Regardless of the current situation with the pandemic, we all know looking for and applying for jobs can be a challenging process. It may be your first job, or it could be a complete change of direction in your career, understanding what employers look for on applications can be extremely useful.
We have explored two different job vacancies that have been advertised on the NHS Jobs website – www.jobs.nhs.uk - we will look at what to include to create a ‘stand out CV’ (Curriculum Vitae). The two jobs vacancies that we have explored require either a Level 2 or Level 3 Health and Social Care Qualification: One being a Support Worker for Mental Health Concern and the other being a Nursing Assistant for a NHS foundation trust, in a specialist emergency care hospital.
So, what to include in your CV to make you stand out from the rest of the applicants….
When updating your CV, it is important that you make it relevant for the job you are applying for. For example, employers do want to know about your first part-time job in a Café, but not in detail – they are more concerned about the transferrable skills that you developed rather than knowing, that you understand how to make a cappuccino (unless you’re applying to be a Barista that is!). Transferrable skills are a skillset that aren’t specific to a particular job, they are skills that can be ‘transferred’ to any job role – an example of a transferable skills could be teamwork – the ability to work effectively in a team; this can be used in any job role.
Often, CVs are the first ‘things’ that employers look at in order to see whether you are suitable for the role. Your CV will determine whether you progress to the next stage of the application. So, we need to make sure they catch the employer's eye.
CVs are generally formatted as such:
Education/ Qualifications/ Training
Work/ Relevant Experience
For the purpose of this article, we are going to use a scenario for each job vacancy.
Scenario One - is a 20-year-old female who is looking for a job after finishing college. She wants to work in a Health Care Assistant role. The female, Sarah, has just completed a CACHE Level 3 Health and Social Care Qualification and is looking to start a Career in the Health and Social Care Industry.
The other is a male, in his 40s, who is looking for a change of career and considering a Health Care Assistant role, after several months looking after his elderly parents. Daniel recently retrained and qualified with a CACHE Level 2 Health and Social Care Qualification.
Here are the two job vacancies which I have explored (Vacancies correct of March 2020):
NHS - Support Worker – Mental Health Concern.
Salary: £16,254 - £16,873
Job Description: We currently have an exciting opportunity for a compassionate and committed individual to join us as a Support Worker to assist at Pinetree Lodge, one of our Older People’s services. As a Support Worker, you will be passionate about helping to improve the wellbeing of those living with dementia. (taken from the Mental Health Matters Vacancy on NHS Jobs).
The qualification requirements for this role: Essential – good level of education. Desirable – Level 2 or greater in Health and Social Care.
NHS - Nursing Assistant – NHS Hospital.
Salary: £17, 652 - £19,020
Job Description: We are looking to recruit highly motivated, enthusiastic individuals, who can cope with a high-pressured clinical environment. Good interpersonal, verbal & written communication skills are required to work in Ward 12 at Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital.
The qualification requirements for this role: Essential – Understanding of patient’s basic needs. Previous care experience preferably in a healthcare setting. Desirable – Level 2 in Direct Care/ Health/ Health and Social care.
So, let us look more closely at what to include on your CV.
- First of all, it might seem obvious (but trust me, sometimes people do not always give these the time they deserve!), it is important to look at the job advert, read through the person specification and job description thoroughly. Look at what skills and qualities the employer is looking for and tailor your CV to match (only add skills and qualities that you possess, employers may ask for examples of where you have developed those skills).
Daniel’s CV should showcase the skills and qualities that he has acquired through his Health and Social Care qualification and through the experience of caring for his elderly parents. He would then be able to confidently explain these skills to an employer.
Above is a screenshot of the ’Values and Personal Attributes’ that the vacancy deems ’essential criteria’ for the position of a support worker.
So, what could his skills profile look like?
‘Highly motivated and a compassionate person. Recently qualified with a Health and Social Care qualification and have experience of caring for elderly people. Keen to learn new skills and responds positively to new challenges. A friendly, caring person, with a solution focused approach to dealing with new situations. Looking for a new role, to extend knowledge of caring for others and put recent experience into practice.’
Like Daniel, Sarah should showcase her skills and qualities that she has acquired through her Health and Social Care qualification when during this time, she completed at least one work placement, so it’s important for her to draw upon the skills gained from the relevant work experience.
Above is a screenshot of the ‘skills and abilities and personal attributes’ that the vacancy deems ‘essential and desirable’ for the position of a nursing assistant.
So, what could Sarah’s skills profile look like?
‘Confident individual with excellent communication skills, recently qualified with a Health and Social Care qualification. Friendly, helpful person with fantastic interpersonal skills. Team player and hard worker gained through work placement. Looking to start a Career in the Health and Social Care industry.
2. In the Education/Qualification section, you should list the qualifications you hold. This section is short and to the point - most relevant Qualifications first, and then a list of academic achievements in chronological order after:
Name of Education/Training Provider.
Date started and finished.
Here is where Daniel would explain where and when he achieved his CACHE Level 2 Health and Social Care Qualification and any other qualifications he has.
Sarah should explain her CACHE Level 3 Health and Social Care Qualification and her school GCSEs.
3. In the Work Experience section, it is important to explain the transferable skills and experience that you have gained from any work experience you have.
Like the qualification section, ensure work experience details are in chronological order.
Daniel should include the experience of looking after his elderly parents, what type of tasks he carried out and the skills and qualities he has developed from this.
As Daniel is looking for a Career change, it is important to look at what work he has done previously and pick out skills and qualities that can be beneficial to the new role he is applying for. For example, if his past roles he may have developed time management skills, organisation skills, problem solving etc. These are all skills that could benefit him when he is applying for the new career role. The trick is to make them ‘match’ to those required in the person specification.
Sarah should include her work placements which she will have carried out on her college course, detailing the exposure to industry, the things that she learnt on placement and the skills and qualities she developed. Sarah would also include any part-time work she may have had during college/ school and any voluntary work she may have done.
4. In the Hobbies and Interests section, it is important to highlight the things you enjoy doing. If you are into fitness, sports, reading, drawing etc, put them into your CV. Employers want to know what kind of person you are as well as the qualifications and experience you have. Your hobbies and interests develop skills and qualities as well. For example, if you play a team sport such as Rugby some of the skills a person could possess are teamwork and communication skills – again, this will benefit a workplace, particularly if they match the person specification!
Both Daniel and Sarah would make a short statement, explaining their hobbies and interests.
Remember - overall, it is important to keep your CV concise, relevant and up to date.
After conducting some research, asking employers what makes a CV stand out to them, I have compiled some responses from Health and Social Care or Childcare Employers:
“Something that is personalised to the job being advertised. I don’t really like seeing general CVs as I believe CVs tailored to the job role shows that a candidate has researched the role and has taken their time to think about how their skills set is suited to the job I am advertising.”
“Nothing too long. I want to be able to clearly see that you are qualified for the role and have skills that will be beneficial- I will gather the finer details during the interview process.”
“We don’t often have the time to pour over the detail of the CV so, for me, it’s all about the opening and whether something in it catches my attention – this is usually something that clearly shows ‘this person cares’”.
“Working in the care industry is all about personality and this needs to shine through the CV. The best CVs I have read provide some examples that demonstrate people are genuine, trustworthy and have the same values as my company”.
So, what is stopping you? Go on have a go at reviewing your CV and make it shine, just like you!