A piece of artwork that says 'Thank you NHS' with a rainbow over it.

December 14, 2023, by brzms6

Navigating the NHS job market: tips for a successful application

By Gemma Foxall, Careers Adviser

The Graduate Outcomes survey demonstrates that NHS recruits more University of Nottingham graduates than any other employer.  As such, we spend time investigating what the NHS are looking for in their applications and how you increase your chances of success.

Here are a few top tips from the NHS trusts who attended this years’ Nursing, Midwifery and Physiotherapy Careers Fair:

Understand the recruitment process

  • For the majority of roles in the NHS you will be asked to complete an online application form.  While there is some variation from trust to trust, most will require you to write a supporting statement to explain how you meet the essential and any of the desirable requirements.  
  • Make the most of, but don’t exceed, the full word count given.  If the word limit is 1500 words, aim for over 1400 words so that you give yourself every opportunity to articulate why you are the right candidate for the role.
  • Methodically work through the person specification to ensure you have commented on all the criteria (or as many as reasonably possible) and given detailed examples of how and when you have used each of those skills or demonstrated that knowledge.
  • Use the STAR technique to help structure your examples and provide the full context, reflection and relation to the role you are applying to.

Reflect on the NHS values and express how they resonate with you

  • Consider the NHS constitutional values. 
  • Each NHS trust will have its own values too – Team NUH are the values for Nottingham University Hospitals but make sure you research the values of the specific trust you are applying to.
  • Ask yourself how you have demonstrated these values in the past? What does each value mean to you/to the role you are applying to? How will you implement these values in the role you are applying for?

Contact the named person for the role you are applying to

  • On NHS jobs there is always a named person and their contact details in the box that says “For questions about the job, contact…”
  • This is your opportunity to ask useful questions about the role and the department so that you know this is the right opportunity for you.  This insight will also help you to better express why you are interested in the job in your written application and interview.  You could also ask if you can visit the department before you apply.
  • Yes, staff in the NHS are busy.  But they do want applicants to contact them with useful, carefully considered questions that will help them to recruit strong candidates to the right roles. 
  • Avoid asking questions that are easily answered by reading the job description or the trust website.

Demonstrate your enthusiasm for the role

  • A candidate displaying genuine enthusiasm for the role, and a commitment to learning and growing, is very important to recruiting managers. Recruiters shared with us, during the careers fair, instances where less experienced candidates were chosen for the role over more experienced candidates due to their higher level of enthusiasm. 
  • Research the role. To show your interest you should know about the role (see previous tip about contacting the department). Also, consider what are the current challenges for the trust? What is happening in the local community and/or government policy that might affect the role? 
  • If the role is patient-facing, learn about the demographics and characteristics of the patient population you would be working with.  Are there any specific needs or challenges associated with this patient group?  How might you manage these in the role?

For further support with your application, visit our Making Applications webpages.  You can also book a one-to-one appointment with the careers team via MyCareer.  

Posted in CVs and Cover Letters