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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ell
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Assistant Psychologist applications - what's going wrong?

Post by ell » Fri Jun 24, 2011 12:54 pm

So, I had an interesting conversation with an acquaintance who has recently finished shortlisting a hefty number of applicants for an AP position. I was really shocked by her feedback on the process of it and thought people might be interested to hear about it.

She basically thought most applications were of a very poor quality. A large proportion of applicants had clearly not read the job description, and very very few applicants even mentioned the relevant client group in their supporting statement! :shock: I know we are under pressure to get applications in quickly, and therefore use tailored versions of the same statement most of the time, but even so, I was surprised to hear that most people didn't show any interest whatsover, or even gave a token nod to the client group! (In fact, this was not the first time I have heard this has happened!). Apparently, most people just said they wanted the job cos they wanted to get on a clinical training course, which made her quite irate as she wants someone who is interested in the job/people, not solely interested in themselves and their own career path. Surely it only takes a couple of minutes to write a couple of sentences about why you are interested in the specific job/client group at the beginning of an otherwise generic personal statement?

Also, apparently applicants had a tendency to make claims about their skills, eg. "I have excellent communication skills" and then provide no evidence whatsoever to back this up.

I found all this very odd and actually rather embarassing, to hear someone bemoan the quality of AP applications. I am sure they are not all like that, but considering the level of competition and large amount of associated complaining about that competition (which I do as well of course!) I was so surprised to hear such negative feedback.

Anyways, hope that information is useful to some people (I am well aware I am helping the competition here!). Good luck with future applications folks!

L

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Re: Assistant Psychologist applications - what's going wrong

Post by BlueCat » Fri Jun 24, 2011 6:28 pm

I actually had a similar conversation today, by a massive coincidence! Said psychologist recruits an AP every year, because their AP's pretty much without fail get onto training. This CP said that 50% at least of the applications were awful, littered with spelling and grammatical errors (apostrophe's really do matter people), didn't say anything about tailoring application or making specific to client group, but you would imagine that this would likely also have been omitted if the standard of writing was so poor. There really is no excuse for poor spelling and grammar, especially on a generic application that is fired off to all and sundry, most especially with the availability of spellchecker!

This would have surprised me a couple of years ago, but since having been involved in shortlisting for the courses, and seeing the worryingly large amount of spelling and grammatical errors on such important forms, I am less surprised about this happening on AP applications.
There's no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothes. Billy Connolly.

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Re: Assistant Psychologist applications - what's going wrong

Post by Mesopotamia » Fri Jun 24, 2011 6:47 pm

Many thanks for sharing this information. This is extremely helpful as I am one of those applicants who is applying with a generic application form. I am making sure that for whatever claim I make about my skills i back it down with examples from my current experience as an AP. I must however admit that I have so far been ignorant of the client group and have not mentioned why I would like to work with them, so this will be the next point to improve in my application. I am struggling to keep my application short though, I am currently writing just above 1300 words, wonder if its too long? I know that they want us to show them that we can be concise and efficient in the use of words, but anything shorter than 1300 words feel too short for me. I feel that I will not get my message across.

Any comment on the word count would be highly appreciative.

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Re: Assistant Psychologist applications - what's going wrong

Post by Borrowed Cone » Fri Jun 24, 2011 8:54 pm

Hi Mesopotamia,

I would have to say, having shortlisted for AP positions before, that 1300 words is too long. I know it is so hard to keep the word count down, but I remember being confronted with thousand plus word-count applications and just not being able to read them properly, given that I had over 200 applications to go through. So, vital information could have been missed and hence... bin. However, I would say they did not demonstrate "good communication skills" if they couldn't keep their word count down and still get everything across, because people do manage it.

I'd imagine you'd want to do a supporting statement of no more than one page of A4 in a word processing program (although I must confess to not knowing how many words that is...)

I realise that isn't particularly constructive advice, but I hope my experience might serve as some sort of guide.

good luck,

The Cone
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Re: Assistant Psychologist applications - what's going wrong

Post by Mesopotamia » Fri Jun 24, 2011 8:59 pm

Borrowed Cone, Thanks a lot for your reply it is more than useful, especially as you have direct experience with the selection process. Currently, my application is exceeding two A4 pages on word, the hard job of cutting down whilst keeping the good bits seems inevitable. I wished that you would say that 1300 is average, but I knew it was too long.

Again, many thanks for your prompt reply, it is much appreciated.

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Re: Assistant Psychologist applications - what's going wrong

Post by Borrowed Cone » Fri Jun 24, 2011 9:09 pm

No problem. I suppose in any other job if you were sending a covering letter, it would not ever be longer than a page unless specified, so it seems like a good guide to me.
"We can rebuild him. We have the technology. But I don't want to spend a lot of money..."

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Re: Assistant Psychologist applications - what's going wrong

Post by miriam » Sat Jun 25, 2011 9:52 pm

Fits exactly with my reporting back on shortlisting for AP posts, but in a way, from the other side of the fence its a relief when there are poor forms. Its good to be able to cut it down in some simple way, and choosing people who have shown their enthusiasm for that particular post and client group seems a very appropriate way to massively chop down the numbers!

