How do I decide which post to take?

Information about qualifications, experience and the typical career path
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How do I decide which post to take?

Post by maven » Wed Aug 13, 2008 9:44 pm

If you are lucky enough to be offered more than one possible job, this wiki is about some things that you might want to consider in weighing up your decision about which post to take. With the exception of the first section, these ideas for consideration should apply equally at all stages of the career path from the 'first foot on the ladder' jobs to qualified posts within clinical psychology, and might also be relevant to consider in related careers.

How much will the post help you towards getting on clinical psychology training?

There isn't an exact formula for working out which post will help the most in applying for clinical training. However, in general terms, posts that involve contact with a clinical psychologist are valued more highly, with posts that are directly supervised by a CP being seen as the ideal. This might include AP posts (research, clinical or a combintation of the two), GMHW or IAPT type posts. You also benefit more if the post compliments your existing experience (eg adding research or clinical work that you have not previously done, or working with a different client group, service delivery template or dominant treatment model). Posts that are substantial also tend to be valued more, so generally the more hours per week the better (full-time hours allow you to gain five times the experience of a post that is only one day per week). Permanent or longer fixed term contracts also allow you to gain a thorough understanding of a particular area (a year in post is often seen as the benchmark). The post also needs to be relevant to mental health, so clinical roles need to involve contact with people with mental health problems or psychological aspects of related conditions that CPs work with (ie learning disability, head injury, dementia, physical illness, crime, social deprivation) and research would need to be on a clinically relevant subject and/or client group (with bonus points if it can lead to the extra kudos of a publication or conference presentation).

How much will you enjoy the post?

This is a really important consideration, so don't leave it out when thinking too much about how far the post will get you, or how much it pays. If you enjoy the job you will get the most out of it, and not feel like you are marking time or 'ticking boxes' against your imaginary ideal for clinical training. Ask yourself:

- Do I want to work with this client group?
- Do I like the feel of the team?
- Do I respect and feel comfortable with my supervisor?
- Do I like the way that the service works?
- Do I believe in the aims of the project or role?
- What will the role actually involve?
- Does the job description make me feel excited or enthusiastic?
- Did the previous post-holder enjoy the role, or do colleagues seem happy?
- How much autonomy and flexibility is there (more isn't necessarily better, its just worth matching this to your personal style or developmental needs)
- Do you like the model of service delivery or dominant therapeutic stance?

Terms and Conditions

You also need to consider the terms and conditions of the post:
- Does it pay well enough for me to manage financially?
- Is it a permanent contract?
- If it is a fixed term contract, is it long enough to be worth relocating or giving up other commitments for?
- Do the hours suit my lifestyle?
- Is it conveniently located (can I manage the time and cost of getting there)?
- Do I get enough leave time?
- Is there protection if I need to take long-term sick leave or maternity leave or in event of redundancy or the organisation closing?
- Can I join a pension scheme? (its never too early to start making provisions for retirement, and the NHS scheme is one of the best in the world. The sooner you join the better value it is as pension contributions are determined by pay, but the amount you get out is currently determined by final salary)

Does it suit you?

- Does the post compliment your existing skills and experiences?
- Do you feel like you will learn a lot from it?
- Will there be things that stretch and challenge you?
- What are the CPD opportunities?
- Are there other psychology graduates, trainees or people of a similar level of experience around for you to network with?
- Are there connections to local CP training courses or other academic links?
- Did you enjoy the interview or feel that they gave positive feedback?
- How will the post affect your relationship, family or significant others?
- Will the post let you make or retain social connections?
- Are you already living locally? If not, what kind of housing is available in your price range?


If you are undecided, toss a coin. If you are pleased or disappointed by the result then let that make your decision!

Note: If you have a suggestion about how to improve or add to this wiki please post it here. If you want to discuss this post please post a new thread in the forum. There is information about the structure, rules and copyright of the wiki here.

Content checked by qualified Clinical Psychologist on 13/08/2008
Last modified on 18/07/2009

Wise men talk because they have something to say, fools because they have to say something - Plato
The fool thinks himself to be wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool - Shakespeare

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