Assistant Psychologist applications - what's going wrong?

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

Post by noodle » Thu Jun 30, 2011 10:13 am

Mesopotamia wrote: 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.
I just wanted to add that I agree that a person specification should be concise, however, I think that a limit of one A4 side is very difficult to do if the person spcification has 20+ points and you need to address all of them. The length of my additional info always reflect the length of their person spec . For example, I've been shortlisted for 2 AP posts in the last month (out of the 3 I've applied for) and one of my supporting information sections was 600 words and the other was 1300 words which reflected there being more than 30 points to address.
Last edited by noodle on Thu Jun 30, 2011 11:13 am, edited 1 time in total.

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

Post by BlueCat » Thu Jun 30, 2011 10:51 am

ell wrote: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
Just to bring it back to the point - this was less about length and more about content.
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noodle
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Re: Assistant Psychologist applications - what's going wrong

Post by noodle » Thu Jun 30, 2011 11:28 am

Sorry, I just wanted to add to the discussion about length because it could potentially stress people out to have a hard and fast rule of 1 side of A4 in their heads, although appreciate the merits of having a rough guide.

I think in relation to the original question - 'what's going wrong?' I think it's a lot to do with the fact that you don't know whether a post is going to close mid way through writing the person spec. I've certainly been guilty of making errors when the advert says 'will close when sufficient applications have been received' and I think it would be fairer if they put a time of closing, even if it is at 5pm that day or something, so at least you'd know how long you've got. My current strategy is to do the apps in the evening, when I know HR aren't around to close them, then I can get things done properly. Although this inevitably means missing ones that are only open for a couple of hours during the day but that's a silly employer strategy anyway given that most of the people with the necessary experience will be working during this time.

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

Post by ell » Thu Jun 30, 2011 12:44 pm

noodle wrote:I think in relation to the original question - 'what's going wrong?' I think it's a lot to do with the fact that you don't know whether a post is going to close mid way through writing the person spec. I've certainly been guilty of making errors when the advert says 'will close when sufficient applications have been received' and I think it would be fairer if they put a time of closing, even if it is at 5pm that day or something, so at least you'd know how long you've got. My current strategy is to do the apps in the evening, when I know HR aren't around to close them, then I can get things done properly. Although this inevitably means missing ones that are only open for a couple of hours during the day but that's a silly employer strategy anyway given that most of the people with the necessary experience will be working during this time.
It can be really difficult, when the advert could disappear any second, to write an amazing, tailored application (please note I said difficult, not impossible). I am/have been lucky in being able to do applications during working hours as I am in the office on my own a lot - not everyone has this luxury of course. I do think it is possible, given that the person spec of AP posts are so similar, to write a 'generic' application addressing the person spec points, and then quickly write a specific paragraph or couple of lines at the beginning of the application to explain why you are interested in the post and maybe how it links in with your career so far (beyond "I want to get on The Course"). It's a tactic that's worked for me anyway.

L

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

Post by noodle » Thu Jun 30, 2011 12:57 pm

ell wrote: explain why you are interested in the post and maybe how it links in with your career so far (beyond "I want to get on The Course").
Yeah I can't believe that people write 'I want the job because I want to get onto training' when you can gain so much from an AP post in it's own right.

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Re: Assistant Psychologist applications - what's going wrong

Post by baa » Thu Jun 30, 2011 1:02 pm

noodle wrote:
ell wrote: explain why you are interested in the post and maybe how it links in with your career so far (beyond "I want to get on The Course").
Yeah I can't believe that people write 'I want the job because I want to get onto training' when you can gain so much from an AP post in it's own right.
I also like to see what the applicant can offer the employer, rather than it all being about what the applicant wants to learn. I know with AP posts it's slightly different, in that you may well not have direct experience, blah blah. But even if it's something regular/obvious/generic skills based, I like that people have actually thought about what the employer can expect from them. If that makes sense at all.
At least I'm not as mad as that one!

