Published June 27, 2023
Securing a job in the NHS as an international medical graduate (IMG) is a tricky step in the IMG journey. You’ll find stories of IMGs with no more than internship experience securing jobs within 6 weeks, and others with 10 years of specialist experience under their belt who struggle to find jobs after 6 months. Why is there such a big difference? And how can you maximise your own chances?
While success requires a strategic approach and attention to detail, it also involves a degree of luck. Although we can’t control luck, we can guide you through the major steps that are within your control in this article.
Create a Compelling NHS Jobs Profile
A strong NHS Jobs profile is crucial to making a positive impression on potential employers. Follow these tips to create an impactful profile:
- Complete Your Profile: Fill out all the necessary fields in your profile, including personal information, qualifications, employment history, and references. Provide accurate and up-to-date information.
- Craft a Supporting Statement: Use the this statement section to highlight your skills, experiences, and career aspirations. Tailor it to showcase your suitability for the specific job you’re applying for. Be sure to mention key attributes from the person specifications.
- Highlight Relevant Qualifications and Certifications: Include details about your medical qualifications, internships, rotations, and any additional certifications or courses you have completed.
- Showcase Language Proficiency: If English is not your first language, demonstrate your proficiency by including any relevant language qualifications or test scores, such as IELTS. Use British spelling, and be sure to check your application for any spelling or grammatical errors before hitting send.
Find Appropriate Job Advertisements
The NHS Jobs website is the primary source for finding NHS job vacancies. Follow these steps to find suitable job advertisements:
- Use Search Filters: Use the search filters on the NHS Jobs website to narrow down your options based on location, specialty, job level, and other preferences.
- Related article: UK Doctor Job Titles 101
- Read Job Descriptions and Person Specifications: Carefully review the job descriptions and person specifications for each role you’re interested in. Pay attention to the required qualifications, skills, and experience.
- Save Favourite Job Listings: Utilise the website’s feature to save your favourite job listings for future reference. This can help you keep track of the positions you’re interested in and streamline your application process.
NHS Job websites
Tailor Your Application
Tailoring your application to match the requirements of each job is essential to stand out among other applicants. Consider the following tips:
- Study the Job Description: Thoroughly understand the job description, including the specific duties, responsibilities, and skills required. Use this information to align your application with the position.
- Address Person Specifications: Pay close attention to the person specifications outlined in the job advertisement. Highlight your relevant experiences, skills, and qualifications that match these specifications.
- Showcase Your Achievements: Emphasise your notable achievements, experiences, and skills that are directly applicable to the job. Provide concrete examples to demonstrate your capabilities.
- Adapt Your Supporting Statement: Craft a compelling supporting statement that addresses the specific requirements of the job. Use it to explain why you are interested in the role and how your skills make you a strong candidate.
Don’t Let Person Specifications and Experience Requirements Deter you
Review job specifications and descriptions carefully, but don’t dismiss a job just because you don’t meet every single one. Highlight relevant skills and experiences that make you a strong candidate, even if you don’t meet all NHS experience requirements. Your international background brings unique perspectives and skills valued by the NHS. Emphasise adaptability, willingness to learn, and commitment to patient care.
Ways to Maximise Your Chances of Success
There is no magic bullet to getting an NHS job. Keep in mind that just because you do one of the things on this list, it does not mean you will be guaranteed a job. However, the more of these you do, the higher your chances become.
We advise to do as many as you can that’s practical and feasible in your own unique situation.
Be Flexible with Location: If you’re not tied to a specific location due to family commitments, aim to apply widely. Avoid getting caught up on rural versus urban areas at this stage. Your first job won’t be your only job, and once you gain NHS experience, it will become much easier to apply for another job in your desired location.
Flexibility with Specialty: If you haven’t completed any specialist training yet, you will be able to apply for junior level jobs in any specialty. At this level, you will mostly be managing the general medical side, and you will receive training and support for the specialist side. You certainly won’t be making the important clinical decisions at this stage, so don’t be afraid to apply to all specialties.
Continue Clinical Work: This one is so important. If you can continue clinical work while applying for jobs, you put yourself in a much better position. Let’s face it, who do you want to hire? A doctor who has 6 months of recent experience and is in good standing with their medical authority, or someone with a 5-year gap?
Maintain Your Clinical Skills & Knowledge: Whether you’re in active clinical practise or not, it’s important to show that you are up to date with your medical skills and knowledge. At the very least, attending courses, conferences, and sitting exams demonstrates a commitment to ongoing learning – an important value for all doctors.
Familiarise Yourself with NHS Practise: If you’ve worked in the UK before, you obviously won’t have the NHS experience that many jobs look for. But there are other ways to show potential employers that you are prepared to work in the NHS. Here are some resources that we recommend. Include these in your supporting statement so that you provide evidence that you are willing to learn and adapt, rather than just saying “I’m willing to learn and adapt” 😉
Consider a Clinical Attachment in the UK: Ah the clinical attachment. Should you or shouldn’t you? Does it help or not? As we said in the beginning of this section, there is no magic bullet to getting an NHS job. Completing an attachment does not guarantee a job offer at the end, nor does having it in your CV guarantee an interview. However, there are several benefits to be gained:
- Taste of UK life
- Experience of the NHS system
- Opportunities to participate in audits or publish a case report
- Potential job offer after the attachment
- Time in the UK to attend courses
- Contacts for mentorship or peer guidance
So should you do one or not? Our take? If you can afford one, go ahead. If not, try the other strategies first. It’s not the end of the world if you can’t do a clinical attachment.
Related: How to find a UK clinical attachment
Patience and Persistence
After submitting your application, it’s important to remain patient and persistent throughout the selection process. Keep these points in mind:
- Application Closing Date: Take note of the closing date for applications and be aware that it may take some time before you hear back from the hospital. Typically, responses can range from a few weeks to a couple of months after the closing date.
- Follow Up if Necessary: If you haven’t received a response within a reasonable timeframe (6-8 weeks), you can consider reaching out to the contact provided in the job advertisement to inquire about the status of your application. Be professional and polite in your communication.
- Keep Applying: While waiting for responses, continue searching and applying for other suitable NHS job opportunities. Broaden your options and increase your chances of securing a position.
- Securing a job in the NHS as an international medical graduate (IMG) can be challenging and requires attention to detail.
- Creating a strong NHS Jobs profile is crucial, including filling out all necessary fields and crafting a tailored supporting statement.
- Highlight relevant qualifications, certifications, and language proficiency in your profile.
- Utilise search filters on the NHS Jobs website to find suitable job advertisements based on location, specialty, and job level.
- Read job descriptions and person specifications carefully, and save favourite job listings for future reference.
- Tailor your application to match the requirements of each job, addressing person specifications and showcasing relevant skills and experiences.
- Emphasise adaptability, willingness to learn, and commitment to patient care, even if you don’t meet all NHS experience requirements.
- Maximise your chances of success by being flexible with location and specialty, continuing clinical work, maintaining clinical skills and knowledge, and familiarising yourself with NHS practice.
- Consider a clinical attachment in the UK to gain experience and network with professionals.
- Remain patient and persistent throughout the selection process, follow up if necessary, and continue applying for suitable NHS job opportunities.