Every stage of the recruitment and selection process is competitive. 

The key to improving your chances of getting short-listed or obtaining an offer of employment is knowing that you are applying for the right job.  This might sound simplistic but knowing that you are applying for the right job involves self-awareness of your skills and personal attributes, clarity of what you are looking for in a future career and evidence of information or experience you have gathered about the career.  This information or experience provides you with a chance to compare your skills with what is needed for success within the specialty.

If you are clear that this is a good fit, then begin preparing for the recruitment and selection process by carefully reading the person specification for the specialty and review your own experience that is relevant.  The current application form asks questions about your motivation for the specialty, research and teaching experience and core competencies listed in the person specification. At CT/ST1 level, many of the competencies are the same, although how they are applied in practice will be different.

For example, good communication skills are necessary for both paediatrics and obstetrics and gynaecology, although different aspects of communication will be most important for a trainee to possess.  A paediatrician needs to be able to communicate with a child and adult simultaneously managing the needs of both.  An obstetrician in a labour ward needs to be able to communicate with patients that are under considerable stress and must remain calm under pressure when doing so.

This is a very simplistic example but this means that when the person specification states good communication skills you should begin thinking about what that means for the specialty and drawing examples from your experience that illustrate that type of communication.

It is recommended that you talk to others about what these competencies mean and seek help in ‘unpicking’ your own experiences.  Once you have a considerable number of examples in mind, you can begin to write an application form and prepare for an assessment centre or interview.