In honour of International Cat Day, Recruiter spoke to a recruitment agency that has a feline receptionist.
Earlier this summer, Recruiter brought you a story about the benefits of having canine consultants to call upon to celebrate Bring Your Dog to Work Day.
In the interests of balance, Recruiter spoke to veterinarian staffing agency A1 Locums about their feline receptionist TC.
Senior recruitment consultant Sophie Vickers explained TC’s in a job share with his canine companion, a black Labrador by the name of Wilbur.
According to Vickers, TC and Wilbur are known to come around and meet visitors to the office with a friendly miaow or woof, which she says always lifts the mood of the office and makes everyone smile.
TC doesn’t have a long commute as his home is just next door to the office where he lives with his human, A1 Locums director Clare Alderton.
And it seems TC doesn’t seem to make a distinction between his own home and the office. “He knows all of us and comes and gets treats, or sits or lies on our desks… He just comes in, especially in the winter. He goes off when he wants to and comes back when he wants a bit of a fuss from everybody.”
While TC is a friendly kitty, interaction with him is on his own terms, Vickers adds.
“He’s quite grumpy. He doesn’t like being cuddled – it’s fuss on his own accord. He’ll walk across everybody’s keyboards. If you’ve got any paperwork, he’ll lie across that… if there’s any paperwork, it’s always got muddy prints on because he’s walked across our desks or something similar.”
But it appears TC’s been a free spirit since he was little. “When he was a kitten, Clare had her window open. He made a swift exit out the window and he was hanging on for dear life with his little claws. Anne made Clare go and make a cup of tea as a distraction and [recruitment manager] Anne [McManus] went to catch him. We think that’s one of his nine lives done.
“In the house it’s all open plan. So TC decides to run up the banister, falls off and lands on the sofa. He didn’t speak to anyone for a couple of days through pure embarrassment!”
Despite all this, we know that all the staff at A1 Locums are feline that TC is the purrfect member of the fur-midable team of paw-some recruiters [enough of the cat puns – Ed.].
Almost six months after launching our A1 Locums app, we take a look at how it’s changed the way we communicate with our vets and nurses.
Managing Director Clare Alderton says ‘Since launching, we have listened to feedback from our candidates and implemented a few minor but positive changes. In effect, we have evolved the design to simplify the recruiting process even further.”
Once you’ve downloaded the A1 Locums app, you’re able to register directly with us, load a list of your available dates and message us with your preferences. You can browse the jobs by location or date and apply for any role that catches your eye, there and then. Using the app can speed up the job-hunting process for you. When you contact us we automatically recognise your profile, know who you are, where and when you wish to work and how we can potentially assist you.
As a job-seeker you can set your preferences to receive only certain emails via push groups, relevant to the type of work you are looking for, areas or the companies you’d like to work with.
Clare says “The new WhattsApp button has been a popular addition. Sometimes all you want is a human voice!”
As a locum you may be free at short notice, and equally, practices may find, at the drop of a hat, that they need additional staff to cover a shift. With the information we get from our app holders, we can facilitate a speedy turnaround and a suitable match. It’s a plain and simple platform yet it’s proved invaluable to the veterinary professionals we deal with on a daily basis.
Yesterday a vet came rushing in to our offices in dirty wellies and mud-splattered shirt just in time for his job interview. The sidelong glance from our office-based colleague with his crisp white shirt and perfectly pressed trousers didn’t go unnoticed. The vet explained that he had just returned from a breach birth emergency callout on a nearby cattle farm and had to make a choice of being late for our appointment or turning up in his working gear.
This kicked off a bit of a debate in our offices afterwards. Some were adamant that he should have gone home to change to make a good first impression. Others admired his confidence and commitment to turn up on time, sans clean attire.
