It is the Trust's responsibility to write the job description for any consultant post. In practice, this will be the responsibility of the clinical lead or some other consultant. The Trust has an obligation to consult a Regional Adviser of the relevant Royal College (so-called "Royal College Representative") as they may provide valuable input on various aspects of the job description based on their knowledge of what other Trusts do. In theory, the Trust should take account, or at least consider seriously any comments made by the Royal College representative. When the post involves significant teaching commitments and/or research commitments, suitable representatives from the University should be involved.
The job description will set out the details of the job and will typically include the following items:
In many cases, the job description is accurate and therefore reflects well what the job is. In such cases it will give you a good idea of whether this is the right job for you. It is however worth noting that not all job descriptions are accurate or honest about the position being advertised. In particular:
Overall though, most job descriptions are fair, but the lesson to be drawn from the above is that you must make sure that you enquire thoroughly about the nature and particulars of the post during the application process. Too often, candidates are so desperate to get a job that some end up in the wrong job, which can then be difficult to resign from. The ideal platform to gain all this information are the pre-shortlisting visit and the pre-interview visit.
The person specification is an important document for your application to a consultant post as it dictates the requirements in terms of training, experience and personality which you will be expected to demonstrate through the consultant application form, your consultant CV or your consultant interview.
The criteria are normally set out in two separate columns:
and deals with topics such as:
In view of the level of competition for many of the consultant posts on offer, it is highly likely that a number of candidates will possess all the criteria required, both essential and desirable. Therefore, you must carefully consider the consultant posts to which you are applying, ensuring that you possess as many of the desirable criteria as possible.
Although some person specifications can be non-descript and simply regurgitate the basic criteria set out in the GMC's Good Medical Practice, most have features which are specifically related to the consultant post that you are applying for and set our specific criteria against which you will be assessed both through the consultant application form and the consultant interview. Your answers to questions, both written and verbal, will therefore need to be tailored towards it to ensure that you give the panel what they are looking for. The person specification may also draw attention to specific areas of skills which you may have or not, and may therefore play a decisive role in your decision to apply for a specific post.
If there are desirable criteria that you do not fulfil, don't panic! If no one has those criteria either then you are safe. In addition, if you are much stronger than other candidates on other criteria then you will need to make sure that these are clearly emphasised in your consultant application form and at your consultant interview so that the panel is aware of the full package of skills and experience that you have to offer.
However, if the criteria in question are clearly essential despite appearing in the "desirable" column (e.g. a fellowship, or specific experience) and if other candidates are clearly at an advantage compared to you, you will need to decide whether it is worth applying. In some cases, a well organised pre-shortlisting visit or phone call may provide you with the information you require to make a final decision.
If you read any person specification, you will notice that most jobs require candidates to be less than 6 months from CCT. For jobs where they require someone urgently, the Trust may require candidates to be less than 3 months from CCT or even to already have a CCT (particularly if they also require a post-CCT fellowship). This requirement comes from the National Health Service (Appointment of Consultants) Regulations and is designed to ensure that candidates who apply for a consultant post are in possession of their CCT by the time they take up the post. Indeed, 6 months before CCT date, all candidates will have had their Penultimate Year Assessment and will therefore have a clear idea as to whether they are on track to obtain their CCT by the due date.
There are two things that you must know about this requirement:
Bear in mind that this requirement has been imposed primarily to make sure that Trusts don't have to interview scores of candidates who may not gain entry to the Specialist Register, thereby wasting valuable space in the recruitment process. The line has to be drawn somewhere and 6 months sounds like a fair timescale. Therefore do not be surprised if you bang your head against bureaucracy
Similary to the consultant job description, there are a number of issues which you may come across with the consultant person specification:
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