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

Post by ell » Thu Jun 30, 2011 1:35 pm

baa wrote:
noodle wrote:
ell wrote: explain why you are interested in the post and maybe how it links in with your career so far (beyond "I want to get on The Course").
Yeah I can't believe that people write 'I want the job because I want to get onto training' when you can gain so much from an AP post in it's own right.
I also like to see what the applicant can offer the employer, rather than it all being about what the applicant wants to learn. I know with AP posts it's slightly different, in that you may well not have direct experience, blah blah. But even if it's something regular/obvious/generic skills based, I like that people have actually thought about what the employer can expect from them. If that makes sense at all.
Baa, you mean that the employer should expect something for their band4/5 money?! Surely not(!). :wink:

To be fair, a lot of person specs do request people are interested in a career in clinical psychology, so this should be acknowledged on application. Even so though, surely an application should be more about what the applicant can offer the employer, rather than the other way around (although obviously this is important too when in post).

L

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

Post by baa » Thu Jun 30, 2011 1:38 pm

ell wrote:
Baa, you mean that the employer should expect something for their band4/5 money?! Surely not(!). :wink:

To be fair, a lot of person specs do request people are interested in a career in clinical psychology, so this should be acknowledged on application. Even so though, surely an application should be more about what the applicant can offer the employer, rather than the other way around (although obviously this is important too when in post).

L
I agreeeeee. Employers will know you're hoping to move on after a year or so, but will want their money's worth in that year :D
At least I'm not as mad as that one!

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Re: Assistant Psychologist applications - what's going wrong

Post by CatBells » Tue Jul 05, 2011 8:28 pm

I have recently been shortlising for a couple of jobs - 2 major things become extremely frustrating after a while:

1) Not making any reference to things relevant to the exact post (e.g. too much focus on clinical work when it's research based) - it is surprising how easy it is to spot a copied and pasted form.
2) Saying over and over again how much you want to pursue a career in clinical psychology immediately, and showing absolutely no interest in the service.

Having made some pretty shocking applications myself in the past I can see how easy it is to fall into these traps and I know everyone is afraid of posts closing without warning, but is so disheartening to see clearly quite talented candidates fall prey to badly underselling themselves (plus the standard of English on forms really does make a huge difference when the competition is so fierce). I know myself that I thought that absolutely -nothing- could be cut from my supporting information and that if I didn't say something then that would be the thing that the shortlisters would absolutely need to know... but it's just not true. Think really carefully about what's important and what's just waffle in the context of the job at hand.

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Re: Assistant Psychologist applications - what's going wrong

Post by Jam » Fri Jul 08, 2011 10:03 am

A question I have regarding this, (for those of you who have gone through shortlisting)
Are the successful candidates absolutely perfect in terms of grammar, punctuation and presentation of
supporting information ? Or is there room for human error if the application as a whole is solid

(I ask this because I can not stop finding bugs on my supporting info, even after 3 hours!) :evil:
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Re: Assistant Psychologist applications - what's going wrong

Post by psy40174 » Fri Jul 08, 2011 11:07 am

Jam - I certaintly can't comment as a shortlister but I am one of those candiates who gets shortlisted for interviews (unfortunately keep getting pipped to the post - 5 AP interviews + a clincial training in the last 8 months! And 2 pending in the next month)

But I can definately comment that my applications arn't perfect - in my clinical training form I noticed I put 'clinican' instead of clinician IN MY FINAL LINE AFTER I HAD SUBMITTED!!!

I miss out words now and then accidently like 'such and such experience has given an understanding of working with people in psychological distress.' - HAS GIVEN ME!

So I would say of course there is room for human error, but obviousily proof reading BEFORE is always adviseable (annoyingly though I only seem to notice these mistakes after I have sent app's off!)

Getting someone else to read them also helps - but I realise we don't always have time to do this. Good thing about NHS jobs saving your app's though, you can amend mistakes and at least they will be that bit better for future apps!

Also reading applications out loud helps you stop these missing words... well in my case it has!

