Applying for Jobs – Graduate Veterinarians

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Interview Day on calendarAlthough this article was written for new Veterinary Graduates, and first published in the Kookaburra Veterinary Employment new graduate job newsletter, the general points covered are equally applicable to experienced vets.

How To Apply

Initial contact depends on the job advert – if it asks for applications in writing then don’t phone up. If you are happy to chat on the phone, then this is a great way to find out more about a clinic. If you prefer to send your CV first then that is fine.


  • your CV
  • written reference/s if you have them,
  • A cover letter.

You can email, post, or fax these. A cover letter should say why you’re sending your CV, and include for example:

  • a little bit of information about what type of job you are looking for, what your interests are, aims, skill competencies, etc
  • why you feel this one is suited to your particular skills
  • what level of commitment you are offering eg. Practices are often hopeful that new graduates will stay longer than 12 months!
  • Any other relevant info that isn’t included on your CV, for example, visa details for overseas graduates.

If the ad gives a phone number then phone the clinic first to find out if the job is still available, and to ask if you can send your details through.


Follow-up is really important. Vet Clinics are busy places, and Vets are notoriously unorganised. Your CV may sit on, or even worse, at the bottom of a pile of papers waiting for a “paperwork day”. Don’t assume that just because you haven’t heard anything, they’re not interested. Kookaburra Veterinary Employment receives many calls from clinics where they have mistakenly deleted emails, mislaid paperwork, and lost the bit of paper with a vital phone number and name.

  1. Phone to make sure they received your CV/letter and to give them a voice to put to the paperwork.
  2. If you haven’t heard anything, follow up again in 2 weeks. Don’t pester the clinic, but don’t leave it too long either. Even when a clinic says they’ll ring you, often they won’t!


Cartoon of Interview technique
It’s important to have a face to face interview if possible. Not only does the clinic need to evaluate you, you need to evaluate the clinic – see whether it’s up to date, does it run smoothly, meet the vets and the nurses and see if you’ll be able to get on with them ok, do they allow enough time to meet you properly and show you around. It’s best to spend half a day, or even a full day at the clinic. If it’s a mixed practice, take your protective clothing along so you can go on calls if necessary.

Be on time and look smart!

You shouldn’t just have a ½ hour interview – the clinic may feel they are able to make a snap judgement about you in that time, but they may get a false impression, and you certainly can’t get a good impression of them in that time. If that is what they offer, ask if you can spend the rest of the day at the clinic anyway.

Many clinics will pay your accommodation and travel expenses if necessary for an interview, within Australia.

Practice your interview technique with your family and friends – don’t use clinics to get interview experience. Only accept interview opportunities if you are really serious about your job application.


Make sure you do some research about the clinic or company that you are applying for a job with. Look them up online; check out their website, opening hours, Facebook page, Instagram account. They’re probably going to be looking you up! Phone the clinic and chat to the receptionist or the vet nurse who answers the phone, or ask if you can contact any current employees, or the employee who is leaving. In addition, check out the local area if you’re anticipating relocating. Look up clubs, sports facilities, schools, recreational opportunities, & real estate.

Too many new graduates take a job, and then leave in under 12 months. You must make sure that it is the type of clinic that you would feel happy working in, and that you will get the support necessary to kick start your career.

  • Talk to the vet, ask them about the clinic – the type and proportion of work they do, any special interests, find out the shift roster, what equipment they have, is there a range of clinic protocols, do they do in house pathology etc
  • Talk to the nurses. Nurses are extremely important allies for recent grads. They often know more than you do about common problems and dealing with clients, and they are very familiar with clinic protocols. You need to be able to get on with the nurses and support staff.
  • Will they be able to support you as a new graduate adequately? Graduates vary as to the amount of support they need – you may need hands-on supervision for some procedures and not for others; will you be able to talk to another vet at any time if you need advice? Are the nurses fully qualified? Do they have a structured support programme for new grads?
  • Ask about the after-hours roster. In my first job, for the first month I didn’t have to do out of hours calls. Then, once I knew my way around, I was added to the roster, but with a 2nd vet to call if necessary. This is a very good way to ease you in gently and relieves your stress levels considerably (and those of the clients!).

