So just when you think all of the hard work is over, you survived all of your clinical placements and the very full-on final year, passed your degree and have become a RD (registered dietitian)…just when you think you can finally relax and no more hard work will be needed, comes the job hunt. This is very relevant to me right now as I am exactly at that stage! I’m finding myself spending a lot of time writing individual personal statements for different jobs, cover letters, CVs and filling in online application forms, this really takes a lot of time and hard work! Perhaps I was naive thinking it wouldn’t be so hard to find a job. In fact, there haven’t been a great amount of jobs that I can apply for, you see when you graduate as an RD you have to apply for a band 5 job (that is if you wish to work within the NHS, not everyone’s dream but it is a good starting place to get experience at least), and band 5 jobs are pretty hard to come by, that on top of the fact that all of the other graduates across the UK are doing the exact same thing as you, makes it very hard to even get to interview stage! Hence the amount of time needed to be spent on personal statements etc.
Now as I have previously spoken of, there are many different directions in which you can take with your degree, however I believe the statistic is something like 80-90% of recent nutrition and dietetic students go into the NHS (don’t quote me on that!). So, no matter how lovely it would be to waltz into a specialised private job, the reality is that you probably need at least 1 year experience to be able to apply. So getting a band 5 job in the NHS will be great for this, you will see lots of different specialities at work, get lots of experience and be able to go on training courses for whichever route you may like to follow.
Here are some tips I have found useful for when applying for dietetic/nutritionist jobs:
- Jobs very rarely are kept up online until the closing date stated, way too many people apply within the first 24-48 hours for them to be able to keep them on, and so they tend to come off again very quickly. So get a generic application statement written and ready to go, so you can just adjust it to whichever role you are applying for when you see the job come up and get the application in that day, or at the latest the next day.
- Don’t worry about coming across as too keen, the employer will not think that, and in fact I have heard from the departments I worked in for my placements that they really like it if you ring up and enquire about the job before applying, that way they might remember you when the application comes through. If applying through the NHS jobs website, the employer does not get to see your name/sex/age on initial application, therefore maybe mention something about a particular placement or previous job if wishing to be remembered.
- Check daily for jobs, a lot of websites will allow you to register for email updates on new job releases to make it a bit easier.
- Fit your personal statement/cover letter to the position applied for, DO NOT just send out generic ones to everyone. The employer wants to feel like their job is the only one you want and that you have spent time reading up on the job spec and about the hospital/company.
- When searching for jobs or signing up for job alerts, be sure to include both ways of spelling: dietitian AND dietician (and nutritionist!) to cover all bases.
- Don’t make your personal statement/CV/cover letter too long, about a page is perfect, maximum a page and a half
- Get some extra experience volunteering/shadowing within the dietetic field to set you apart from the rest
- Read up about the hospital/trust/department that you are applying for, you may be able to mention something that really shows you know what you’re talking about and really want a job there (also helpful for interview)
- And lastly, don’t despair, you will find a job eventually, it just take some longer than others. Keep looking and applying, and hopefully you will gradually perfect your application/interview skills and get the job you really want!
If you do happen to be in a similar position with the job hunt as I am, here are a few websites I have found helpful when looking for RD/nutritionist jobs:
- NHS jobs
- UK sports jobs
- Guardian jobs
- BDA jobs (British Dietetic Association)
- The Priory Hospital jobs
- Medic Hunter
- Medair (for those looking at international relief work)
- Dietetics today (an online magazine for those BDA members)
- Perhaps you could join Linkedin (I am aware a lot of people get headhunted through this online professional social site)
Let me know if you know of any additional good sites for dietetic/nutrition jobs, or likewise have any good tips for application/interview!