industry is a small one, with many recruiters moving from one business to the next taking their impressions of you with them. This applies to both external and internal recruitment. Practice owners/managers talk to, so if you’re only ever going to be looking for jobs local to you, make sure you don’t make a name for yourself as a bad applier.

If you need guidance on your application or would like us to handle the application process for you, then get in touch at for more information.

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