What is the best practice when applying for jobs before receiving RCA results?
It’s that time of year again, as many ST3s wait for their RCA results it always raises the question of when is the best time to apply for your post CCT jobs.
There are so many factors which play into this which don’t lend themselves to saying someone either should or shouldn’t be applying for a role before they have their RCA results.
Whilst it’s no secret there are literally hundreds of GP vacancies nationally and a perceived shortage of GPs there are several things newly qualifying GPs should consider which will inform the next steps they take. Typically, we recommend applying for roles as soon as you are ready – that doesn’t specifically mean you have to your RCA results in hand.
For a lot of doctors, they aren’t necessarily training in the area that they ultimately plan to settle in and work as either a salaried GP or Partner. Something we are frequently discussing with GPs on the run up to CCT is preferred location.
One of the factors which GPs should definitely be considering is where they ultimately want to be and what kind of role, they see themselves in. The best way of understanding what is available, and the kind of time frames and lead times is to speak to an expert [enter Menlo Park].
Speaking to one of our consultants is possibly the best first step you can take. Our advice is free and will genuinely point you in the right direction based on you own circumstances. In relation to location, we will be able to guide you around the kind of availability in any given area.
What we see very frequently is that whilst there is a shortage of people in healthcare, practices value above all else is fit. The majority of practices are absolutely not taking a bum-on-seat approach. The benefit for prospective candidates is that time is on your side. Most practices following a successful introduction will wait for someone to join them. As a consultancy we have worked with lead times of 1 week all the way through to 18 months (albeit they were emigrating back to the UK).
If you are looking at moving areas, we will be able to give you an idea of role availability and general understanding of the employment market in an area. It can differ quite drastically if you were to compare rural Norfolk to Oxfordshire for example.
If you are moving to an area where there is more competition for roles, we would always recommend you start looking as soon as possible, this gives you the best chance of finding the best role available and not just the most available – practices will wait for the right candidate! In situations like this, we would thoroughly recommend speaking to us and starting the process as soon as possible.
If you are moving to an area either with high numbers of vacancies or an area with a high density of practices – and as a result more vacancies – you can potentially be more selective on your time frames as there is a higher likely hood of it still leaning towards a sellers’ market.
Other factors which might influence your decision on applying for roles either before or after RCA results is whether you have any specific requirements to accommodate. These might be slightly atypical working patterns, term time only, or perhaps you have something educational in mind like a fellowship or special interest you are looking to develop.
This ties into the kind of motivations we’ve mentioned above in that the sooner you start to the process the more likely you are to find what you are looking for – you can afford to be a bit picky!
If you are very familiar with an area or perhaps looking to stay on with your training practice, the number of unknowns is considerably lower – in instances like this you can probably afford to wait till you have your RCA results.
Tier 2 Sponsorship
If you are a GP requiring a tier 2 visa, we would recommend in no uncertain terms that you start looking 6 months in advance. The number of sponsoring practices nationally has increased significantly in the last few years so options have increased. That being said, the visa process very frequently seems to throw up issues of some description – allowing more time will hopefully alleviate some stress on the run up to CCT.
What are your options?
There are a few things you can do on the run up to sitting and hopefully passing your RCA – if you chat to us we can give you a bit of advice about what roles are available now, alongside which practices we are aware of that might be forward planning to recruit into roles later in the year – this might help inform your decision.
- Your first option is to actively start discussing with practices what you are looking for and potentially accepting a role with them subject to passing your RCA.
- Second, you can start the process after sitting your RCA but before your results with a view that you could accept a role once you’ve got your results – if this is your plan, talk to the practice, keep things warm and keep them in the loop.
- Finally, you could wait till you have got your results before applying for roles. Whilst there are several compelling reasons to start looking earlier, this is probably the most common approach and one we completely understand. You should typically still have a couple of months ahead of you before CCT so time to start your job hunt.
The pros are that you hopefully have a clear path ahead to qualifying and can start to firm things up with the confidence you can commit. The downside is that you might be more limited on the options available and the competition for roles slightly higher – especially around the summer when more GPs are finishing their training.
You’ve accepted a role but failed your RCA, what next?
The elephant in the room for a lot of people is rightly that without passing their RCA whether they want to accept a role or not is irrelevant. As we’ve outlined however there are number of good reasons to start to think about things as soon as possible. Unfortunately, we do come across instances where people plan ahead, start the process of looking for a role, accept something in principle but don’t pass the exam. In scenarios like this it’s really important to update the practice as soon as possible.
Often practices seem open to keeping the offer available to candidates but it’s really important to keep them in the loop about resit dates, expected results and your plans – drop them a message every now and again just to check in! This builds rapport and trust and usually buys some goodwill.
If a practice can’t keep a role open, the likelihood is that they would be open to keeping communication open in the prevailing months. Pick things back up closer to your resit date – you never know they may have another positioning opening up!