The current job market for Band 5 SLTs in the UK is competitive and so newly qualified SLTs need to try to make themselves stand out from the crowd when applying for posts. Here are a few tips which may help:
Put yourselves in the shoes of the prospective employer
If you had 50 job applications, how would you sort through them? Would you go through each one in detail? Would you have a process of elimination and select a few for more careful analysis? Would you find long, text-heavy applications interesting to read? The chances are you would try to cut down the number of applications rather than reading all 50 in detail. Therefore, applicants should try to make their personal statements stand out on paper. There also needs to be a balance between being concise and giving enough information.
Say how you acquired your skills
You need to say why you are a good candidate for the job and give evidence. It’s easy to say things such as “I have excellent communication skills” but without examples of how you acquired those skills, it becomes a bland statement. Think about previous jobs in which you acquired relevant experience, any related voluntary work and work placements you have done. What did you contribute? How did you make a difference?
Attendance at one or two Special Interest Group (SIG) study days would show that you are proactive and motivated. SIGs usually provide certificates of attendance, which could help to make you stand out from the crowd a little more.
Tailor your application
Your prospective employer needs to see that you have read the job description and have a good idea of what the job entails. They need to know that you really want that particular job and that you aren’t just using a generic application. You need to show that your skills and experience match the requirements for that specific job. While applying for jobs can be tiring and at times disheartening, making that extra effort can really pay off.
Prepare for your interview
Interviews for newly qualified SLT posts can vary hugely. The job requirements listed in the job description might give you a good idea of the types of questions you may be asked. For example, if you are applying for a post on a stroke unit and one of the requirements is the ability to work effectively as part of a multidisciplinary team, you might be asked about your experience of working in a MDT or how you would deal with a difficult colleague. Think of examples you can give. Prepare and practice giving examples which demonstrate that you have the skills required for the job.
Revise notes from university lectures and work placements. Doing so will make you feel more confident in your own knowledge and better able to answer questions well.
Be confident, positive and enthusiastic
- Interviews can be nerve-racking and it can be hard to relax. However, it is important that you try to relax as much as you possible.
- Speak slowly and clearly. Don’t be afraid to ask your interviewer to repeat a question if you are unsure what they mean or what they have said. It is better to do so than to answer a question inappropriately.
- Try to think positive thoughts. Be confident in your own abilities. You have been chosen for interview because you have made a good application.
- Demonstrate your enthusiasm. You need to show your prospective employer that you want that particular job. Talk about related experiences which were particularly positive. What did you enjoy? What did you find rewarding? Why would you like to have the post?
- Show you are interested in that particular post. Prepare questions that you can ask which demonstrate your interest.
We hope the above tips will help you when you are seeking your first SLT post. It may take time but you will get there. An exciting profession awaits you! Best of Luck!