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Career Advice

How your experience can make or break your NHS job application

When you’re looking for a job, the issue of ‘experience’ can often prove a decisive factor. It can work in your favour, or cause you to miss out.

This can be frustrating. On the one hand, it’s understandable that many roles, particularly in a sector such as healthcare, should require experienced staff. On the other, you can’t gain experience without someone giving you an opportunity to learn.

However, everyone’s got experience of something, and your challenge is to show how what you’ve learned elsewhere can be applied to this particular NHS role.

What sort of experience are NHS organisations looking for?

In the NHS, the level of experience required will depend on the sort of role you’re applying for. The organisation’s preference will also have a lot to do with it, and this is something that’s not always easy to predict.

There is no doubt that previous experience of the NHS will count in your favour. It’s a massive organisation with its own culture and systems, and prior experience of these will mean you stand a better chance of hitting the ground running. As you would expect, this is a huge advantage for many employers.

It should go without saying that if you have this experience, it’s advisable to highlight it prominently in your application.

What about candidates with no NHS experience?

While we’ve established that NHS experience is advantageous, it’s by no means essential.

Increasingly, the NHS is valuing broader skills, such as business experience in areas such as accountancy and IT. Candidates who can demonstrate a strong track record of driving change in any field will be useful to a healthcare department looking to phase in new systems and processes.

As we’ve already touched upon, the experience required for a role should become clear through reading the job description and requirements. Your task is to show how you meet those requirements, and also prove that your lack of NHS experience will not hinder you if you are given the job.

As a candidate coming from another sector, you will have experienced ways of working that may be new to the NHS. Change can be a good thing, so you should show how your experience and skills will be transferable. In doing so, you are also demonstrating knowledge of the NHS, which will show employers that you have been proactive and done your research.

What else are NHS employers looking for?

Whether your prior experience is NHS-related or not, you will need more than just one string to your bow if you hope to succeed.

An attribute all NHS employers value is passion. The thing about many of our non-medical roles is that the skills needed could theoretically be applied in a number of different sectors. So, why have you chosen the NHS?

If your application conveys a clear, genuine enthusiasm for the work carried out by the NHS, you will stand a much better chance of progressing. Whether you do this via a covering letter, or use the interview to let your potential employer know exactly why the the NHS is for you, it’s important you leave them in no doubt about your desire to contribute to the UK’s healthcare sector.

What next?

If you feel that you could make a valuable contribution to the non-medical side of the NHS, take a look at our latest hot jobs and see if there are any matching your skill set. You can also register with us and receive notifications about new job postings that match your requirements.


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