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
NotReally
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Re: Shocking true confessions - My Selection Hell

Post by NotReally » Wed Aug 08, 2018 2:03 pm

miriam wrote:
Wed Aug 08, 2018 11:10 am
For the record, I went to a comprehensive and a non Russell group university, so that isn't where I set my norms either.

But I do genuinely believe that the person's approach to the job shows in their application. Lots of mistakes suggests a person who is sloppy in their work and doesn't proof-read. Poor grammar and layout will mean I need to do a lot more work to get their reports up to scratch. Not following the directions of how to apply, will mean I have to work harder to explain expectations in the workplace. A consumer mindset in which they think I'll be lucky to have them and they can fire off any old generic CV means someone who doesn't see the post as an opportunity, or recognise that in a competitive climate this is a chance to learn and grow. It may not be literal in every individual case, but its the best steer I've got.
I would suggest that if I was ever in a position where I needed to supervise others in psych related roles, I would much rather have a few conversations with them about needing to proof read their work, than realise they are brilliant at grammar and punctuation, but are hopeless at interpreting the results of psychometrics.

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lingua_franca
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Re: Shocking true confessions - My Selection Hell

Post by lingua_franca » Wed Aug 08, 2018 2:15 pm

sking1310 wrote:
Wed Aug 08, 2018 1:53 pm
As someone who is very much struggling to get an Assistant Psychologist or equivalent. I understand that shortlisting can be arduous and there are probably many applicants that have only taken 5 minutes to submit a generic application, but among those applicants there are many that are trying really hard (like me) gaining experience trying to check all the boxes whilst trying to find the golden way to write an application that someone will actually pay attention to it. The recent posts just increase my dispair of just how little respect or understanding there is of graduates like me who have been working hard on tiny wages for years after graduation with very little guidance and resources to help them reach the shortlist for a job. I graduated 3 years ago and I have held honorary research assistant posts, senior healthcare assistant posts, 9 month maternity cover as an assistant psychologist which left me without a job as it ended suddenly and I am now an assistant psychological wellbeing practitioner. I value all of my experience, and I feel at the moment I am trying very hard to fulfill all of the specific points you have covered in this thread on my applications but after very little luck getting a job that will actually help me to progress I am at a loss. Without feedback on an application when not shortlisted how is anyone ever to know what they are doing wrong. Please just think if what you’re putting is going to be constructive and encouraging for graduates or is going to tear them down even more in the current climate.
I'm sorry you're having such a hard time finding work, and I do remember that struggle - I graduated into the recession, and I had caring responsibilities for a seriously ill relative that meant I could only job-hunt within a certain area. All the rejections felt pretty devastating after a while, and very difficult not to take personally, even though I knew that unemployment was high. So I can understand you feeling bruised. But I think you need to remember that the current APs and qualified CPs on this site will have taken the exact the same path you are taking now. They will have been support workers on low pay, they are likely to have experienced precarious short-term contracts and had to juggle honorary/voluntary work with the need to earn a living. They do understand, because they've been there. It's not that the career path has suddenly got more difficult.

As for absence of resources, this forum is itself a huge resource, which the CPs involved provide for free. The tips in this thread could help some people to rethink how they fill in application forms, even if those tips are things you already know. Yes, some posters here have expressed frustration with badly written forms - but is it helpful if CPs don't share how annoying it is to wade through 100+ applications that aren't tailored, are riddled with basic mistakes, or missing basic criteria like GBC? Not all applicants realise how demanding the shortlisting process is for the selectors, or understand how to make their application stand out for the right reasons. If you get that, then there is no need to take it personally if someone is frustrated over mounds of poorly done forms.
"Suppose a tree fell down, Pooh, when we were underneath it?"
"Suppose it didn't," said Pooh, after careful thought.
Piglet was comforted by this.
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miriam
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Re: Shocking true confessions - My Selection Hell

