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RCN Careers: Dismissal

Applying for a job following a dismissal

Support for you during the application process

If you are applying for a job following an investigation, dismissal or NMC referral, we understand this can be a difficult time for you. 

The RCN Careers Service can offer advice on how to broach and manage a disclosure, and offer support when you apply for a new job.

If you've been investigated, disciplined, dismissed, or referred to the NMC we understand this can be difficult when it comes to looking for a new job. Although you may feel nervous about raising these issues, remember that most employers are seeking recruits who can demonstrate honesty, openness and integrity.

Many employers are moving towards Values Based Recruitment and will be assessing candidates to check that they have these qualities. A recruitment panel will usually respect you for taking the difficult step of talking about your situation and showing how you are trying to move forward with your career.

Unless it has been specified otherwise a regulatory body (e.g. the NMC, DBS, etc) then there is nothing to stop you applying for jobs within healthcare, as long as you are up front and honest with any prospective employer or agency.

How to broach a disclosure

In relation to disclosure, first, be open and honest about what has happened, trying to be factual and concise. For example, if the investigation or dismissal relates to a clinical error, or similar, we suggest:

  • Being factual about what has happened
  • Describing what you have learnt, through reflection and relating back to the NMC Code
  • Describing any formal or informal learning you have completed - for example, through study days, work based competencies, e learning or self-directed learning, such as through the RCN’s online learning pages
  • How you have moved forward to address the issues raised – for example work experience gained since the incident
  • Identifying any further actions you intend to take, or specific support you might need from your employer, whilst remaining clear that you will take ownership of your future development.

Try to avoid being negative about your previous employer. For example, if you believe that poor systems contributed to you making mistakes, outline the facts about the systems in place, without passing judgement, and state what you would do if you were in this situation again, to ensure patient safety.

Although you may feel nervous about raising these issues, remember that most employers are seeking recruits who can demonstrate honesty, openness and integrity. Many employers are moving towards Values Based Recruitment and will be assessing candidates to check that they have these qualities. A recruitment panel will usually respect you for taking the difficult step of talking about your situation and showing how you are trying to move forward with your career.

Disclosure at application stage

Some application forms will ask you directly if you have been dismissed, investigated, sanctioned or referred to the NMC/DBS, etc. You must answer honestly.

If you don’t disclose something when you’ve been directly asked to do so, this can lead to withdrawal of a job offer. If you’re a nurse of midwife, it’s also likely you will be considered in breach of the NMC Code for being dishonest.

If the application doesn’t ask for this information, you can choose to:

  • Disclose it somewhere within your application anyway
  • Wait to see if you get shortlisted, and then contact the employer to disclose it
  • Disclose it at interview stage

Remember, the supporting statement should ultimately be about how you have the skills and qualities to do the job.

Disclosure at interview stage

You may prefer to disclose an incident at the interview stage. You could do this at the start of the interview to get it out of the way. Alternatively you may feel you want to bring it up at the end of the interview, after you’ve had time to make an impression. It will be a matter of personal preference and judgment.

Practice what you’re going to say and rehearse it several times. If you’d like interview coaching or help with interview techniques, you can book an appointment with one of our careers advisers by calling 0345 772 6100.

Remember that ultimately, the interview will be about providing evidence to show how you have the skills required to do the job. 

Problems with references

If you are concerned about information which you know will be disclosed in a reference, again we advise you to follow the guidance above.

If you think your reference is unfair, wish to challenge the reference, or need general advice about employment rights, please contact RCN Direct.

Advice on applying for jobs and interview skills

We can provide feedback on your CV, covering letters and the supporting statement section of your application form. We also provide interview coaching, via telephone. To make an appointment, please call 0345 772 6100.

Applying for a job following investigation or dismissal

Use this document for guidance if you are applying for a job following an investigation, sanctions or dismissal

RCN advice: dismissal

This guide advises RCN members facing dismissal.

RCN advice: workplace investigations

A guide for RCN members on workplace investigations.
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Careers advice

RCN members can make an appointment with a careers adviser. Contact the RCN on 0345 772 6100. You can call us from 8.30am to 8.30pm, seven days a week.

RCN Direct