Assistant Psychologist applications - what's going wrong?

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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Itachi
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Re: Assistant Psychologist applications - what's going wrong

Post by Itachi » Wed Sep 07, 2011 10:22 pm

Hello All! Just sharing some experience of shortlisting/screening 150+ applicants for an AP job advertised on the NHS jobs website. I must admit, I too was underwhelmed by the quality of the applications, both presentation wise and content wise.
Some common mistakes/thoughts:
- Listing out qualifications backwards (i.e. GCSEs first). AP posts are most likely looking for your bachelors/masters, so put them first!
- Putting masters under training instead of education, easy to miss!
- Employment history comes first, so make sure that all of your relevant duties are in the little description box. Bullet points are nice for short listers who can be box happy when you clearly state that you have ‘done psychometric testing’ tick and ‘you were supervised by a CP’. I was not allowed to assume that applicants with previous AP experience (where they clearly worked with CPs) had CP supervision, so state it explicitly! That was a frustrating one. I couldn’t tick my box :(
- Strange and clearly putting the applicant at a disadvantage when said criteria (skills/duties) are not mentioned under specific employment history but in the middle of a dense, 5 page, generic, supporting information box. Keep your ‘general duties’ box as up to date as possible.
- The supporting information needn’t be long, it’s a matter of spending 5 or 10 minutes writing explicit statements like, ‘I have experience doing X, I have worked at Y for Z amount of time’ according to the criteria, on top of your generic supporting statement paragraphs that most people seemed to have copied and pasted from their CV. Perhaps I am a bit biased as this post seemed to have a limited number of ‘must haves’ and most successfully shortlisted applicants did just that (a few clear sentences) and their box was well under an A4 page in length. In fact I noticed, that the less relevant people’s experiences were, the longer their supporting information sections were (bar the people who clearly put no effort into their application at all).
- ALSO! A lot of people were rejected for having a 2:2 at bachelors and a 'pending' masters. If it's not complete, it doesn't count. That may explain things for some applicants.

Hope that helped someone! Will post anything else that pops up in my head in the near future.

MRE95
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Re: Assistant Psychologist applications - what's going wrong

Post by MRE95 » Tue Sep 12, 2017 6:42 pm

Having read all of the replies to this post, I still feel unclear on whether your description/list of responsibilities undertaken in 'Employment History' are marked against the person specification when AP applications are being shortlisted. Up to now, I have attempted to mention all of the person specification points within my supporting statement, but I do feel that sentences that simply state "I have experience of minute-taking", "I have written summary reports of clinical meetings", "I have experience of using Microsoft Outlook to write and send emails" etc (i.e. duties that there is little to reflect on) are very boring, can make a statement feel disjointed, and most of all feel like a waste of words.

I believe that I could make my supporting statement far more interesting (reflective) and concise if I didn't have to make reference to basic experience/skills such as those I have given examples of, but I have always been worried that neglecting to mention these within the supporting statement may lose me easy marks/points, or that it may seem odd/suspicious to not specifically mention these in my statement when they are in my employment history.

Essentially: can anyone provide a conclusive answer as to whether bullet pointed statements of basic responsibilities undertaken in your "Employment History" of an NHS job application form are sufficient to meet/gain marks against person specification points?

Any input would be much appreciated!

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BlueCat
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Re: Assistant Psychologist applications - what's going wrong

Post by BlueCat » Mon Sep 18, 2017 8:26 pm

MRE95 wrote:
Essentially: can anyone provide a conclusive answer as to whether bullet pointed statements of basic responsibilities undertaken in your "Employment History" of an NHS job application form are sufficient to meet/gain marks against person specification points?

Any input would be much appreciated!
Yes. If it is a basic requirement such as those you mention (minute taking etc), rather than something more nuanced (e.g. developing therapeutic alliance), then stating that it was part of your duties ticks the box.
There's no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothes. Billy Connolly.

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ell
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Re: Assistant Psychologist applications - what's going wrong

Post by ell » Tue Sep 19, 2017 3:55 pm

I wrote the original post 6 years ago. Recently I have had the dubious joy of reading dozens of AP applications. And my original post still stands. <sigh>

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ell
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Re: Assistant Psychologist applications - what's going wrong

Post by ell » Tue Sep 19, 2017 3:58 pm

BlueCat wrote:
MRE95 wrote:
Essentially: can anyone provide a conclusive answer as to whether bullet pointed statements of basic responsibilities undertaken in your "Employment History" of an NHS job application form are sufficient to meet/gain marks against person specification points?