Post by miriam » Wed Aug 08, 2018 7:53 pm

sking1310 wrote:
Wed Aug 08, 2018 1:53 pm
As someone who is very much struggling to get an Assistant Psychologist or equivalent. I understand that shortlisting can be arduous and there are probably many applicants that have only taken 5 minutes to submit a generic application, but among those applicants there are many that are trying really hard (like me) gaining experience trying to check all the boxes whilst trying to find the golden way to write an application that someone will actually pay attention to it. The recent posts just increase my dispair of just how little respect or understanding there is of graduates like me who have been working hard on tiny wages for years after graduation with very little guidance and resources to help them reach the shortlist for a job. I graduated 3 years ago and I have held honorary research assistant posts, senior healthcare assistant posts, 9 month maternity cover as an assistant psychologist which left me without a job as it ended suddenly and I am now an assistant psychological wellbeing practitioner. I value all of my experience, and I feel at the moment I am trying very hard to fulfill all of the specific points you have covered in this thread on my applications but after very little luck getting a job that will actually help me to progress I am at a loss. Without feedback on an application when not shortlisted how is anyone ever to know what they are doing wrong. Please just think if what you’re putting is going to be constructive and encouraging for graduates or is going to tear them down even more in the current climate.
I think it is totally constructive to recommend people take the time and effort to personalise their application, and to proof-read it and lay it out in a way that is decipherable to the short-lister who only has two minutes to read each one. In fact, that's invaluable inside information that will help future applications. The fact that you are having difficulty with applications means that this should be just what you need to know, rather than something that makes you despair.

BTW I've been there and earned the low wages (in my case two years on a salary of under £9k from which I self-funded an MSc) and I'm sympathetic to that, but this isn't some cryptic code full of specific clues to a secret formula. It is open, straight-forward general advice to personalise the application to the post, and to put some effort into each application even if you then have to do less of them. And I have given feedback to every single person that has asked for it, for my entire qualified career, precisely because I think it helps people shape future applications. But few applicants ask for it.

NotReally wrote:
Wed Aug 08, 2018 2:03 pm
I would suggest that if I was ever in a position where I needed to supervise others in psych related roles, I would much rather have a few conversations with them about needing to proof read their work, than realise they are brilliant at grammar and punctuation, but are hopeless at interpreting the results of psychometrics.
These are not mutually exclusive skills. With 70+ applicants, I can both short-list on the basis of the form and covering letter, and then select someone with good social skills and the ability to apply their skills in practise.
Miriam

See my blog at http://clinpsyeye.wordpress.com

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Geishawife
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Re: Shocking true confessions - My Selection Hell

Post by Geishawife » Thu Aug 09, 2018 10:55 am

It's not a question of respect or understanding (or lack thereof), it's a question of frustration and sadness that people sabotage their chances by making the most basic errors. Of course I sympathise with the fact that people have to struggle in low wage jobs. I've been there, done that (in the days before the minimum wage, I might add!) and have no desire to repeat the experience. And it's because I've done that and learnt so much from it that I get all the more infuraitied when I see people sending in applications that tells me how great they will be in the PD service, when I work in the Older Adult service! Pointing things like this out is not disrespectful.

Like Miriam, I have always been happy to offer feedback, but people need to ask for it. With the best will in the world, it is logistically impossible to give personalised feedback to every applicant. If I have 90 applications, short-list 7, leaving 83 unsuccesful candidates, even if I only write a 10 minute spiel re their application, that's nearly 14 hours of my time! If people ask for feedback (and I never cease to be surprised at how few do!) I will give it, but don't expect it immediately you ring or e-mail. First of all I have to find out which form is your's (they are all anonymised when I get them) and then remind myself why you didn't make the cut. So, if I say please contact me again tomorrow or e-mail you saying I'll send you a further e-mail soon, it's because of the logistics of the process. Please don't ring me and then say why can't I tell you now.

I don't deny it's a tough process both emotionally and financially, but take every bit of advice as the constructive criticism it is designed to be, don't take it personally and reflect, reflect, reflect, and you're more likely to emerge succesfully.

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Re: Shocking true confessions - My Selection Hell

Post by miriam » Thu Aug 09, 2018 11:18 am

BlueCat wrote:
Mon Feb 10, 2014 11:26 pm
DO state on a CV how long you worked certain places, how many days, and whether paid or voluntary. Simply telling me the job title and duties doesn't give me enough information to shortlist from as I can't tell whether you were half a day a week voluntary for six weeks over the summer holidays whilst at Uni or whether you were full time paid for six years! I will therefore assume the former.

DO get yourself a professional sounding e-mail address. Whilst I might still shortlist "barbiegirl38DD@saucygirl.com" if said applicant has awesome experience, it doesn't give the best impression. Web-based e-mail is free and easy to set up.
Reading back, these are also so true!

We also had a very interesting experience in advertising for an intern (we offered 12 weeks with us to learn about what we do). First off not a single applicant wrote a tailored application or a covering letter (unless it was the covering letter that they'd submitted for the paid AP post we advertised at the same time). When we emailed the top eight applicants asking them to confirm that they had thought about the logistics of doing unpaid voluntary work for 12 weeks, and asked them to write a paragraph about what they would bring to the job and what they hoped to get from it only one person replied. Given the lament of how impossible it is to get first foot in the door experiences, and how expensive/time consuming it is to do an MSc (but how common that is becoming as a next step after graduating in order to get a foot up compared to other applicants), this was disappointing.

