How To Get Noticed By Dog Care Employers
(and land the job of your dreams).
There may be lots of dog care businesses (walkers, groomers, vets, kennels, day care) in your local area taking on staff. Some might be thinking about expanding in the near future. Whatever the situation, you want to get ahead of your competition, stand out and land an amazing job doing what you love – caring for dogs. The trouble is, at times it can feel impossible to even get a call-back for volunteering.
Here are my top tips to really “wow” potential employers, mistakes to avoid and help you really get noticed to reach that all important next step on your career ladder.
Do your research
The biggest mistake most people make is they don’t research what or where their dream job would be. This means they don’t really have a specific goal to push towards. Perhaps this is you – you just want any opportunity you can find to work with animals. That’s really great, but it’s worth pinpointing research on local businesses to decide on where you feel you would fit best in the industry.
Why? It will help you tailor your job applications to suit your skills. When you approach each business, you can show off how much you know about their business as a whole. They might specialise in rescue dogs, specific breeds or puppy classes. They might be big on raw feeding, hydrotherapy or pack walks. If that’s your area too, show it off.
Business owners love to know that potential employees are as keen to satisfy their customers needs and uphold the company’s reputation as much as they do.
TOP TIP: They also want a lot of qualities required by the pre-school industry:
- Knowledge on behaviour.
- Compassion and kindness.
- Reliable and responsible.
Think about your best qualities and how they will impact a business. Working with dogs is not just about cuddling fluffy animals all day – there is a mammoth amount of customer service, teamwork and admin going on behind the scenes to ensure all dogs are safe, happy and healthy.
ALWAYS include a CV and cover letter in your first contact email
I can’t stress this one enough. Each year Jarvis Dog Boarding receives 100s of emails and phone calls from budding volunteers and a keen workforce desperate to join the team. Unfortunately many of them stick in my mind for all the wrong reasons.
- They don’t provide a CV and cover letter.
- It’s obvious they have not researched my business.
- The email comes across as rude or demanding.
- Around 70% have made a spelling or grammatical error.
It looks really bad and as a business owner it makes me feel like they don’t really care. Do yourself a favour and invest some time in a really great CV and cover letter. You will thank yourself for it later.
Try to picture your first contact with a dog care business from their perspective. You have appeared in their inbox out of nowhere. What kind of impression do you want to make?
- Aim to impress the reader with your organization and skillset.
- Be open and honest about what you want.
- Tailor each cover letter to the business you’re speaking to. They’ll notice.
- Above all, spellcheck.
- Tell the reader you want to shadow a few days before you set up your own dog business. It’s just insulting.
- Tell your reader you want paid work, but will ultimately work for free (guess which one they’ll choose)
- Say anything negative about current or past employment
- Write too much (keep the intro short with tidy attachments)
- Ask about pay too early on in the discussion
- Contact via text message
TOP TIP: Use a simple, professional email address to contact a businesses (not an embarrassing handle you invented at school).
What is classed as experience?
Unfortunately, handling and training your family dogs is not considered experience. Employers want to hear you have spent at least 12 months working around animals in a semi-professional setting.
Whether you studied at an agricultural college, spent time as a freelance dog trainer or have volunteered with rescue dogs and cats – its ideal that you can demonstrate how you were totally responsible for another life and created positive change for another’s person’s pets.
If you don’t have any experience, you may need to rely on other transferable skills to get you where you want to be. Are you a great sales person with a track record? Do you have a killer formula for customer service? Or are you a whizz with computers and planning? Brainstorm your best qualities no matter how unrelated they may seem. Chances are they will be useful!
Volunteer (and be prepared to do the horrible jobs)
Nine times out of ten you will need to be 18 or over for volunteer work. Be prepared for boring or yucky jobs before you can get your hands on a dog too. I’m talking about mopping up nasty bouts of diarrhea and other indoor accidents. Dog professionals see it all and more frequently than you’d imagine.
Even your potential employer will have spent hours on end picking up poo to get where they are today. It’s all part of the job. If you can do this with a smile and a song, trust me; you will massively accelerate your future in the industry. Attitude is everything when you are caring for other people’s pets.
Contact large kennels and rescue centres with upwards of 5-10 staff for unpaid work. They will be more likely to be able to accommodate you and will have processes and systems in place for volunteers.
Be prepared for rejection
With all the best planning in the world, you may still be rejected. It’s important not to take this personally. Dust yourself off and keep trying. The right position for you is out there, you just need to find each other.
Always ask for feedback as to why you didn’t make the final selection and really think about how you can improve your knowledge, experience and interview technique between each application.
Like many roles, if it were easy, everyone would be doing it. Have faith in yourself, work hard to improve your skills and be brave. Your career choice may not be an easy one, but will be so rewarding when you reach your goals. It may be just around the corner.