BTW
apostrophe's really do matter
is delicious!
Miriam

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

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Re: Assistant Psychologist applications - what's going wrong

Post by ell » Sat Jun 25, 2011 11:54 pm

miriam wrote:Fits exactly with my reporting back on shortlisting for AP posts, but in a way, from the other side of the fence its a relief when there are poor forms. Its good to be able to cut it down in some simple way, and choosing people who have shown their enthusiasm for that particular post and client group seems a very appropriate way to massively chop down the numbers!
Yes, this makes sense. In some ways I am also pleased that people make such silly mistakes - makes me look better in comparison! (I don't make silly mistakes, but I do write utter rubbish sometimes which is different)
Mesopotamia wrote:Any comment on the word count would be highly appreciative.
As mentioned by people here, my acquaintance with whom I was discussing applications also said that she greatly appreciated those applications which were concise and not too long, especially given the sheer number she had to read. Over the last several years, I found that I was getting AP interviews a lot to begin with, and then as my experience grew so did my application as I added on lots of bits and my success in getting interviews started going down, until I rewrote my application completely and became a lot more successful at getting interviews again. A thorough review of your application, a rewrite even, can be really helpful if you are just not getting the interviews, rather than just rehashing the same old thing and continuing to not get anywhere.

That's enough from me, am too tired to write coherently!

L

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Re: Assistant Psychologist applications - what's going wrong

Post by BlueCat » Sun Jun 26, 2011 10:14 pm

miriam wrote:BTW
apostrophe's really do matter
is delicious!
I know! I can be subtle and enigmatic at times. Glad someone noticed!
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 » Mon Jun 27, 2011 6:33 pm

BlueCat wrote:
miriam wrote:BTW
apostrophe's really do matter
is delicious!
I know! I can be subtle and enigmatic at times. Glad someone noticed!
I noticed, I noticed! Miriam got there first though.

Mr ell has recently been skim-reading many CVs to select people for his team (completely unrelated to CP). He does this on the computer, and says that he can't believe the appalling spelling and grammar people have on their CV and that he notices it all the more than if he was reading it on paper because it is underlined in red by Word for him (and presumably the applicant) to see!

L

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Re: Assistant Psychologist applications - what's going wrong

Post by Jam » Mon Jun 27, 2011 11:43 pm

I was wondering if anyone knew whether information that is available on the application form needs to be reiterated in the supporting info section of an application.
Things like what classification degree was obtained in and length of time spent in relevant work positions. Or can this info be left out in order to save on the word count.

Also a lot of vacancies list being computer literate as an essential skill for the position. Does it need explaining where I have gained IT skills If I have mentioned and demonstrated that I am a graduate and have skills in SPSS (which is another essential criteria for most positions) not to mention filled in a online application ?

(While I'm at it, dare I ask if there would be a kind and generous soul among you whom I could PM and would be willing to read my supporting info section and provide pointers. I would be most grateful for any help and would gladly return the favour) :)
"Learn about intentions, for their importance is greater than the importance of actions"

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

Post by ell » Tue Jun 28, 2011 12:08 pm

Maj wrote:I was wondering if anyone knew whether information that is available on the application form needs to be reiterated in the supporting info section of an application.
Things like what classification degree was obtained in and length of time spent in relevant work positions. Or can this info be left out in order to save on the word count.
I never mention my degree classification or specifics about jobs cos they are already on the form! The shortlister does look at this information to tick off those requirements, there's no need to waste precious words on it.
Maj wrote:Also a lot of vacancies list being computer literate as an essential skill for the position. Does it need explaining where I have gained IT skills If I have mentioned and demonstrated that I am a graduate and have skills in SPSS (which is another essential criteria for most positions) not to mention filled in a online application ?
I never know what to do about this one. I rarely mention my IT skills, and if I do I tend to focus on being able to use SPSS and Excel to a high standard (I kind of embed that one in my mentioning my excellent stats/research methods skills, demonstrated by certain exam marks). I also sometimes mention doing lit searches as this is something a lot of supervisors are looking for in an AP. Other than that, I don't seem to have suffered from not mentioning that I can use Word.

L

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Re: Assistant Psychologist applications - what's going wrong

Post by mandy20 » Wed Jun 29, 2011 1:39 pm

I'm really glad that this topic has come up. I am making fresh applications and have been revising my application style constantly ( I dont generally use generic statements, just sections that are relevant to all posts). I must also admit that I dont tend to mention the client group :oops: ...i tend to say i have..x.x.x which would be essential for this post. Now i can also see from looking back, that i have made some mistakes, and maybe I might get away with it and maybe not. I am learning that no matter how attractive my past experiences might be, the selectors wont know unless i make my skills and experience shine in the supporting statement. *Back to the drawing board* I must admit the application process is exhausting beyond words, but I'm determined! :)

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Re: Assistant Psychologist applications - what's going wrong

Post by eponymous85 » Wed Jun 29, 2011 2:42 pm

Maj wrote: (While I'm at it, dare I ask if there would be a kind and generous soul among you whom I could PM and would be willing to read my supporting info section and provide pointers. I would be most grateful for any help and would gladly return the favour) :)

I'll give it a read. Do me a favour though - stick around afterwards! The last two people I did this for disappeared from the forum after they'd got their help (nothing to do with my feedback I hope!) I'm sure you won't do the same. Just sayin'.
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Re: Assistant Psychologist applications - what's going wrong

Post by Jam » Wed Jun 29, 2011 10:22 pm

eponymous85 wrote:
Maj wrote: (While I'm at it, dare I ask if there would be a kind and generous soul among you whom I could PM and would be willing to read my supporting info section and provide pointers. I would be most grateful for any help and would gladly return the favour) :)

I'll give it a read. Do me a favour though - stick around afterwards! The last two people I did this for disappeared from the forum after they'd got their help (nothing to do with my feedback I hope!) I'm sure you won't do the same. Just sayin'.
Many thx, Ive sent u a pm. And yes I will stay, as long as u do :P
"Learn about intentions, for their importance is greater than the importance of actions"

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