We also got an email from HMRC saying that because we had used the word "intern" in a job advert they wanted to link us to all the rules about minimum wage and what defines a volunteer. The implicit message was that anyone taking on a volunteer or intern outside of the public sector or a charity, or a designated placement during a degree or an Erasmus scheme, would be put under a lot of scrutiny as to whether they should pay the minimum wage (with high penalties if any retrospective claim was found against the employer). Whilst I'm really pleased about that, as I do think a large number of unpaid posts are exploitative, it does make it harder for us to take someone on for a placement because we can't pay more than expenses, or provide a formal contract. [Before anyone says "you should pay them minimum wage", the amount an intern contributes to the business is usually negligible compared to the amount of time they take up for planning, supervision, and learning experiences, so it doesn't make any sense to pay them minimum wage when for 20% more we could get the higher level of skills and experiences of an AP who will stay around and return that investment of training and supervision over the rest of the year]. So in light of the poor standard of applicants, we've decided to limit our placement to the Erasmus scheme and those who want to do their university placement or research with us.
Miriam

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Re: Shocking true confessions - My Selection Hell

Post by SamH » Thu Aug 09, 2018 12:24 pm

Esuma wrote:
Mon Aug 06, 2018 5:39 pm
I do really feel for you guys going through these applications but one thing to remember is that often with these applications there are such time pressures to get the application done - most vacancies I have seen in my area recently are up for less than a day, by the time I even get home from work to start the application they’re closed! I try to take my time to fully personalise each application but when there’s the constant threat of the vacancy closing I can see why people just submit something to be at least in the running
100% this! I spent 7 months working freelance so that I could be at home and able to apply for any AP post that was advertised; I can't tell you the amount of times that I was half way through writing an application and the job disappeared. :? I seen many a post be active for only 2 hours! 7 months of doing this I got 3 interviews (2 i couldn't attend as I was away) and 1 successful post.

It's tough, from the time you see the job advertised, read the specification, research the service & trust, then think about how your experience matches, sit down and write a tailored application, and proof read it. Easily 2 hours work. (Not to mention if like me you have dyslexia which slows that whole process down further.)

Having said that I have been on the other side of the table, not for AP's but for Care Assistants; and it is frustrating to see people who just send out applications by batch. I like to start from a place of giving each form a chance but if you can't even show how your experience might fit then you're wasting everyone's time.

BUT going back again, I wouldn't say that necessarily speaks to the type of employee they would be if employed. I've interviewed and hired people with fabulous CV's and great answers in the interview, who turned out to be terrible humans. They just know how to present themselves well. So it's a bit of a balancing act.

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Re: Shocking true confessions - My Selection Hell

Post by miriam » Thu Aug 09, 2018 1:23 pm

I don't think it is either a 2 hour job or five minutes, there is a lot of scope to be somewhere in between. Someone mentioned earlier in the thread that they have a word document with sections for each major speciality they are applying for, and most of the common person specification items, and they paste in the right bits and then just spend a few minutes personalising the cover letter or main section of the NHSjobs form.

BTW if you've done an application and then the job closes, email it in to the main point of contact or phone the HR department and ask how to submit it. I've shortlisted two people who emailed on the day but after the job advert closed with personalised applications - one for the admin post and one for the AP post. That may not be possible on NHS jobs unless you have a reason that would fit equal opportunities (eg SamH's dyslexia could be a legit reason to need an application proof-read before submission) but it can be worth a try.
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Re: Shocking true confessions - My Selection Hell

Post by ell » Thu Aug 09, 2018 7:25 pm

In my experience, most AP jobs person specs (which are usually what an application is being rated against) are broadly the same (next time I'm on the computer I may download a few and see). Therefore you can write an application that hits the various person spec points, and then pop a tailored sentence or two at the start of the statement to say why you want that specific post. May not be 100% foolproof, but it's an approach that works for many and shouldn't take too long.

The frustration that shortlisters feel is an interesting one. I've felt it myself, I got so annoyed recently with some AP applications. When reflecting on it, I struggled to work out what was behind that frustration. I wonder if it's because I hear people complain about it being so hard to get a post, and how the whole thing is unfair and qualified CPs don't understand. But no one is telling me personally I'm being unfair or not understanding, so I'm not sure why it feels quite so annoying to me. And also, it may not be the same people complaining as the people sending in those awful applications. I'm still struggling to understand why I get quite so irritated. Obviously I'm not the only one though. I'll carry on musing on that one.

