What an equine Employer wants!
It is surprising how often we come across bewildered job seekers wondering why they are struggling to secure their ideal job. Sometimes the reason is obvious but other times less so.
No matter how experienced and qualified a groom you are, there can be many reasons things don’t always happen as quickly as you might like. Clearly 3 horses, 4 dogs and a magpie (yes really) won’t help, but the more subtle reasons usually take the eyes or ears of an invested recruitment expert! Here at The Grooms List by Caroline Carter Recruitment we are certainly invested and can quite quickly help you to identify what the blocks are and help you move forwards wherever possible.
Our team compilation ’employers wish list’ is not designed to be an exhaustive list by any means, but it does pretty much cover most of what we have heard over the years, hope it helps.
A Sneak Peak at an equine Employers Wish List…
by The Grooms List team
Sincere and genuine in the horse’s welfare and happiness and the yard’s specific goals is essential. If it is a discipline-specific yard e.g Eventing, Dressage, Showjumping etc then a passion for that sport and enthusiasm for following the horses progress through the levels is key to job satisfaction and employer confidence.
This, of course, depends on the individual job role. It might be experience in the discipline that yard focuses on or one which requires similar skills. If this is a Head Person or sole charge role previous experience doing just that is usually preferred. If the employer is willing to consider someone stepping up to Head Person this would only be for a candidate who has worked for several years as second in command and has a good level of skill in all areas needed.
Reliability and consistency
Employers want evidence via references and track record that you are someone who does what they say they will do it when they say they will do it and let’s face it, don’t we all want that in our lives? It’s easy to say but takes discipline, emotional maturity and a real understanding of why it is important to deliver on this to both employers, team members and the horses in our care, who we know are creatures who thrive on routine and consistency. It’s crucial for all concerned to feel secure, worry free and able to enjoy life. If you are due to do a late night check at 8pm or a morning feed at 7.30am then it needs to be done as agreed,when agreed, in the manner agreed and you need to be someone who can be relied upon to do that. If you aren’t or can’t do it, for whatever reason then you really shouldn’t sign up for the task in the first instance. When you are starting out in a job, be realistic about your lifestyle around the job and don’t sign up for anything you know you can’t deliver or you will trash your reputation with your employer and for the future. You can always try to negotiate to make sure you only sign up for such tasks when you can. The most prized employees possess these qualities are definitely chosen time and time again over those that don’t.
The employer will want to know that you can fit in well as part of the team, dealing well with both the colleagues you become friends with and those that you might not like. The ability to communicate and behave maturely in the workplace is vital. This is equally important in sole charge roles where you will need to work closely with the employer themselves and often their family too. They will always want a personable friendly character who can enhance their leisure time, not darken it with a grumpy moody character. Everyone is allowed an off day, but if that becomes you, of course, that’s a different matter.
For example, if this is a competition yard the employer will be looking for excellent turn out skills, possibly an HGV licence and competition grooming experience. For stud work they will often value experience foaling and handling young stock and stallions. For a rider job they will want to see your competition record and videos of you riding a range of horses of varying ages.
Stickability and emotional maturity…
Not only in the saddle, but IN THE JOB! Job longevity or proven stickability in previous roles is one of the most desirable attributes in a job seeker. Ideally 18 months to 2 years min. in each job. Of course, there are sometimes genuine reasons for moving on such as redundancy, downsizing, family illness etc. which is why as recruiters we go through your CV and list reasons for leaving (a top tip to add to CVs yourselves) so that employers can gauge if any such reasons are likely to occur while you are with them.
References from previous employers, either written and attached to your profile or contact details with permission to contact freely, offered by you for all of your previous jobs go a long way to convincing employers you are the outstanding character you claim to be.
