What you should have done 5 years ago

Picture1You read the trailer, you discussed it with your pals over coffee, animated a snapchat story about it .. and now’s episode 1, AKA: “Regrets”

Frankly, and we need to be honest with you, if you’re a month or two from applying for a senior post, and if this is the first time you’ve thought about this, then you’ve left it too late.   If you’re reading this four or five years ahead of application, that’s about right.   Here’s the sort of things you should have been doing years ahead of applying for a consultant post.

  • Ask some consultants –for example your supervisor – if you could see their CV, both current and from the time when they applied for an interview
  • Look at some person specification documents for consultant posts.
  • Write your CV. As an ideal, your CV should never be more than six months out of date.  Include, in your own generic copy of the CV, the areas which are blank and still need to be achieved.
  • Get acquainted with the NHS jobs standard application form, and think about how you are going to sell yourself through it.


You’ll also have needed to work out what sort of job you actually want to get – what about career advice?

Again, five years before applying for a post is a good place to think about career advice.   This will help you in two ways.  Firstly, it should help work out which aspects of your career you need develop towards consultant appointment.  Secondly, you may get good advice about the current and future market for jobs.  This changes fairly rapidly; ten years ago there were a lot of teaching posts around, with the expansion of the medical schools.  Now, the market seems much stronger in child protection, ambulatory paediatrics and high dependency care.

People vary in what they want from their career. Some people are so passionate about their specialty that they will go anywhere in the world to get the best training and the best consultant posts. Others want to stay in the same area at all costs, and are more open to doing different types of jobs. Most of us lie somewhere between these two extremes.

It’s important to emphasise here that people make some important choices for reasons which might not always be obvious; for example a national grid appointment will ordinarily require a move of region.  There are other pitfalls or balances to be struck, one being maintaining breadth for employability while avoiding the wishy washy career plan; for example: “I want to do a bit of ED, a bit of high dependency etc etc”, or the danger of appearing to be a failed specialist; though with the RCPCH SPIN modules provide a solid basis for special interest general paediatric training now.

Ideally, you should do a bit of career planning with someone who has some skills in this area. Many educational supervisors have some training through the local deanery. Other deaneries have specialist careers advisors.


Lastly, you should be aware that there is a very important angle that’s beyond the skills and experience. There is no doubt that one the many factors that will drive your appointment is the kind of person you are.  Some people describe “getting the right people on the bus”.  By this they mean that they feel it important recruit the right person, sometimes with deficiencies in some skills, than to appoint the wrong person, even if they have the right subspecialty skills.  Softer factors, like your ability to work in a team, work well with the multidisciplinary team, nurses and managers, be flexible – for example over rota problems, and to take leadership roles in sorting difficult problems are important. An old adage is worth bearing in mind:

Good people get good jobs, the best people get jobs created for them


  • Ian Wacogne, Vin Diwakar, Helen Jenkinson

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