Shocking true confessions - My Selection Hell

Discuss any aspect of applying for posts or courses (apart from the clinical psychology doctorate which has its own forum section), CVs, application forms, etc
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robininthewind
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Re: Shocking true confessions - My Selection Hell

Post by robininthewind »

boayg wrote: Thu Jun 11, 2020 2:29 am 15% are graduating this year, who are automatically screened out, thinking they will have a chance compared to others who have already graduated with more substantial experiences.
I am one of those applicants who are graduating this year. Can I clarify, you mean academic year right? So in September, I will no longer be screened out for this reason? (And yes maybe I'll keep being screened out for other reasons but we'll see!)

Also how do shortlisters tell if someone has graduated or not. I will be awarded my certificate on the 21st July, but of course no NHS recruiter would know that. If I just put BSc (Hons) Psychology 2017-2021, they might think I still haven't been awarded my certificate, even if it's the 22nd July. Should I put in my application at some point, 'degree awarded on 21/06/2021 with GBC' or something like that?

Thanks!
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miriam
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Re: Shocking true confessions - My Selection Hell

Post by miriam »

As it says in many places on the forum, there isn't a secret formula consistent across all shortlisters. It is just the result of market forces - the competition for these posts is very high, so the minimum criteria listed are often nowhere near as high as the threshold at which the top handful of people out of hundreds* of applicants are offered interviews. There is no rule about needing to have a period of time elapse since graduating. It is a guide about the level of experience required to begin to convert the theoretical knowledge you gained in your degree into practical applied insights about relevant populations. Even then it isn't a hard and fast rule that is agreed between different shortlisters, it is just a general rule of thumb that you will typically need to bring a year (WTE) of relevant experiences to an AP application to stand any chance of being shortlisted.

Every year lots of fresh new grads apply for these posts under the belief they are somehow special and will beat the odds, and then the vast majority of them end up feeling very disappointed and hard done by that it didn't work out the way they hoped. The truth is that there are massive numbers of psychology graduates competing for a relatively small number of jobs. There has been rampant grade inflation that means many applicants now have firsts, and more grads than ever before opt to pay for masters courses to try to get an employability edge. And there are people who worked before their degree, and people who work through it. So you'll normally be up against people with better qualifications and better experience, even if you got a good mark and have done some relevant volunteering or placements. Hence all the myriad of posts about how to apply for jobs and which jobs to apply for, and my blog entry about how not to apply for jobs in psychology to help people navigate this very challenge.

* about 200 is the typical level of applicants for a popular or NHS AP post (unless it is closed at 50 applicants, which might be a window of under an hour), meaning you need to be in the top 2-5% of applicants to be shortlisted, although some AP posts with private providers may only have 10-50 applicants, so these generally have a lower threshold to be invited to interview
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lakeland
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Re: Shocking true confessions - My Selection Hell

Post by lakeland »

I have recently been involved in shortlisting for a Band 4 AP post. A few reflections:

- there were a handful of people who didn't have a Psychology degree
- if you have a joint honours or overseas qualification, please tell me if you have GBC because otherwise I won't shortlist
- if you are based overseas or have a student visa, you need to explain if you have the right to work in the UK
- Don't do all your answers in caps lock
- I don't really need to hear about how great you are, please tell me why you would be good at this job
- If there is a screening question, complete it. Some good on paper candidates were rejected on this reason
- similarly don't tell me about how conscientious and meticulous you are if you missed that question
- Don't copy and paste a cover letter
- there is so much competition that if you haven't worked in that client group, you likely won't get shortlisted
- the job description / person spec is important, please be clear about your answer to each point because you will miss out on marks if you are not
- if there are multiple posts being advertised, I am more likely to recruit you if you don't have a preference, or at least if you say you would prefer x post but happy to be considered for y. We need to recruit to all posts, so need to interview people who would be keen to work in any role / service
- if you are newly graduated but with no relevant work experience, you probably aren't going to get shortlisted

Generally I find recruitment in the NHS difficult because it doesn't really allow for taking a chance on people who have written a good form but don't quite have the right experience. It's a tough world out there, same as it ever was.
alexh
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Re: Shocking true confessions - My Selection Hell

Post by alexh »

Having recently shortlisted for an AP post I'd agree with the majority of that but disagree with one point: I'd have no hesitation in shortlisting an otherwise good applicant just because they haven't worked with the particular client group or setting. Then they've got to demonstrate how they'd transfer skills at interview...

Partly this is an issue of policy, do you want people to go on to training with experience of multiple specialties or just one?
Last edited by alexh on Tue Oct 12, 2021 1:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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workingmama
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Re: Shocking true confessions - My Selection Hell

Post by workingmama »

Same as Alex, I'd agree with all the points above but I wouldn't differentiate between those with experience in a specific area, although I do distinguish between child and adult work.
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Geishawife
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Re: Shocking true confessions - My Selection Hell

Post by Geishawife »

alexh wrote: Tue Oct 12, 2021 1:29 pm Having recently shortlisted for an AP post I'd agree with the majority of that but disagree with one point: I'd have no hesitation in shortlisting an otherwise good applicant just because they haven't worked with the particular client group or setting. Then they've got to demonstrate how they'd transfer skills at interview...