Salary Expectations

At some point in your interview, you may be asked what your salary expectations are, or alternatively, it may be important for you to ask what the salary on offer is. Some employers may turn the question around and ask what you’re making now. If you don’t expect the question, you may have an awkward moment. Do as much research as you can so that you’re prepared. The Animal Care and Veterinary Services Award 2010 [MA000118] sets minimum hourly rates. New graduate salaries often stay close to the Award. Kookaburra Veterinary Employment’s 2019 Salary Survey is published at

You could say something like “according to my research, my understanding is that $60-70K per year is typical based on the role and requirements” or if you want to delay answering, “I’m more interested in finding a position that’s a good fit for my skills and interests. Could we talk about salary once I’ve heard more about the job on offer?”.   Be honest; be realistic, and don’t sell yourself short. It’s also important to look beyond the Salary figure – look at any additional benefits such as training & bonuses. If you think you’re currently being underpaid, let them know what you’re being paid at the moment, but that you know from research that other vets are getting a certain amount at this level, and why you believe that you are worth it.

Getting a job offer:

If you are offered a job, you don’t have to accept immediately – it’s ok to let them know you have other interviews and wait to see what else you are offered. However, please keep the surgeries up to date with your plans and if you are going to turn them down, tell them so. It is not good practice to accept a job, and then continue to attend other interviews in the hope of getting a ‘better’ job – and then calling the first practice a week before you are due to start work to tell them that you won’t be turning up after all. Behaving in this way will hurt your future job prospects and your reputation.

If you accept a job, ask for a firm offer letter in writing to avoid misunderstandings. If a clinic won’t give you a firm offer or messes around, then don’t take the job! They probably wouldn’t be very good to work for.

You can also request a contract or similar document stating your conditions of work.

A General Note of advice:

Don’t restrict your search to your local home area – be prepared to travel. Although new grads do need a lot of support, sometimes it can be better to move right away from home so that you can concentrate on settling in to your new job, getting to know the people you work with, joining in local activities etc.


Wendy Nathan
Kookaburra Veterinary Employment

This information includes the views and opinions of Kookaburra Veterinary Employment and is of a general nature only. Factual information is believed to be correct at the time of writing, however, should not be relied upon and any person should confirm details with the relevant authorities and through their own research prior to acting on any of the suggestions in this article.

Job search representation

15/06/2020 |

X-ray Developing Tank

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  • X-Ray TankX-Ray Tank2Hardly used
  • 3 sections
  • Heater / Thermometer included

Asking price:  $250.00

Contact Diane Whatling at Veterinary Health Centre Adelaide

Tel: 08 8313 1930

10/07/2019 |

Vet Practice Showcase: Top 3 Design Trends

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Trends can be tricky. Do you get on the bandwagon and risk looking out of step if everyone else moves on, or should you just keep it safe and go for something tried and tested?

We’ve done the hard work for you and picked out the most successful trends shaping the design of new veterinary practices. These popular design trends can help your practice to meet both your needs, and your clients’ needs, and will see you in style now and well into the future.

Here are our top three picks, and some great examples of these trends translated into reality in some of Elite’s recent vet clinic fitouts.
Making a good first impression.

Waiting rooms have seen a big change in recent times from a collection of plastic fold up chairs and a receptionist sectioned off behind a high counter in the corner to a more considered space to welcome clients.

Much more attention is being paid to the design of this important space to ensure clients start off their vet visit in a positive way. Waiting areas are now being designed to act more like a lobby, with attractive and comfortable seating, refreshment stations (for both pets and their owners), and often a retail section for some idle browsing while waiting.

Doing more with less:

While not necessarily a new trend, maximising the use of space will always be key. Even though you may have the room and budget to build a bigger practice, furnishing, maintaining and paying for more utilities in this larger space may put pressure on your business in the long term.

Smaller spaces can often be better – if they are designed well. This is particularly true with consulting rooms – they don’t need to be particularly big, and function most efficiently if everything is within easy reach.

The Natural Vets is just over 150sqm in size, but despite being on the smaller side, the clinic over-delivers on both form and function. With its specialised holistic approach to veterinary medicine, the practice’s overall aesthetic is calm, warm and positive – and this is evident throughout the clinic’s design, both in configuration and in visual selections.

Reedy Creek Vet definitely makes an impact with its expansive reception and waiting area. High ceilings, structural beams and concrete walls are a key feature of the reception area, delivering on the industrial-inspired design that is featured throughout the practice.

The matt finishes and monotone colour scheme are complemented by the glass-dominated walls of the waiting area, which allows plenty of natural light to stream into the space.

The practice’s ample natural lighting meant that the Elite team could take advantage of perimeter window positioning, creating both a sense of space, and a bright, ambient environment. In the consulting rooms, foldable examination tables were installed to make the smaller spaces work efficiently.

Injecting personality:

While décor featuring stark white walls and plenty of stainless steel looks nice and clean, it can also look too sterile and lack any personality.

