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Thursday, December 28, 2006

Taking the piss out of ...

Hello and welcome to this edition of "Taking the piss out of ...". In this installment, I'll be sending up the veterinary want ads that appear every fortnight at the end of one particular illustrious American veterinary journal.

So you upcoming new graduates, listen up! Starting to look for your first job right about now, aren't you? Well, read on and sharpen your wits a bit as you join that fretful guessing game about your new potential employer. If you sign on and things completely turn to piss in the first three months, just rest assured you won't have been the only one. There's lots of other jobs out there, so always keep that CV in good working order!

As an aside, I went three years in my first job, six years in my second and am now quite happy in my third down here in New Zealand. None of my previous employers are inspiration for this piss-take (well, the first one probably was to some degree, heh) and I was fortunate enough to not have to quit my first job before the ink on my diploma dried.

On with the satire.

One thing that strikes me about reading through all of the job listings in the back of each issue of said journal is how, unless you know somebody who has worked for the people advertising, you'd have no idea which are good opportunities and which are nightmares in waiting. To read each ad, you'd think they were all dream jobs that have yet to be discovered and snapped up.

“But that’s the point of the ad, dumbass,” you might say.

I know. And no name-calling.

But still, I am always leery of looking for jobs this way without knowing a thing about my potential employers. You become a little desperate in trying to decipher just what kind of practice this will be when you are reading their ad. More importantly, you are trying to read between the lines to learn a little bit more about your potential future boss. There are clues in the way the ad is written, you just need to sleuth them out.

You may resort to stupid mental tricks when reading the ad, trying to make it sound like a genuinely good opportunity. Let’s say for instance the head vet’s name is “Dr. Alan Woodberry”*. You’ll think to yourself: “Oh, Woodberry… now that’s a pleasant sort of name. Kind of like berries… in a forest. How can they be bad? Berries are sweet and good for you, and forests, well – who doesn’t love nature? This guy must be a really great boss! How lucky I am to have found this ad.”

And so on. The guy just might be a total wanker. How are you to know?

Let's dissect a potential ad, one that may read something like this:

”We are a busy, progressive, exclusive small animal modern practice. We are located right in the heart of this gorgeous city but the mountains and the beach are only 20 minutes away in every direction. We are a progressive practice and have all of the toys including ultrasound, endoscopy, EKG, and a tono-pen. No after-hours calls as our fine city is served by a 24-hour emergency clinic. Come join our team! We have an excellent staff and seek a highly-motivated, enthusiastic individual to help manage our rapidly-growing clientèle. Salary negotiable and commensurate with experience. Contact us at 555-4242 to speak with Dr. Alan Woodberry* or email him at worldsfinestdogdoctor@yipee.com.”

Allow me to wield my ten-foot pole and open the trapdoors lurking within this seemingly innocuous want ad:

One phrase to watch out for is: “Modern, progressive practice with all the toys!”

Translation: I’m such a tightwad I went out and bought the cheapest, crappiest ultrasound and endoscopy equipment that I could find, or possibly scavenged it from the dumpster outside the local hospital or maybe bought it from some Kazakhstani guy on eBay. I’ll fully expect you to come in and use them like a pro without any training (unless you want to take your own time off and pay out of your pocket for it). You will do these procedures on your tiny lunch break when surgeries from the morning always run over and you will spend frantic minutes flipping through the ultrasound’s hopeless manual which looks to be better written in German than English. You will absolutely not be allowed to refer any cases to the local internist because now we have the same ‘toys’ they do so of course it follows that you naturally know everything they do. You have textbooks, don’t you? You have the phone number for your professors back in vet school don’t you? Anyways, don’t call me for help because I will be fishing or golfing and just can’t be bothered. If I find out you referred a case, no matter how happy the clients are and how well the pet does, I will very publicly and loudly call you into my office during morning consults so that I may sit you down across from me and glare and fume at you until you feel like you are experiencing the Spanish Inquisition. I will make you squeal and promise to never send a case away again, you thieving little bastard, and you will go back to using all of these ‘great’ toys I’ve provided for you.

Here’s another dangerous line: “No after-hours calls!”

Translation: Well, there is an emergency clinic in the area, and they are open when we’re ‘closed’ but you are not to use them in any way, as this is money out of my pocket. Sure, I’m not on call after hours, but you certainly are. But don’t worry: it’s just three weeknights and one weekend per week. Unless I’m on vacation, which is frequently, in which case you’re on call … well, constantly. You will carry a pager at all times and the clients call this pager directly, leaving nothing but a number. So you will call them back blindly, not knowing who they are or what kind of animal or problem they have. You will meet them at the clinic at any time of day or night and not have any staff there to support you – what do you think the owner is there for! Because I’m a gracious boss, for every case you see after hours, you’ll get a five dollar credit on your account. It may not sound like much, but you’re going to get called in A LOT so trust me you’ll have a solid line of credit going. (Credit is non-transferable)

Yet another: “We seek a highly-motivated, enthusiastic person to join our team!”

Translation: You better show up with your roller skates on, because we are going to work your sorry ass like a two-dollar whore. We’ll take all that newfound enthusiasm you’ll just be brimming with when you turn up for your new job and we’ll make you squander it so fast your head will spin. There will be no end to the triple-bookings and cases that we are tired of mishandling that we will gladly foist off onto you. Just when you thought you were getting a handle on the situation, we’ll take off for a five-day weekend, leaving all of our difficult cases unresolved and our clients left in the dark, so you’ll have to pick up the pieces while we’re off on a holiday. Yes, you had better be enthusiastic, you pathetic little gnat!

And don’t forget about this: “Salary negotiable and commensurate with experience.”

Translation: I have no intention of paying you what you are truly worth. In fact, I will probably put you on a performance-based income so that you will become a giant ball of stress as you constantly fret about competing with other doctors for cases, charging enough to pad your gross income without pissing off the clients too much, and wondering if you’re going to keep pace with the hospital’s rampant growth. I’ll offer you a lowball salary to start the ‘negotiation’ process off just right, and then gloat as you writhe in your chair, coming up with ways to increase your value to the practice. Yes, before I’m done with you, you’ll be publishing the hospital newsletter, dog-sitting for the clients, giving the old practice another coat of paint, creating public speaking opportunities to promote my practice on your own time, and making cold calls by going through the yellow pages to drum up business. For all that I’ll top up your salary another thousand a year. Haha!

And thus endeth the lesson. Hope you found something useful in there, and good luck to you in your searches. One day in the distant future, when I own my own practice, I just may have to advertise in one of them there journals. If I do, I'll expect you to know how to read between the lines, and then I'll use every trick in my power to decipher just what kind of graduate you are by reading through your CV.

How to do that, you may ask? That's another post for another day, foo'!

*No Alan Woodberry's were harmed in the creation of this post. Any resemblance to an actual Alan Woodberry, alive or dead, is purely coincidental. So deal.


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