Any input would be much appreciated!
Yes. If it is a basic requirement such as those you mention (minute taking etc), rather than something more nuanced (e.g. developing therapeutic alliance), then stating that it was part of your duties ticks the box.
Tentatively yes. And that is because, at the end of the day, shortlisting is carried out by one (or maybe two) individuals who, to a certain extent, decide their own thresholds of whether or not someone is meeting criteria.
There are no definitive answers here.

sushi86
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Re: Assistant Psychologist applications - what's going wrong

Post by sushi86 » Fri Dec 15, 2017 5:59 pm

Hi

I am currently applying for assistant psychologist post, is there any alternative clinical experience we can apply to as AP is very competitive to get into.

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Geishawife
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Re: Assistant Psychologist applications - what's going wrong

Post by Geishawife » Fri Dec 15, 2017 7:40 pm

sushi86 wrote: is there any alternative clinical experience we can apply to as AP is very competitive to get into
Many, many different roles can provide you with the relevant experience. Many people get on to training without ever having been an AP. There is an entire thread devoted to the experience people had before getting on to training, so have a look at that and it will give you an idea of the wide variety of roles people have undertaken.

The key thing is it's not about the role, per-se, it's about what you gain from it. I have had assistants in the past who have assumed getting "the job" is enough, have not taken the opportunity to grow and develop and then wondered why they have not progressed onto training! Whatever role you undertake, if you use it to grow and develop and are reflective about it it can add greatly to your abilities.

sushi86
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Re: Assistant Psychologist applications - what's going wrong

Post by sushi86 » Sat Dec 16, 2017 8:26 pm

Hi Gishawife

thank you for the advise

I have learnt that support work/health care assistant could also count as a valuable experience, however those roles do not involve supervision from clinical psychologist so experience such as mental health worker/support worker role would it still count towards clinical experience if there is no supervision from psychologist?

kamros1
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Re: Assistant Psychologist applications - what's going wrong

Post by kamros1 » Sat Jan 06, 2018 7:27 am

Hi all,

I got a 2:1 in my BSc, got a Merit in my Health Psychology MSc, and have been working for 18 months as a HCA on a forensic ward, yet I somehow seem unable to even secure an interview for an AP post. 10 rejections and counting thus far.

In my supporting statement I always try to make sure I tick all of the boxes, and when I ask for feedback on my application (only 4 out of the 10 people got back to me after my initial email btw) the one thing that consistently comes up is my lack of experience of working as an Assistant Psychologist? I'm really not sure where to go from here, understandably I can't seem to win when competing against people who have previously held AP post? Any tips on what I could do here?

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miriam
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Re: Assistant Psychologist applications - what's going wrong

Post by miriam » Mon Jan 08, 2018 2:14 pm

kamros1 wrote:Hi all,

I got a 2:1 in my BSc, got a Merit in my Health Psychology MSc, and have been working for 18 months as a HCA on a forensic ward, yet I somehow seem unable to even secure an interview for an AP post. 10 rejections and counting thus far.

In my supporting statement I always try to make sure I tick all of the boxes, and when I ask for feedback on my application (only 4 out of the 10 people got back to me after my initial email btw) the one thing that consistently comes up is my lack of experience of working as an Assistant Psychologist? I'm really not sure where to go from here, understandably I can't seem to win when competing against people who have previously held AP post? Any tips on what I could do here?
My best advice is to apply for AP posts outside the nhs. They are much less competitive (most NHS jobs get hundreds of applicants, whilst ones in private organisations may get a tenth of that). But also keep trying. Ten applications is nothing compared to how many most people compete before being successful! And get more detailed feedback about how to improve your applications.
Miriam

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

kermit
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Re: Assistant Psychologist applications - what's going wrong?

Post by kermit » Wed May 30, 2018 4:03 am

All the points made are very informative and clear but i have been looking for an AP job for a long time with no luck, even shortlisting for an interview! I know the reason is that i don't have that much experience but im not sure what i can do about that since i cant quit my job to go and do something voluntarily.

How do you guys meet the specs or make the experience you have match up? I find this the most difficult.

Thanks
Kermit

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maven
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Re: Assistant Psychologist applications - what's going wrong?

Post by maven » Tue Jun 05, 2018 7:48 pm

You can gain relevant paid experience that isn't as competitive as an AP post.
Maven.

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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