As a veterinary professional – how should do you dress for a job interview? Is it more appropriate for a nurse to wear a uniform or to show individuality and arrive suited and booted? Should you tie up your hair or is it acceptable to leave it long and flowing? How about painted nails and jewellery, or tattoos and face piercings? Do you take a chance and hope the prospective employer accepts you as you are, or do you deliberately cover up, pare it back? What if the person you are meeting has preconceived ideas and prejudices? Would that jeopardise your chances?
An accountant friend recently went for an interview at a small home-based laboratory and pondered beforehand about what to wear, knowing the environment is casual. In the end he dressed in a suit and tie, wanting to appear ‘professional’, yet he admits he was completely overdressed and out of place compared to the interviewers who all sported jeans and tees. But would they have judged his attire as inappropriate or disrespectful if he arrived wearing casual clothes? When is smart too smart and casual too casual?
Our debate continues. The vet…well, he got that job and is no doubt doing a splendid job kneeling in a dusty, hay-filled barn as we speak.
We look back on a fantastic couple of days at the annual VET Festival event which took place on 8 and 9 June 2018.
Anyone who exhibits at an event knows it takes months of planning and weeks of anticipation before you even arrive at the venue.
In the run-up top the event we hosted a facebook competition to give away free tickets to the event, and were delighted with the response. At VET Festival we organised a free prize draw to give away a ‘cat’ hamper and ‘dog hamper’ to two lucky winners who registered with us.
Having launched our new A1 Locums App earlier this year, we also offered a free reusable coffee cup to any stand visitors who showed us the app on their phones!
We asked Sophie Vickers, Senior Recruitment Consultant at A1 Locums for her impressions of this year’s VET Festival.
“Vet Festival is one of our favourite conferences. Relaxing atmosphere, great CPD and fantastic company along with a side of live music and a glass of bubbly. We met a lot of clients who have gone on to pastures new, clients we have been working with for years and the future generations studying at university.
“The industry is fast paced and still growing, attracting speakers from all over the world.. Our little Wilbur met all the nurses that looked after him at Fitzpatricks. He greeted every one with a wag and a cuddle, and was most definitely the star of the show!
Sadly, it’s time to pack away the marquees and bales of hay for another year, but we will be back for 2019 on stand ST35a .. come and meet us there.
When our REC Compliance Test certificate dropped through our letterbox, it was real cause for celebration at A1 Locums. Why, you may ask, is this recognition such a big deal?
When you’ve been running a veterinary recruitment company for almost 20 years and have seen the industry change massively over time, it’s a proud moment to know you are riding the crest of the wave; you are right there where all the action is; you are neck and neck with the front runners in recruitment.
Having achieved 97% in the Test is a firm acknowledgement that your company demonstrates an understanding of the REC’s Code of Professional Practice. It’s a significant statement that says A1 Locums really does meet the requirements for the Conduct of Employment Agencies and Employment Businesses Regulations. This ethos is embedded in the way we do business.
I’m thinking back to how we operated when I started in recruitment: telephone calls, personal meetings, faxes and posted letters were the order of the day. Social media was not even a twinkle in the eye of the Mark Zuckerbergs of the world. Compared to how candidates searched for jobs way back then – today, with the swipe of an app or a quick search phrase, candidate and employer can be linked in a flash, without a human conversation necessarily having taken place. Communication is fully mobile and instantly accessible anywhere, any time of day.
But what lies behind the achievement of this certificate? Let me take you on a trip to a picturesque setting, to a farm in the Northamptonshire countryside, to a barn nestling among stables, sweeping fields and ancient woodlands; the offices and people that make up A1 Locums. We are not only veterinary recruiters; we also truly adore animals! Ring the doorbell and Wilbur the dog and TC the cat will be the first to investigate your arrival. Step inside and it’s a hive of friendly activity, where we do what we do best; matching top candidates to the best veterinary jobs.
