How to translate clinical skills to make a career transition

Figuring out how to translate the skills you’ve gained in clinical veterinary practice into more universally understood business terms can be daunting. One way to approach this is to define your skills using behavioral competencies. Several categories of behavioral competencies exist and may vary by industry. We’ve compiled a chart of generally used behavioral competency categories with a broad definition of what the competency encompasses and tied that to some examples of skills learned or developed in clinical veterinary practice. You will notice that ‘practice management’ is a skill set listed as an example for several behavioral competencies. This is because practice management encompasses many different skills that show a mastery of several different competencies, including human resource management, financial management, and technology management, among others; however, simply listing practice management on your experience may not translate to all of these areas in the eyes of a recruiter. These key behavioral competencies can then be used when creating a competency based resume and in preparing for interviews so that you are speaking in terms that the recruiter or person in charge of hiring understands and so that they may understand the various ways in which your DVM degree and experience provide the skills they desire.

Behavioral competency chart

This behavioral competency list can serve as a guide to help translate the skills you have mastered in a clinical veterinary medicine environment in a new light. The goal of this list is to help frame your experience in terms that are more universally understood outside of clinical medical professions. The list provides broad examples, so consider how your specific skills, knowledge, and abilities fit within these categories. This list is not comprehensive but provides a starting point to learn how to think of and describe your experiences using general business terminology to develop a competency-based resume and to speak with future employers. Remember to carefully review the job opening or job description to tailor the competencies to the job you are seeking.

Sample competency-based resume

This sample resume is presented solely as a reference for understanding how to use behavioral competencies in a non-traditional resume or CV. A traditional or chronological resume is based on work history and positions held, typically listed in reverse chronological order. One has the option to include skills gained in the various positions, but the emphasis is on work history. A competency based resume emphasizes skills and experiences gained over the entirety of one’s career. Work history is included at the end of the resume but is not the main focus.

This is such a large departure for many veterinarians in thinking about how to organize a resume that we felt an example would be beneficial. This is not, however, an example to be simply copied as that would be a disservice to oneself in applying for positions. No ‘stock resume’ should ever be used to apply for a job position. Each resume should be tailored to each job position based on identifying key words and key competencies required and/or desired in the job description.