Vet practice owners are increasingly looking to appeal to the personal taste of potential clients in the area and are designing their practices to suit. The options are endless and will vary greatly depending on your location and surrounding demographic.

Popular design trends of late include industrial (typically in urban areas), coastal chic (a fitting choice for tropical locales), and more classic décor (which can suit a number of locations and demographics).

Another way of adding personality without committing to a certain style is by adding pops of bright colour through seating and accessories that can easily be changed out if you want to update your décor.

The vision for the refurbishment of Racecourse Road Veterinary Hospital was to meet the clinic’s promise of treating your fur family “as if they are their own”, by delivering a space that is warm and inviting. Shades of blue and grey were used throughout the hospital, along with fresh white accents.

And light wooden flooring, providing a friendly and welcoming feel for clients.

The reception and waiting area feature brightly coloured chairs and cartoon-like animal prints to add a sense a fun to the space.

Learn More:

Are you thinking of refurbishing your vet clinic, or opening up a new practice?

Take a look at some of Elite’s recent vet fitouts, or talk to the team about your plans.

Tel: 1300 765 344

22/01/2020 |

Superannuation In Brief – Australia

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Piggy BankSuperannuation is money put aside and saved while you’re working, to provide an income later in life when you retire.

The Superannuation Guarantee

In Australia, Employers must pay Super (the Super Guarantee) for

  • employees 18 years or over, and being paid $450 or more (pre-tax) in a calendar month
  • employees under 18 years, being paid $450 or more in a calendar month, and working more than 30 hours a week.
  • some contractors paid primarily for labour, even if they have an ABN

The Super Guarantee is currently 9.5% of ordinary time earnings – this includes some bonuses, allowances, some paid leave, but not generally not overtime. It will increase to 10% from July 2021 and eventually increase to 12% from July 2025. Employers are obliged to contribute this minimum percentage, but can contribute more. Full time, part time, and casual employees are all included.


Contributions must be made on at least a quarterly basis, by the quarterly due dates. Employers must pay and report super electronically in a standard format and meet SuperStream requirements, and pay into a complying super fund.

If not paid on time, the super guarantee charge may be payable. An employee’s super contribution is counted as being paid on the date the fund receives it, not the date a clearing house receives it. This means that if a quarterly payment is due on 28th October for example, payment may need to be made up to 10 days prior.

If the accounting system used by the employer is not SuperSteam compliant, small businesses (19 or fewer employees) can use the free Small Business Superannuation Clearing House. There are also other commercial options, or use a clearing house provided by your Super Fund.


Many Vets work as contractors, have an ABN (Australian Business Number) and invoice clinics for their work. However, for Superannuation purposes, they may still be considered an employee and entitled to the Super Guarantee from their employer if they are paid wholly or principally for their labour and skills, perform the work personally, and are paid for hours worked, rather than to achieve a result. To work out whether super applies, use the ATO tool at

Temporary Residents

Temporary Residents ARE entitled to the Super Guarantee. This includes Working Holiday Makers.
When Temporary Residents leave Australia, they may be entitled to claim the super paid for them back, as a DASP – Departing Australia superannuation payment. For more information visit

Additional Contributions

You can add your own money into your super savings, and low or middle income earners may be eligible for government co-contributions.
Employees can initiate a salary sacrifice arrangement with their employer (pre-tax), or make their own personal contributions. There is a cap on Concessional contributions (which includes Super Guarantee payments from your employer), currently $25,000.

Tax on Super

Concessional Contributions – 15%

These are super contributions made before tax, and include super guarantee from an employer, salary sacrifice, personal contributions claimed as an income tax deduction. The cap on concessional contributions is currently $25,000 – more than this attracts extra tax

Non-Concessional Contributions – not subject to tax

These are super contributions made after-tax eg. spouse contributions or personal contributions not claimed as an income tax deduction. There is a cap on these too.

Keeping Track of Super using MyGov

Employees can nominate which Super fund they wish to have their contributions paid into – they should fill out a Standard choice form and provide it to the employer. Employees can now create a myGov account which is a central portal to which you can link Medicare, Centrelink, Child Support, ATO (Australian Taxation Office), My Health Record & other government agencies. You need a fair amount of information in order to link these agencies all in to your account, so make sure you have all your paperwork handy. Once done, you can see what Superannuation Fund accounts you have and keep track of them through the ATO link in MyGov.

More Information

For more information about all aspects of super for employers and employees, including how to find lost super, visit


Wendy Nathan
Kookaburra Veterinary Employment

This information includes the views and opinions of Kookaburra Veterinary Employment and is of a general nature only. Factual information is believed to be correct at the time of writing, however, should not be relied upon and any person should confirm details with the relevant authorities and through their own research prior to acting on any of the suggestions in this article.