The REC has established that we have the tools needed to be a compliant and efficient recruitment business, but more importantly, we have people you can pick up the phone to, people who are not hidden behind faceless digital platforms, but real people who are interested in your next move as a locum vet or nurse. I am proud to say that my team is immensely dedicated; they’re professional, skilled and experienced. We are fortunate enough to have built up great relationships with practices around the country over the years, and those practices know that at the drop of the proverbial hat, they can call us to find them a suitable candidate. Candidates, in turn, have come to trust that we will match them to the right practice and keep them informed about the latest locum jobs.
Attaining REC membership means being among the best in recruitment. So yes, this certificate is rather a big deal. – Clare, Managing Director
We caught up with Sophie Vickers, one of our recruitment consultants who has just completed her Level 2 – Certificate in Recruitment Resourcing through the Institute of Recruiters.
Q: Sophie, tell us how you came to be in veterinary recruitment. A: My journey in the veterinary industry started when I joined A1 Locums back in November 2015. I was fresh off the plane with a glowing tan from three months travelling and volunteering in Africa. I had spoken to Anna and Clare before I left and was keen to come back and work with A1 Locums – really to meet Wilbur the puppy again (can you blame me?).
I came into this job with a university degree in Business and Management and a 7-year stint in customer service. I chose the path of Business at university, but I have always had an interest in the animal kingdom. I enjoy breaks and that’s where I get my safari fix – by going to various reserves in Africa to help protect and educate people on endangered species.
Q: What’s it like to work in recruitment? A: I found it strange to go from seeing people every day to only talking to them on email or the phone, but I have made some great connections during my time at A1 Locums.
Q: What prompted you to study further? A: I loved university and was intrigued to learn something new and apply it to this industry, which gave me a craving to study again. I have learnt so much and applied the knowledge to my everyday job; from how I approach people, to advertising a job to filling a position. The one defining factor is that I want to help people and animals. I can’t directly help animals in this profession, but I can help the people that look after your little fur babies and that’s why I want to get better at this job, to make a difference.
Q: Working and studying! How did you fit it all in?
A: Juggling work and studying was a big shock to the system again after 3 years post university. I was forever late to coaching (Netball), leaving a trail of paper behind me. The whole independent learning is something I love and could get used to. I have swapped the travel brochures for text books again, which will thrill my manager, Clare no end!
I keep having to remind myself why I started, and now I have that very same conversation with clients and candidates too. I even ask practices what made them start out, why they became vets or why they created a specific business model for their clinic.
Q: How have you been able to apply your studies in your day to day job? A: The unit that made a big impact was the Building and Maintaining of Relationships with Candidates; how we can create and maintain loyalty. This has really helped me with looking after both clients and candidates and going that extra mile. I have been able to help prior to interviews, filling the gap with missing information on a role and making sure they are looked after in the best possible way. The research element has also made me aware of what is current and changing within the industry. What is happening with competitors and the factors affecting our industry with the looming Brexit being top of the agenda!
My first assignment was based on the recruitment industry facts and figures. Unit 4 was understanding the selection process, helping me to prepare both candidates and clients. As soon as someone phones me, on their knees, needing a vet, I try to do whatever I can to get them some help. Or that candidate looking for a dream job – I will always do my best to find out what motivates them. They didn’t study for all those years at university to be average. They studied to be awesome and to make a difference.
Q: What are some of the best moments you have had in the recruitment industry? A: Compared to my friends, I think I am in a very fun and different industry, and often get asked ‘What is the best placement you have every filled or the strangest Vet request?’ Hands down, I remember it so well, mainly because I was very jealous. It was in August 2016 and I had a lovely equine retreat in Mustique that needed a vet to sail for 12 days from Portsmouth to Mustique to accompany 2 ponies to their new home. The stop-offs were St Lucia and The Grenadines! I asked my vet to send me photos, but I regretted that very swiftly. As a thank you they sent said vet to a lovely pool party overlooking the beach and the food looked amazing! There could be a lot worse places in the world to spend 14 days. The beaches were white, cocktails were flowing, and the sunsets were something to dream of.
