Tips for securing a career in the NHS

The National Health Service (NHS) provides an ideal new employment opportunity for many members of the Armed Forces community. There are many similarities of ethos, values and public service between the two. Many NHS organisations have shown commitment and support to actively recruiting from the community by pledging to the Step Into Health programme.

Step Into Health supports members of the Armed Forces community to gain employment in the NHS. The programme is made up of NHS organisations which have publicly committed to support the recruitment of members of the Armed Forces community into the NHS.

The Step Into Health candidate system can be the first step in your NHS journey. The system allows members of the Armed Forces community to connect to dedicated people within NHS organisations, to discuss opportunities for working or gaining experience within their organisation.

Due to the current COVID-19 situation, some opportunities such as volunteering, insight days, work experience or shadowing may not be available, however NHS employers are still on hand to offer recruitment support and advice regarding working in the NHS.

When you feel ready to apply for roles in the NHS, you can browse all NHS vacancies on recruitment website NHS Jobs and Trac. There are more than 350 different types of roles available in the NHS in a wide variety of areas, there is a position suitable for everyone’s skills and experiences.

We asked members of the Armed Forces community who have successfully secured employment in the NHS for tips on applying for roles and how they have their unique military skills to succeed in their application. Here are a number of tips they came up with:

  • If the job application includes a tick box asking whether you are a member of the Armed Forces community, make sure to tick this – a number of organisations offer guaranteed interview schemes if you meet the minimum criteria.
  • Get in touch with the point of contact cited on the job advert. It is always useful to have an initial conversation to ask more about the role and identify the key skills and attributes they are looking for as this is often difficult to articulate on a job description.
  • Highlight the skills you gained from the Armed Forces or being part of the community. For example, operational skills could help you implement new systems within the NHS or being able to make difficult decisions under pressure would be a valuable attribute to many teams across the NHS.
  • When completing the application form, answer directly to the person specification. Use headings and subheadings to clearly demonstrate how you meet each requirement.
  • Get to know and reference the corporate values of the organisation you are applying to and link those to military values.
  • Use the ‘situation, task, action, result’ or ‘challenge, action, result’ techniques to articulate your answer to questions in the job application.
  • Being able to quickly adapt to changing environments and uplift others while managing a crisis would help the NHS during difficult periods, such as tackling the current COVID-19 pandemic. Make sure you emphasise all relevant experiences you have.
  • Sign up to job alerts through NHS Jobs for organisations and roles you are interested in, so you get notified when a new vacancy becomes available.

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I found the course to be an excellent refresher of the skills I used in my previous roles, and also a confidence booster to me, proving that I can do it again

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