Partly this is an issue of policy, do you want people to go on to training with experience of multiple specialties or just one?
I would partly agree, in that I wouldn't discard someone on the basis of not having worked with a particular client group. Where I differ is that I would also want to see the transeferable skills demonstrated on the application form rather than just at interview. And I know I'm an old fuddy-duddy, but poor spelling, grammar and punctuation mean your application will not make it past the first sift!
alexh
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Re: Shocking true confessions - My Selection Hell

Post by alexh »

Very true. Given the competition if you're not demonstrating the skills in the form you're unlikely to get to interview.
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ell
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Re: Shocking true confessions - My Selection Hell

Post by ell »

When shortlisting APs in my service the prior experience with the client group is important, and sometimes classified as 'essential'. But this doesn't haven't to be AP or even support work experience. I tend to stretch the criteria to include things like a one off shift in a relevant unit, or some voluntary experience, or did a relevant project at uni, or some overlap of client groups (e.g. if you've worked with people with LD who also have dementia). If the criteria don't include the client group as 'essential', i.e. it's just desirable, then it's anyone's game as long as they can demonstrate how they meet the person spec etc etc etc. If I see an amazing application that ticks all the boxes, but that person has never seen an older person in their lives, then that is a shame, but usually the good applications have managed to somehow show that they've worked with an older person in some way.
lakeland
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Re: Shocking true confessions - My Selection Hell

Post by lakeland »

Yes I should have said that this is a post in a child service, so when there are multiple candidates who have worked with children in some capacity (not necessarily clinical), experience with adults only probably isn't going to be enough to get you to interview.

If it was an (e.g) forensic post, then I wouldn't necessarily expect forensic experience but I would expect you to talk about the needs of that group in the application.
lakeland
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Re: Shocking true confessions - My Selection Hell

Post by lakeland »

alexh wrote: Tue Oct 12, 2021 1:29 pm Having recently shortlisted for an AP post I'd agree with the majority of that but disagree with one point: I'd have no hesitation in shortlisting an otherwise good applicant just because they haven't worked with the particular client group or setting. Then they've got to demonstrate how they'd transfer skills at interview...

Partly this is an issue of policy, do you want people to go on to training with experience of multiple specialties or just one?
Interesting point on the latter, I've had good trainees with pre training experience in a service, and I've had trainees with previous experience who think they already know it all. It's nice to get someone with solid skills who can learn about a new client group quickly.
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miriam
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Re: Shocking true confessions - My Selection Hell

Post by miriam »

I'd normally expect some experience of children, young people in our posts relating to children in care, because interest in and engagement with challenging children and young people is such a key skill to bring to these posts, but I also consider applicants who have worked in settings with adults with a trauma history and very complex needs, where links are drawn to the history of the individuals and the transferable skills gained. And in our fieldworker and research posts we are generally a bit more flexible - we've currently got an AP/fieldworker with work experience in investigative TV journalism, and then a project coordinator role, who clearly had tons of transferable skills and has proved to be brilliant in the post.
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miriam
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Re: Shocking true confessions - My Selection Hell

Post by miriam »

My latest round of shortlisting has been rather depressing so far. Too many applications that don't meet our essential criteria, and far too many that don't bother following the instructions. Very few have the required covering letter to explain how they meet our requirements, most covering letters that have been included are generic information about the applicant's aspirations, experiences and interests but tell us nothing about how they'd do our job. We've even had 3 who have claimed to have qualifications that they don't have! I'm starting to wish for paper applications, where the act of writing in the boxes required a bit of effort and thought...
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Geishawife
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Re: Shocking true confessions - My Selection Hell

Post by Geishawife »

miriam wrote: Sun Oct 24, 2021 3:58 pm My latest round of shortlisting has been rather depressing so far. Too many applications that don't meet our essential criteria, and far too many that don't bother following the instructions. Very few have the required covering letter to explain how they meet our requirements, most covering letters that have been included are generic information about the applicant's aspirations, experiences and interests but tell us nothing about how they'd do our job. We've even had 3 who have claimed to have qualifications that they don't have!
I hear you, Miriam! After 10 + years out of the NHS, I was quite looking forward to short-listing for an assistant in my new service and hoping the calibre of applications had improved in my time away. How saddened I was to see just the opposite! There were notable exceptions and we have recruited a fantastic assistant, but the general standard of application was depressingly poor.
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miriam
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Re: Shocking true confessions - My Selection Hell

Post by miriam »

Yeah, there are good people to appoint - so I definitely think the new crop of APs are as good as they have ever been - but a lot of applicants don't present themselves well. I wonder if the nature of making applying so easy online, and having so many psych grads means that there are many more applications that don't have the same expectation of tailoring their applications to the post. I also wonder whether the approach of some applicants reflects all the confidence of grade inflation and having been given only positive feedback, because they seem to genuinely believe that they are the best thing ever, despite their total lack of experience or relevant skills.
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Geishawife
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Re: Shocking true confessions - My Selection Hell

Post by Geishawife »

I guess it could be any or all of those things, but I do agree that grade inflation/positive feedback only is a huge issue. Having given some feedback to unsuccessful candidates, some were genuinely shocked that they were not the "shining stars" they believed themselves to be!
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