We also find a really desirable attribute is emotional maturity… you have heard the saying “when the going gets tough…the tough get going”? We have examples of job seekers who, despite going through enormous personal difficulties, are steadfast have managed their way through some quite awful personal circumstances but who still conduct themselves maturely and professionally, and others who well, just don’t. If you find yourself in a negative situation then talk to us. We will happily talk it through with you and, we are often told, can be a real ‘port in a storm’. Some of you will be lucky enough to work for some decent employers too, so don’t struggle – there is always an ear and a cuppa somewhere if you look! All that being said, if you are someone who almost weekly seem to have a personal drama accompanied by a meltdown of varying degrees, this will affecting your performance and your relationship with those around. It will take its toll and you will have to address this to manage long-term, career-enhancing employment. Again, we are happy to talk about this and give you some hints and tips if required. Most of us have ‘been around the block’ so are not without insight. 🙂
Ability to use initiative…
Unless you are just starting out, or less experienced nobody wants someone they always have to “hand-hold” or that they’re constantly having to chase to get on with the job. Be honest – if once all the main tasks are done, are you someone who will use this every time as a great chance to nip off for a fag break and a cup of tea or someone who will get around to those jobs you ordinarily wouldn’t have time to do, (you can do them with a cuppa in hand on occasion!) When a problem arises do you stop to think for a second on how you can solve it or immediately give up and go do something else less brain taxing?
In an ideal world we would all work set hours, set days with holiday on tap to suit us. Sadly, this is not an ideal world. Good employers value flexibility and reward this with flexibility in return. Being helpful and working those few extra hours when they have a late lesson or arrive home late for a show is part and parcel of the job and it shows you care. Of course we are not advocating exploitation or underpayment here, just saying a bit of give and take as most of you know, goes a long way! Try to work in an environment wherein a positive sense that ‘what goes around comes around’ in terms of acknowledgement and reward. If this repeatedly turns out not to be the case, try to approach the subject head on but with tact (again happy to advise). If that doesn’t work, providing you have handled yourself correctly, then you need to consider your options.
Also, when it comes to booking holidays a little understanding of an employers schedule should be common courtesy and will stand you in good stead when asking for a favour in return.
Whilst a good many job roles will allow you to take your own horse or pets with you, in all honesty, it will always be the less you have the better. That said most employers will where possible be willing to be flexible on this and if there is room on their yard and they feel it will not interfere with your work commitments will be willing to consider one horse.
Similarly, a well behaved sociable dog is often a possibility. Any time you go into plurals it will become more of an ask. It is worth remembering that the property is often their home too and they already have however many horses, dogs, cats, chickens, magpies themselves!
By the way, we regularly hear complaints from yard owners about grooms not picking up after their canine companions. Don’t be that person… FiFi Trixabelle may be the cutest and squishiest pugdoodleshitzu but nobody wants to see or stand in her rather less than cute deposits which you have missed as she scoots around the place being cuteness personified but nevertheless, unsupervised. This is a recipe for disgruntlement, plus no one wants anything to happen to FiFi Trixabelle or accidents to other animals and people due to her free-ranging!
Of the many, many great jobs regularly featured on The Grooms List, why does a job in particular appeal to you? Employers want to know their job is something you truly desire and that you will be dedicated to it and remain enthusiastic about it for the long term. An employer will want you to WANT to be there because the job genuinely interests you, not just because it happened to come along, pays better than others or you couldn’t find anything better and found yourself running out of money!
To deliver ALL of the above could be tough, so before setting out on your search have it clear in your mind what the most important points are for you. Know what you are willing to compromise on, by how much and at what point in proceedings. Be clear on what points are non-negotiable from the start. We would always strongly recommend that job seekers go for at minimum a two-day trial before contracts are signed, as this gives both parties a chance to see if this will work out for them. For more information, see our article What is a job trial and why should I attend one?
Final word: There is much bad press out there about the working relationship between grooms and employers and we don’t buy into the “them and us” approach as if we are from two different planets. We hear the good and the bad and there is still a great deal to be positive about! Often times most situations could be resolved if both parties just took a step back and looked at things from the other sides point of view and we do a lot of a day to day basis to facilitate that.
In the right job, you should be working alongside someone towards shared common goals, together as a team. The world we live in is constantly changing and so too is the equine industry. We all should do what we can to make those changes constructive rather than to erode it or demolish it with negativity.