At some point (once I get on a computer) I might think about setting up a thread called "My application has perfect spelling and grammar, I clearly described my hours, and I mentioned the client group, so what's going wrong?". Because I think there are a lot of applications that are falling in the middle of outstanding and awful, and I suspect those are the people getting most frustrated.

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Re: Shocking true confessions - My Selection Hell

Post by mungle » Fri Aug 10, 2018 11:13 am

If someone puts in the days to write a general and door quality statement (perhaps for an AP post that doesn't close early) and then has some reflections tailored to different client groups and settings then tailoring an application can be done in around 20 minutes, making it possible before or after work or during a lunch break

There is a skill to being able to put together good quality writing in a short space of time and it is arguably one needed to be a CP in the NHS where there will always be too little time and yet notes and reports to be written.

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Re: Shocking true confessions - My Selection Hell

Post by lingua_franca » Fri Aug 10, 2018 12:15 pm

ell wrote:
Thu Aug 09, 2018 7:25 pm
The frustration that shortlisters feel is an interesting one. I've felt it myself, I got so annoyed recently with some AP applications. When reflecting on it, I struggled to work out what was behind that frustration. I wonder if it's because I hear people complain about it being so hard to get a post, and how the whole thing is unfair and qualified CPs don't understand. But no one is telling me personally I'm being unfair or not understanding, so I'm not sure why it feels quite so annoying to me. And also, it may not be the same people complaining as the people sending in those awful applications. I'm still struggling to understand why I get quite so irritated. Obviously I'm not the only one though. I'll carry on musing on that one.
I doubt this level of frustration is specific to AP applications. I've only ever shortlisted for research assistants and support workers, both of which attract far fewer applications, but I still get irritated by people who clearly haven't read up on the role or who have sent in a generic application or one that was clearly written for another project/post. (My personal favourite was the applicant who talked about her leather corset-making business in her application to be a support worker, although thinking about it that one was more eyebrow-raising than irritating...). With AP applications I expect the frustration at this sort of thing is magnified by the sheer quantity of applications you need to wade through.
"Suppose a tree fell down, Pooh, when we were underneath it?"
"Suppose it didn't," said Pooh, after careful thought.
Piglet was comforted by this.
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Geishawife
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Re: Shocking true confessions - My Selection Hell

Post by Geishawife » Fri Aug 10, 2018 1:54 pm

My personal favourite was the applicant who talked about her leather corset-making business in her application to be a support worker, although thinking about it that one was more eyebrow-raising than irritating...

OH MY!!!! Now I can't get the images that conjoured up out of my head.......

And Mungle, I think you talk a lot of sense!!

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Re: Shocking true confessions - My Selection Hell

Post by Northernlad » Sat Aug 11, 2018 12:10 am

I agree with Mungle. Write a generic application for different client groups and then if you do need to tailor it further it shouldn’t take too long at all! You’ll have an application almost ready to submit!

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Re: Shocking true confessions - My Selection Hell

Post by SamH » Sat Aug 11, 2018 11:56 am

miriam wrote:
Thu Aug 09, 2018 1:23 pm
I don't think it is either a 2 hour job or five minutes, there is a lot of scope to be somewhere in between. Someone mentioned earlier in the thread that they have a word document with sections for each major speciality they are applying for, and most of the common person specification items, and they paste in the right bits and then just spend a few minutes personalising the cover letter or main section of the NHSjobs form.

BTW if you've done an application and then the job closes, email it in to the main point of contact or phone the HR department and ask how to submit it. I've shortlisted two people who emailed on the day but after the job advert closed with personalised applications - one for the admin post and one for the AP post. That may not be possible on NHS jobs unless you have a reason that would fit equal opportunities (eg SamH's dyslexia could be a legit reason to need an application proof-read before submission) but it can be worth a try.
Yes by the end of that year I had a cover letter/ personal statement for each main area in clinical psychology. I also saved every letter I sent (so so many) so was able to copy and paste from those. But I think it's helpful to remember the place where some people are starting from. When I started applying for jobs I had never seen an AP job/ person spec; I had no idea what services were available to client groups or what the role of an AP might be in those settings. So there was a learning curve involved too. Which doesn't explain all the mistakes but might go a way towards why some people are not being specific, maybe they just don't know?


That's good advice about emailing on after. I actually would never have thought to do that! :oops: :lol: Thankfully I got on the course this year so no more AP applications but I am going to bear this in mind for future. No harm in trying!

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