At the moment my view is you have to be in to win it, so getting them in does take first priority but i ALWAYS comment on the client group and mention the particular team e.g. If I was working as part of 'location department team'.
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BlueCat
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Re: Assistant Psychologist applications - what's going wrong

Post by BlueCat » Fri Jul 08, 2011 11:11 am

Jam wrote:A question I have regarding this, (for those of you who have gone through shortlisting)
Are the successful candidates absolutely perfect in terms of grammar, punctuation and presentation of
supporting information ? Or is there room for human error if the application as a whole is solid

(I ask this because I can not stop finding bugs on my supporting info, even after 3 hours!) :evil:
Jam, where a form has excellent experience, excellent academic background, and a really well written statement, in my experience it wouldn't be rejected on the basis of a typo or two. However, if it were a choice between two equally good (content-wise) applications, and one was littered with typos and errors, the less errorful one would, in my experience, be preferred.

It is important to remember that often "excellent written communication" is a criteria for shortlisting, and so it is perfectly legitimate to deselect on the basis of a poorly written statement.
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 nyla789 » Wed Sep 07, 2011 3:10 pm

I've been in my research job for a year now, but want to start looking for AP posts (as this is the feedback I received at my clinical interviews). So after a long year, I'm slowly getting back into the habit of making applications again. When applying through the NHS, I've always given precedence to my 'supporting information' section, as I feel this gives the most detail about me. I'm reasonably happy with my statement, and over the past couple of months I've managed to bag about 3 or 4 AP interviews, which is quite good for my standard seeing as last time I underwent this process it took me about 5 months till I got my first interview!

My question is, how important is the information you give in the job description section i.e. when explaining your duties and responsibilities for each job? Up till now, the way I've played it is to copy and paste my job description into the box where it asks you to explain your duties. Is that really bad?? :oops: If so, what are other people doing? How much are people writing? And how much precedence do employers give to what's written in those sections when short-listing?

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Re: Assistant Psychologist applications - what's going wrong

Post by ell » Wed Sep 07, 2011 4:07 pm

nyla789 wrote:I've been in my research job for a year now, but want to start looking for AP posts (as this is the feedback I received at my clinical interviews). So after a long year, I'm slowly getting back into the habit of making applications again. When applying through the NHS, I've always given precedence to my 'supporting information' section, as I feel this gives the most detail about me. I'm reasonably happy with my statement, and over the past couple of months I've managed to bag about 3 or 4 AP interviews, which is quite good for my standard seeing as last time I underwent this process it took me about 5 months till I got my first interview!

My question is, how important is the information you give in the job description section i.e. when explaining your duties and responsibilities for each job? Up till now, the way I've played it is to copy and paste my job description into the box where it asks you to explain your duties. Is that really bad?? :oops: If so, what are other people doing? How much are people writing? And how much precedence do employers give to what's written in those sections when short-listing?
Well done on getting so many AP interviews - you can't be going too wrong!

Personally, I just write a few bullet points for each job I have done, being very specific about the things I did within that job. I keep it brief and to the point so that the list can easily be scanned by the shortlister who, let's face it, is scanning these things quickly and appreciates concise-ness. I don't copy and paste my job description because that is usually written by someone else and can often be long and vague (depends on the JD I suppose, but I can't imagine any of the NHS JDs I have seen being suitable as a way of explaining duties and responsibilities in a job application).

Good luck with it all!

L

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Re: Assistant Psychologist applications - what's going wrong

Post by CatBells » Wed Sep 07, 2011 6:49 pm

I agree with what Ell says, and would certainly appreciate her precise, reflective style as a shortliter. In my experience of shortlisting, copying and pasting JDs looks lazy, and doesn't really serve as an accurate reflection of what you have -done-. Try and place yourself as what you would want to see as a shortlister: someone who is bright, enthusiastic, motived, and willing to learn. When drafting (and hopefully re-drafting!) your applications think about whether what you are writing is relevant to the job you are applying for, and if you absolutely -need-to say it. Shortlisters will be going through possibly hundreds of applications and won't be interested in things that are quite clearly left in from previous job applications.

As for how important the employment history sections are, I would glance through to make sure that whoever was applying had held some relevant positions or had relevant voluntary experiences, and look for evidence of initiative and relevant duties (and see what the person thinks is important to mention) but obviously the main weight of the application lies in the additional information section. I should point out that my experience of shortlisting is relatively limited, but I have certainly learned for future applications of my own that being precise, concise, reflective, and having a clear interest in that specific job are absolutely key to being successful.

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