5 Application Mistakes by Psychology Graduates

This is a post that has been bubbling for a while. I’ve asked every psychologist I know within my trust and other trusts about the common mistakes they see in applications from Support Workers to Assistant Psychologist. A lot of the mistakes outlined below can easily be rectified and hopefully land you that all important relevant job role. Do you recognise any of these common mistakes in your application?

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Generic Application

I have spoken about this many times in previous posts (check out the 7 Themes in any Assistant Psychologist Interview) and have let Psychology Graduates in on the secret that, employers CAN TELL when an application is generic and used for multiple posts. I know this can be time consuming to write multiple applications; however it doesn’t have to be so, as majority of your application about you as a person isn’t going to change. This is really the only way that you will progress in psychology as the downside to having a generic application form is that it doesn’t go into enough detail for the specific role.


Top Tip: In any application that you’re writing, ensure that you have at least mentioned the population that you are applying for and to write a little bit about your experience with that population. This doesn’t have to be in a clinical setting; for example you’ve got experience working with children as you look after your nieces and nephews



Application or Essay?

I know first-hand of how this feels when I shortlisted for an Assistant Psychologist role. I sat there for 2 days sifting through 100 applications. At first I was determined to read all of the applications and reflect on that candidate. However after about 4 hours, this became too much. For an employer to sit there and read countless applications that look like really thick essays are a huge ask. So why don’t you try this…..SHORTEN YOUR APPLICATION!! It doesn’t have to be the most detailed application ever, it just needs to be enough that the marker can see that you’ve took time to tailor your application.


Top Tip: I’ve said this many time but it DOES work! BULLET POINT how you meet the criteria in a very clear manner. The marker is grading your application against the Person/Job Specification so give them ZERO chance of rejecting you by hitting all their targets.


What not How

Again I’ve said this many times. REFLECTIVITY IS KEY! Without this you will never make it in Psychology. This is a fundamental principle of our profession, which is the ability to reflect on not only you as a clinician but you as a person. So many Graduates will ask me why they haven’t been offered an Assistant Psychologist role and when I ask about their experience I can see why. Majority of Graduates feel they have to tell you WHAT they’ve done instead of HOW they learnt it. If you can do this well, I guarantee you success as a psychologist.


Top Tip: with every bullet point, explain how you learnt the desired skill and how this made you feel. A lot of the time we learn skills by messing up and things going wrong. TELL THEM ABOUT THIS as believe it or not THIS IS WHAT THEY WANT TO HEAR!  



This is something you need to watch out for. Many different services have their preferred terminologies which may be a little different to what you’re used to. I’ll give you an age old example. Some services will call their service users “PATIENTS” whilst others will call their service users “CLIENTS”. Both are technically correct however the terminology is viewed differently by some clinicians who have a preference. Be careful of this and just be mindful of the words you use in your application.


Over Selling

This has to be the one of the biggest issues when it comes to applications. I’ve read some applications that have said that the candidate has done all sorts of training and experience that just isn’t possible at our level. One time I read an application that the person had experience in assessing and diagnosing ASD alone without any assistance or supervision. The person must have thought this was a good thing; however the clinician screening the applications saw right through this. Bottom line is, JUST BE YOURSELF!


Top Tip: No service wants the “finished product” so don’t try to portray you as the ultimate candidate. Nobody wants to work or help the “know it all” so be humble in your application and talk about your weaknesses along with your strengths. This is the best advice I can give you……



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