Top 10 Tips for Securing the Perfect NHS Job

I recently wrote a post on social media about the difficulties faced by IMG doctors in finding their first role in the NHS. It inspired us to post s...

I recently wrote a post on social media about the difficulties faced by IMG doctors in finding their first role in the NHS. It inspired us to post something more substantial and put together a video to keep you all inspired to keep going. Here's the original post:

“I’ve applied to 100 jobs and still no response”

This is a message I get every day of the week from junior IMGs who have spent years working hard to pass their exams and get GMC registered. They can’t understand how there is such a huge and widely publicised shortage of doctors in the NHS but they aren’t getting selected for interviews.

To a lot of them it feels personal. It’s like they’ve put in so much energy and effort pursuing a dream but the NHS aren’t interested. They feel rejected and downbeat. They feel like they’ve wasted their time and money with nothing to show for it.

To others it’s more than that. They’re leaving a country where they feel unsafe or even persecuted. They’re desperate to get out.

So what's the problem?

Well here’s the reality we hear every day from the other side. From speaking to lead consultants, clinical directors, hospital managers and HR teams. And this is consistent across every department in every hospital across the UK.

The reality is that the struggle for NHS departments starts at the most senior level and in the most niche areas. It’s not that departments don’t need junior doctors or generalists, it’s simply that they need Consultants and specialists far more.

Add to this that resources are limited not just clinically but operationally in the NHS. This means that HR departments are contending with varying demands from multiple departments and spinning plates just as much as any clinical team. So they are given the impossible task of having to prioritise senior jobs they will struggle to fill over those they can.

And when junior vacancies are advertised we’re told by Trusts that they receive over 100 applicants. On first glance a great position to be in however the issue arises in the time it takes to sift, shortlist and process such huge amounts of doctors.

If a post is advertised for four weeks and another four weeks pass by before interviews are scheduled it’s no surprise that HR departments are then left disappointed that the select few (usually highly qualified or UK experienced Doctors) who are invited to interview have accepted other jobs in the meantime. And so we go from a successful advert with hundreds of applicants to a post still unfilled two months later (and hundreds of disappointed IMGs).

And what's the solution for IMG Doctors?

If you’re an IMG doctor and want to give yourself the best chance of beating the broken and stretched system to securing a role faster here’s the rules I would live by:

  1. Your CV is your best friend. Use our template and don’t deviate. I get about 200 CVs a week sent to my inbox and at least 180 should be scrapped and rewritten. It shocks me how wrong people get it - there’s terrible advice out there (often coming at a fee!?) from people who have either applied to the NHS once or never in their career. We never send a CV to the NHS in any other format than our template and it yields hundreds of approvals monthly.

  2. Don’t just sit PLAB. There’s a huge focus on getting past this milestone but with thousands of successful PLAB passers every year, it’s not enough on its own. The single best way to stand out is to sit an early part of a royal college exam (MRCP 1 for example). It shows you are committed to that pathway and stands you out from doctors applying to multiple specialisms who hospitals usually lose to other jobs 6-12 months later. It’s a sign that you’ve made your mind up and started the specialist journey even if it’s very early on.

  3. Supplement with courses - ALS, BLS, safeguarding or anything useful and recognised will really set you apart. These might seems basic and they aren’t overly expensive or time consuming to complete but they’re an indicator of high standards and safety. For Trusts employing juniors for their first NHS job they want to know they’ll be getting a safe pair of hands above anything else.

  4. Don’t just look at NHS jobs. Check out NHS Scotland, NHS Wales as well as the BMJ and agency websites for jobs there too. It sounds obvious but there are some gems to be found outside of England and they’re often far less competitive because IMGs tend to fixate on the ‘shiny’ locations like London, Manchester and Birmingham. The UK is a small place and you would barely know the difference from one town or city to the next so broaden your horizons.

  5. That said, only ever apply to jobs you actually intend to accept. Remember earlier, I mentioned hospitals receiving hundreds of applicants only to get let down by the select few who are offered in the time it takes to shortlist such a huge candidate list - well don’t be that let down and don’t waste someone’s time! You’re holding up the process and potentially blocking a job for someone else. By all means apply to all jobs you’ll go on to accept but never apply to a role you aren’t committed to.

  6. Once you have accepted a role, withdraw from all other jobs to make way for others. It’s courteous and the right thing to do. Around the same point, don’t accept a role and then wait on better alternatives or even change your mind. Accepting a job is a commitment that you shouldn’t renege on. Departments are counting on you and time, effort and money will have gone in to the process of offering you a job. Furthermore you’re blocking a job for another IMG and that’s just not on!

  7. Accept that it’s going to take time. Patience is a virtue as they say and you will need to learn that nothing in the NHS moves quickly. It’s a bureaucratic beast of an organisation that creeps slowly towards its goals whilst having to tick a lot of boxes along the way! You’ve probably spent at least a year preparing for your GMC so build this extra time for job searching in to your expectations to avoid disappointment.

  8. Keep going. Never give up on your dream. The NHS are short of roughly 10,000 doctors and the whole system is in need of doctors. It’s easy to feel rejected or play the blame game but think about all of the above factors and keep a positive mental attitude throughout.

As a final point, I also get messages every day of the week from doctors who tell me that it took a while but they finally found their dream job. Sometimes they get lucky and it takes weeks but sometimes it’s several months after we first speak.

How can BDI Resourcing Help?

With agreements in place at over 100 NHS Trusts and having placed over 1500 medical doctors with only 5-star reviews, registering with us could vastly improve your chances of securing the perfect job in the NHS. We'll be on hand to help you prepare your CV, arrange your interviews, prepare you for success and help you all the way through to joining the NHS.