Don’t let the recruitment process get between you and your next step in your medical career. Yes, there are forms to be filled in, interviewers to impress and criteria to meet. But if you’ve got the ambition, motivation and skills for a particular position, you’re well on the way to securing it.
Of course, you’re probably not the only person who feels that way. So how do you give yourself the edge, that extra few percent that puts you at the top of the selection list? There are no shortcuts to success in medical recruitment, but there are plenty of opportunities to score the bonus points needed to stand out from other applicants.
1. Network, network, network
Often when jobs are advertised, the recruiter already has an idea of who may apply for it, and could even have an ideal candidate in mind. If that’s you, well done on getting a head start.
One of the most effective ways to get yourself noticed is to network. It may sound contrived, insincere and even scary, but networking is something we all do naturally, even if we don’t realise it.
Networking is simply talking to people. You tell them a little about who you are and what you do, and they do the same. It’s the conversation that happens in coffee lounges, at bus stops and in bars all the time. Badge it ‘networking’, make it an event, and you’re guaranteed to scare away the people who don’t ‘do networking’.
Take every opportunity to talk with people. Don’t be shy of making conversation with those more senior, and find time for those at every level. News travels by surprising routes so if you want to stay informed about all kinds of opportunities, it pays to be well connected.
2. Learn to identify your achievements
Every medical career action – writing a CV, completing an application form or attending an interview – requires you to sell yourself. This can make you nervous if, like so many people in the medical profession, you don’t consider selling as your ‘thing’.
You can relax, at least just a little. The only ‘selling’ required in recruitment is for you to tell the truth about yourself. You just need to structure it in a way that highlights your strengths and abilities.
The best way to do this is to become aware of your achievements. We all have them, but too often we overlook our own. An achievement is simply where you made a positive difference. Where being you, as a medical professional, caused something good to happen.
Think about your achievements and write them down. Try to quantify how you made a difference in terms of, say, operational efficiency, cost savings, quality of patient experience or research outcomes. Don’t be all British and say ‘anyone in my job could have done that’ because it was you in the job and you did it.
When you’re applying for a new job, it falls to you to promote yourself. Having a prepared stock of achievements to talk about will distinguish you from most, if not all, of the others applying for that same role.
3. Write yourself an outstanding CV
Never undervalue the importance of your CV to your medical career, because when it comes to jumping the first recruitment hurdles, it’s often all you’ve got. If you need to complete an application form, treat it as if it were your CV, just laid out in a prescribed format.
Before putting a word on your CV, take a moment to research the style that’s preferred in your speciality and, ideally, preferred by the hirer. If you’ve never written a medical recruitment CV, don’t be afraid to ask colleagues and contacts if you can have a look at theirs.
The presentation and content of a CV are equally important. Simple and clear layout is best, with plenty of white space and no big blocks of text. Use a single text style, that’s easy on the eye, and use bold and lines to make the different sections stand out from one another.
Don’t assume that your CV is going to be read word for word before it’s decided whether to shortlist or ditch you. Put the key points relating to the position you’re applying for at the top, so the reader will quickly see that you’re worthy of an interview.
4. Invest time in research
Are you confident of why you really want that job? Interviewers know that the best person for a role has an outstanding combination of skills, experience and passion. To prepare for your interview, you should carry out research, and the first subject should be yourself. Understanding your own motivations helps you explain to others why you’re ideal for that position.
After that, do all the research you can about the hospital, medical centre or other environment where the job is based, the nature of the role itself and your potential bosses. The more you know, the better prepared you can be for whatever questions the interviewers throw at you.
You know your research has been comprehensive when you’re confident your abilities and motivations are an excellent fit for the job, and can convince a recruitment panel of why the position has your name on it.
Give yourself the opportunities you deserve
However thoroughly you prepare, and however qualified you feel you are for the job, there are no guarantees in the medical recruitment process. Selection panels make their choice based on a host of considerations, not all of which you can anticipate.
But you can give yourself the best possible chance by being ready for those medical career opportunities when they come along. Plan ahead, don’t let the dust settle on your CV and prepare thoroughly for interviews, and you’ll be well positioned to secure that dream job.