I haven’t seen much current advice for newly qualified (or near-qualifying) radiographers looking for work, so I thought I’d contribute, hopefully this will give a slightly different perspective to articles written by interviewers or academics.
The economy isn’t in a great state at the moment, and predictably, employment rates suffer. In particular, the current government made a nominal increase to the NHS budget this year, but along with “efficiency savings” and other reductions being made within Trusts, quite frankly, the NHS is facing a financial crisis. This means that the good old days seem to be over for now. You’ve probably heard the stories about radiographers basically being able to dictate where they work, and having job offers before even finishing the course. This doesn’t generally seem to be the case anymore, although the situation is marginally better for therapeutic radiographers. Here is my advice, based solely on my own experience and that of some of my friends. Please bear in mind I won’t be commenting on employment in the private sector; unless you’ve paid your own tuition fees I personally think it would be somewhat unethical not to “give something back” (yes, even if that means waiting longer for a job to appear).
Job hunting can be a full time job in itself; use every tool available to you to make this process easier and more efficient.
Sign up to the NHS Jobs website and create some searches based on where you’re willing to work. If geography isn’t a limiting factor you’ll obviously have more posts to choose from. These searches can be emailed to you, but they tend to get sent at the end of the day, and when I was applying, jobs were opening and closing within hours. In fact, one post I interviewed for was put up at 10am and closed by 2pm because of the number of applications they received. If you have a smartphone I recommend the following:
- Create some searches based on both locations, key words, and salary (this excludes getting constant emails about band 7 posts etc)
- Subscribe to these searches as RSS feeds rather than standard emails. This means that instead of getting an email at the end of the day (by which time it might have already closed) you get them as soon as they are posted. I used Blogtrottr to receive instant emails as soon as a job goes live.
- Apply ASAP! Seriously, don’t wait. Unless you’re not that fussed about getting a job, in which case, why are you reading this?
Have a generic application form filled in offline somewhere; this means that when you make your first application you can just make some post-specific amendments and then copy and paste it onto the application. This form is then saved for future applications- make sure you change it every time you apply for a different post. You’ve probably heard it a million times before, but it really is important that you make a bespoke personal statement for each post you apply for. Personally for my applications I would change the first paragraph to be specific about the post, and the rest was generic. I researched the local hospitals and wrote introductory paragraphs for each and saved them on my phone; this meant that when I got a Blogtrottr email, I was able to apply for it immediately on my iphone.
The job offer I ended up accepting came about from an application made whilst out riding; we had to canter to the top of a hill in search of a 3G signal so I could press send.
If you’re re-applying for a post, you can go back to your previous application and copy/paste your statement, making the whole process much easier.
If your university offered non-standard extra courses on top of your degree, it’s really important that you mention them in both your statement and in the “training courses” section of the application form, under Qualifications. My uni ran optional courses in FAST and venous access; if you’ve done something similar, show it off! I’ve heard that some particularly competitive employers filter applications by these fields, so if they’re blank you’ll be automatically rejected.
Some Trusts (for whatever reason) advertise posts on NHS Jobs but make you register and apply on their own recruitment websites. This can be a massive pain in the arse as it means re-entering all of your info, but again, if you want the job…
Don’t be disheartened if you (sometimes almost instantly) receive an automated rejection. Unfortunately it does seem to be partly a numbers game, so if you apply beyond a certain time, but before they officially close, you might get rejected without anyone even reading your form. Hell, for all I know some of them were rejecting every odd-numbered application.
Invitations to Interview
Woo hoo! Finally you’ve got an interview. Some employers will tell you the date and time, others just give you a date range and make you log on and get allocated a time slot. I accepted every interview almost immediately, meaning that for every one where I had to register for a slot I ended up with an early morning one. Bear this in mind if you’re travelling any distance.
Interview tips are in a separate blog post as I think I’ve droned on enough in this one!