Applying for a job in the NHS

Once you’ve found the right job then you apply through the website – NHS Jobs or Trac - or via the recruitment agency.  

If applying on these websites, the online forms will take you through the process. There are two main sections

  • information about you and your jobs
  • supporting information/how you meet the person specification.

There is also an NHS Jobs YouTube channel to help with the application form.

Agencies may ask you to apply by CV or application form.

Immigration status and visas

First, you will need to mention your immigration status including details of any permit. If you are already in the UK with an existing visa such as a spousal, student or graduate visa, you'll need to share details of this.

If you are offered a job, you'll need a certificate of sponsorship which allows you to enter or remain under the temporary sponsored work visa categories. This includes the Skilled Worker visa. Once the certificate is issued, you can apply for a visa. 


Anyone from outside the UK (excluding the Republic of Ireland) needs permission from UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) to work in the UK and may need entry clearance before travelling here.  

UK Visas and Immigration is responsible for managing migration. You will need to meet certain requirements and demonstrate you have the right to work in the UK to obtain a visa or entry clearance. You can do this via:

  • the points-based immigration system
  • the EU settlement scheme
  • a biometric residence permit
  • If successful in your application/interview and offered a job, the employer will issue a certificate of sponsorship which will support your visa application
  • If you are in the UK and have an existing visa – such as a graduate visa, you may be able to switch to a skilled worker visa

Professional information

You will also need to provide the following information:

  • professional qualifications – so employers can confirm you are qualified for the job
  • additional training – details should be tailored to the job you are applying for, and demonstrate ongoing professional development
  • membership of a UK professional body such as the Royal College of Occupational Therapists, the Royal College of Podiatry or the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapy 
  • Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) registration will be a requirement to work as an AHP in the UK. Depending on the advert, it may not be a requirement for applying for the role so check the advert carefully  

Employment history

Your employment history is your chance to show that you have the experience and skills for the role. A few thing to consider:

  • use active language to describe what you have done  – highlighting not just basic professional skills, but those specific to that role so read the job description carefully
  • include additional responsibilities to show other skills – for example you may have supervised staff, audited or evaluated the service or made service improvements
  • include any particular achievements

Supporting information and meeting the person specification

If you have the essential qualifications and necessary experience, the supporting information is your chance to show why you're right for the job. It can be the most important section when it comes to shortlisting.

Essential criteria 

The job description or person specification will have essential and desirable criteria. The essential criteria is what you need to have to be able to apply for the job. If you don’t have these you would not be considered suitable for the position and would not be shortlisted.

Desirable criteria

The desirable criteria are the additional skills or experiences that are considered to help a candidate perform better in the role.

How you demonstrate you meet the criteria will be structured differently depending on how you are applying:

  • through NHS Jobs, you will need to explain how you meet essential and desired job requirements in the person specification in two separate sections
  • on Trac jobs it is a general personal statement where you include all of the information in one section
  • if you are applying by CV – for example with an agency, you can put some of this information in a cover letter, or an introductory section in the CV – but it will need to be brief and should be specific to the job you are applying for

Person specification

Wherever possible cover each essential point in the person specification. This will help you get shortlisted for interview. You may also describe why you want this job and the professional opportunities it offers to you.

It is also a chance to demonstrate self-awareness and reflect on your skills. This may be learning from experiences/training and how this has had an impact on you professionally. You may also want to write about the areas you need to develop and what you have done to address this so far. This demonstrates willingness to learn and being proactive. For example:

  • NHS experience
  • understanding of UK systems

Don’t be afraid to sell yourself! Describe different scenarios and settings you have worked in, examples of leadership you have demonstrated to improve patient goals and outcomes - at an individual and wider level.

Read your supporting information carefully before submitting. Look for spelling mistakes or grammatical errors as these can put employers off. You can write your supporting information on Microsoft Word or similar software to check it and then copy and paste it onto job websites.

Driving in the UK

Many AHP roles will require regular travel so driving may be included in the person specification. You can apply for a Provisional Driving Licence in the UK when you have been settled in the country for at least 185 days.

UK health language

The NHS and the UK health system use terms, abbreviations and acronyms, some of which you may not be aware of.

You can use the job description and person specification to identify unfamiliar terms and research these. It will help develop your understanding of them and, importantly, means you can think about how your experience relates to this, describe it in your personal statement and answer interview questions.

Below are some examples of terms suggested by international AHPs as being less familiar:

  • service improvement is improving patient outcomes, a focus on their goals and needs or processes to improve the service you are working in
  • safeguarding is protecting health, wellbeing and human rights and enabling people to live free from harm, abuse and neglect. It is considered to be a responsibility of all NHS staff 
  • lone working is where you may be out of sight or earshot of a colleague, examples include
    • paramedics and ambulance personnel
    • community mental health workers
    • NHS workers travelling from location to location
    • therapists in one-to-one appointments or house visits
  • NHS values - If you're applying for a job either directly in the NHS or in an organisation that provides NHS services, you'll be asked to demonstrate the values of the NHS Constitution and how they would apply in your everyday work 
  • Continuing Professional Development (CPD)  is how you learn and develop throughout your career, ensuring your skills and knowledge are up to date so that you can practise safely 
  • Clinical governance ensures that NHS organisations are always improving the quality of their services so that clinical care can flourish. It can be broken down into the following areas
    • clinical effectiveness
    • risk management
    • patient experience and involvement
    • communication
    • strategic, resource and learning effectiveness

You may think about how you have used these ideas in your practice to support patient care, or your awareness of organisational models that utilised these principles and how this impacted on your practice. 


Next step - interviews

Get some background on what can you expect and some tips on a sucessful interview

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