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How to make the most of your application

Patrick Treasure Jones, recruitment manager

Untitled designI’ve worked in recruitment for over ten years now in a variety of large organisations spanning a number of different sectors, and have been working in the NHS for the past two years. It’s been very interesting to see the differences and similarities across the sectors, although in my experience, recruitment in most organisations is very similar - you’re always looking to recruit the best person into the best role. All the places I’ve worked have recruited based on their values, providing the template for the skills and experience they’re looking for, so it’s just about adapting to those different areas in different organisations.

Below I’ve outlined some of the key things you should keep in mind when applying for a post, be it at UHS, or at another organisation.

Before you apply

Research the organisation

Do some basic checks on not only the reputation of the organisation – knowing what services it provides, what size it is, what the culture of the workforce is – but even the logistical aspects of working there. Where would you be located? Our Trust isn’t based all on one site, so there’s a chance that you could be working at Southampton General Hospital, Lymington, parts of the New Forest or even in the centre of town. It’s important to know where you’ll be working, because you’re going to be travelling there to work every day.

Look at the person specification and job description

The person specification will provide you with the criteria you have to meet to be considered for the role, so really examine it to see if you meet the essential and desirable criteria. Don’t worry if you don’t match 100% of it – if you’re meeting around 75% of the essential criteria, but are really keen and enthusiastic about applying for that job, my advice would still be to apply for it!

When we’re hiring people, we’re not always looking for someone who’ll come into the role and hit the ground running. We always give a comprehensive induction and training to ensure new starters are able to perform their job successfully as quickly as possible. The right candidate will be able to bridge any gaps of experience with their enthusiasm and dedication.

The job description is there to tell you the tasks and activities you’d be performing on a daily basis in that role, so consider it carefully. If you read the description of the role and it doesn’t sound like the kind of environment you’d be comfortable working in, it may be worth exploring if there are other roles that we are recruiting to that would be a better fit for you. 

Have an informal chat or visit

We put the hiring manager’s contact details on every advert we publish, so if you want any additional information, you can give them a call or drop them an email. You may even be able to arrange an informal visit to take a look at the area you’d like to work in, which is something I always recommend candidates to do.

Not only are you building a relationship with someone who’s part of the recruiting process and showing your motivation for the role by giving up your own time, but you’re gaining a valuable insight into whether the area would be right for you - which is just as important. 

Writing your application

Write detailed, relevant responses

Your application is an opportunity to showcase yourself. We need to be able to tick through our shortlisting criteria and determine that you meet those criteria. What we won’t do is make assumptions when we’re reading applications.

If the person specification says that you need to be able to use Microsoft Office, for example, you need to explicitly say somewhere in your application that you can use Microsoft Office. That’s the level of evidence we’re looking for.

Tailor your application to the role

It’s always a good idea to adapt your application to meet the requirements of the specific job you’re looking at. We have many different roles available at the Trust, and you might see two or three that you’re interested in applying for, but I would never recommend submitting the exact same application for each job. It is very easy to see the difference between an applicant that is taking a ‘scattergun’ approach to applying, using the same application repeatedly, and one who has taken the time to tailor their application to the specific role.

Consider the values of the organisation

Our values run through the heart of everything we do, and the recruitment process is no exception. We’ll ask about the Trust values on your application form as well as at your interview, so it’s important to think about how to show that you understand and hold the same values as us and how those values are relevant to the role.

Applying for a job doesn't need to be a difficult process - and with these tips, you'll be able to show yourself as the best candidate you can possibly be, taking you one step closer to the next chapter of your career.