Every day the NHS cares for millions of people throughout the UK, undertaking around 820,000 consultations and 192,000 outpatient appointments. They receive almost 60,000 visits to accident and emergency departments, 14,000 emergency admissions, as well as 21,000 elective admissions and around 108,500 patients receive dental treatment.
To deal with this huge level of activity, there are currently 1.6 million people working throughout the organisation which, alongside McDonalds, Wal-Mart and the Chinese Armed Services, makes the NHS one of the world’s largest employers.
Because of its humanitarian and inclusive nature, treating the population without discrimination and regardless of economic and social standing, for many, being an employee of the NHS is a great source of pride and privilege. And, with more than 350 different careers on offer in both medical and non-medical capacities, new workers of varying skills and experience are taken on every year, with a very competitive application process deciphering who will be fortunate enough to join the fleet of NHS workers.
Read the job description thoroughly
Applying for an NHS role is not something to be taken lightly, so before you start your application, read the advertisement carefully, paying particular attention to the job description and person specification.
Whereas in many industries making a statement and trying to be different can be a great way to standout to employers, the NHS is renowned for being more conventional, and a well executed curriculum vitae and covering letter is still the preferred approach. Your application should demonstrate a thorough understanding of the role that you are applying for and the skills and responsibilities necessary to undertake it.
The NHS is not known for taking chances on their employees. If you are seen to not have the essential requirements, you will almost certainly not progress to the next stage of the interview process.
Due to the competitive nature of the application process, it’s also important that you present yourself to meet as many of the desired skills as possible.
Craft the perfect NHS covering letter
Again, contrary to many industries where attaching a CV to an email is the standard procedure, the NHS uses its own application process in order to ensure it seeks out the prime candidates for the role in question. However, adding a covering letter to your application can be an effective way to personalise it while providing you with an opportunity to discuss your motivations for applying for this particular role.
A covering letter is a way to highlight your relevant experience and the qualifications that make you the right candidate for the role. Keep the letter general and make reference to your application, where you can discuss your skill set in further detail. Consider the small details, spell the recipient’s name correctly and triple check your use of punctuation throughout your letter – attention to detail is a valuable asset to an organisation such as the NHS.
Complete a detailed application form
Consider the skills, qualifications and experience that you have gained in your working life and relate them to the role that you are applying for. Include specific duties and responsibilities, the skills and knowledge required for the role and, for the additional information section make sure to highlight any extra-curricular and voluntary work that you have completed. If you’ve worked in the NHS beforehand, now is the time to shout about this experience, such as familiarity with in-house systems and procedures etc.
Providing three years worth of references is mandatory for the application process however, you have the option to provide more. This should include people in positions of responsibility from your two most recent employers, who can make accurate comments regarding your competence, reliability and suitability for the post. Include contact details to avoid any potential delays to your application process.
Bear in mind that making a good first impression is vital and your application form will set the tone for your interview, and potentially your working life with the NHS if you are successful. Before submitting your application read through the form to check for any errors or omissions, as you will be unable to make any changes once the form has been submitted.
Scott Beaman is digital writer for Go to Job Board, specialists in non-medical and non-clinical jobs with the NHS.