Q: What’s the best part of working at A1 Locums? A: The difference between us here at A1 Locums versus other recruitment companies is the view! We are very lucky to be where we are; it’s a positive environment and we always try to convey that over the phone by answering with a smile; being the agency with the friendly touch.
Launch of new A1 Locums app for veterinary professionals
Our new app will speed recruiting process for locums
A1 Locums has released a new app to make the lives of busy veterinary professionals simpler, by enabling registered locums to get in touch easier at the swipe of a screen. By using the new app, they will be able to contact A1 Locums quickly to let them know their current availability, apply for a job on the go, or make contact via WhatsApp. The new A1 Locums app is now available for download.
Registered locums will be sent the link to download this free app straightaway, enabling them to be in touch immediately with the recruiters at A1 Locums. The candidates can be set up to receive only certain emails via push groups – relevant to the type of work they are looking for, areas or the companies they like to work with.
Managing Director Clare Alderton said “Owing to the nature of the locum placement process, speed is often of the essence when filling a position. In developing the app, we wanted a straightforward and uncomplicated platform to help make the lives of the veterinary professionals we deal with lot easier and save them time.”
If veterinary professionals are not registered with A1 Locums and are interested in the app, they can register here before downloading it.
For candidates already registered with A1 Locums, here are the links to download the app:
One of our locum vets, Helen Brown, has recently returned from Bosnia, volunteering at the Nirina Dog Shelter. Helen gives an amazing encounter in the blog of what it was like. A1 locums will be supporting the charity be sending a donation instead of Christmas cards this year.
A1 Locums are up for an award today at the London Vet Show.
In the recent Veterinary Trust Awards (in association with Vet Dynamics and The Webinar Vet), A1 Locums were not only nominated for the Most Trusted Recruitment Company, but have been shortlisted for the top three!
The winner will be revealed at a hosted ‘Pizza and Prosecco’ evening at The Hotel Ibis, London Excel Docklands, after the London Vet Show. Fingers crossed we will win!
We are pleased to announce that Lauren Clark is our Harper Adam’s University Graduate of the Year.
A1 Locums has over the last 5 years sponsored an award for the best overall student on BSc Veterinary Nursing and Practice Management course and has supported the Careers Fairs and lecture sessions, with training on ‘How to be a successful Locum’.
We have asked Lauren to summarise about her time at Harper Adams University.
I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Harper and loved every aspect of the course. The knowledge I gained through a mixture of formal lectures, practical sessions and tutorials along with the excellent facilities and supportive, knowledgeable teaching staff fully prepared me for a career as a veterinary nurse. I found the course very interesting; covering a variety of subjects from physiology, medical nursing and advanced nursing to more specialised topics such as physical therapies, equine nursing and practice management. Small animal nutrition is a particular interest of mine, which was the main focus for my final year dissertation. I investigated the use of nutritional assessments and feeding plans in hospitalised cats and found that the use of such assessments were effective at preventing weight loss in cats during hospitalisation. My findings emphasise the importance of nutrition in ill and injured animals as an aspect of improving patient care and is something I have managed to integrate into my current practice.
I am currently working as a registered veterinary nurse at a busy first opinion small animal practice in Buckinghamshire where I completed my year-long placement as part of my course. Here I undertake many roles of a veterinary nurse including anaesthesia monitoring, medical nursing and inpatient care, laboratory work and nurse consultations. I really enjoy the variety the job brings, however I would like to undertake further study in a more specialised area such as small animal nutrition or surgical nursing. In the future I would love to take my nursing skills abroad and volunteer or work as veterinary nurse in places such as Africa, Australia or New Zealand and expand my skills even further.
I am thrilled to be the recipient of the A1 Locums award; the course has been very challenging for me both practically and academically and I feel proud of my achievements. I am excited to see what the future holds for me as a veterinary nurse and I feel honoured to be a part of this growing profession.