13/03/2019 |

2019 Salary Survey Results – Part 3 – On Call & Salary Extras



1.     On Call / After Hours Payments

In the 2017 Kookaburra Salary Survey, respondents said that they would be interested to know how vets were being paid or compensated for on call work / after hours duties, and for being ‘on call’.

To download this Report as a printable pdf please click here

Out of Hours compensation types

% Professional Fees

69 % of respondents who told us what percentage of professional fees for after hour work they received (127 vets) got 50%. 10% of respondents got 100%. The rest varied from 10% through to 90%. There was a range of how this was calculated – some commented that this was not including GST. Others had a sliding scale depending on the type of service eg.

  • 46% surgery/consult/bandaging, 23% anaesthetics, fluids.
  • 75% consult fee, 100% procedure costs, 0% medications.
  • 100% of professional fee. This includes consult/call out fee and surgery fee.  Does not include radiology, anaesthesia, fluid therapy, hospitalisation.
  • 50 % of exam fee and professional fee only. No other percentage for professional fees- eg xrays fluids etc
  • 50% of professional fees (consult, X-ray, surgery, hospitalisation)

Only one person commented that they didn’t get paid until the client had paid.


Retainer value

The value of a Retainer paid for after hours work varied considerably. Some respondents commented that they ‘lost’ the retainer once they attended a call, if they were receiving additional payment or a % of fees for the call-out. The Award allowance is currently $43.64 for each 24 hour period on call.

Hourly Rate

Some vets received an hourly rate for out of hours work – possibly considering this work as ‘overtime’. The Award does actually now include guidelines for paying overtime, but it’s unclear when these rates should be applied and what the difference between out of hours calls and overtime is. Examples of comments included:

  • 20% loading;
  • 30% loading;
  • 15% loading on base hourly rate for overnight, Friday nights. 1.5x on Saturday and Sunday. 2x on public holidays.
  • Double time
  • ‘same rate even if after hours’
  • Government – ‘ after hours / overtime pays 1.5 -2x normal Rate’

Fee Per Call

12% of respondents received a fee per call-out. This probably varies according to the after hours consultation fee set by the practice.

16 vets gave an indication of the fee they received, and it varied from $50 to $500.

($50 ,  $60 ,  $66 ,  $100 ,  $120 ,  $125 ,  $130 ,  $140 ,  $146 ,  $150 ,  $181 ,  $185 ,  $200 ,  $215 ,  $375 ,  $500 )

Unpaid / Part of Salary

7% of respondents (14 vets) were unpaid for after hours work, or had no additional compensation because it was considered ‘part of their salary’ , ‘expected as part of the job’, ‘reasonable unpaid overtime’. We didn’t collect information about the amount of after hours work performed by these vets.

2.     Salary Package Extras

We asked what kind of extras do vets receive in their salary package – respondents could choose multiple options from a preset list, and could also add their own comments. 452 vets responded.

Salary Package Extras2

There was no statistical difference between the extras received by vets working in corporate practices, and vets working in non-corporate practices, apart from Vehicle or vehicle costs – only 11.54% of respondents working in corporate practices received vehicle benefits compared to 24.07 % of respondents working in non-corporate practices.

When comparing vets classified as Full Time compared to Part Time, vets working in a full time vacancy were more likely to receive Board registration, AVA membership, and Vehicle costs.

Female Vets were more likely to receive Parental leave (11.11%) compared to Male Vets (5.08%)

We asked for extra information, and for information about any other types of benefits received, and this included the following:

  • Some vets receive a monetary allowance per year, to be spent on CE or other appropriate bills, ranging from $1000 to $2000 per year
  • Massage/acupuncture
  • VIN membership – this was commonly mentioned
  • CVE membership
  • AVA interest group memberships (ASAVA, EVA etc )
  • VDA membership
  • VECCS membership (Vet Emergency & Critical Care Society), Vetstream,
  • Beer
  • Christmas bonus
  • Extra Superannuation (above 9.5%) and option for salary sacrifice
  • Mobile phone or phone allowance
  • Extra holiday (in addition to 4 weeks standard leave)
  • Parking discount, Tollway tag
  • Pet Insurance, pet health care plan
  • Clothing allowance
  • Insurances – Income Protection, Professional Indemnity,
  • Radiation License
  • Rostered days off
  • Sponsored Visa

© Copyright Kookaburra Veterinary Employment

2nd September 2019


04/09/2019 |
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