It may not have occurred to you that you could arrange an informal visit with a prospective employer, but this practice is actually very common within the healthcare industry with the majority of employers keen to accommodate.
It's a fantastic way to gain insight into a new workplace environment and assess whether you think that environment would be right for you. It's also another opportunity to make new contacts, ask questions, demonstrate enthusiasm and make a good impression.
If you've seen a specific vacancy you're interested in, or details about an open day, there will usually be contact details for the relevant manager(s) and instructions on how to get in touch.
If you are enquiring speculatively, ring the main contact number for the employer or workplace and ask to speak to the recruitment department.
If you feel stuck on what to say, have a look at the phrases below for ideas:
Be specific about which particular area or setting you'd want to visit and/or any people or particular teams you'd want to spend time with on the day. This will help the employer structure your visit and make sure you're making the most your time there.
Before your visit, make sure you do your research. You'll want to be able to demonstrate that you are well prepared and have already taken the time to find out about the employer. You may also want to read up on any awards, research, pilots or initiatives that may be going on within that organisation.
If you're planning an informal visit in response to a particular job advert you're interested in, familiarise yourself with the Job Description and Person Specification.
Essentially you should be trying to assess whether you think the job and working environment would be right for you, and checking that your expectations about the role are realistic.
You may want to try and evaluate factors such as:
You may want to ask about:
There may be instances where you will need to make a disclosure to your future employer during the recruitment process. For example, you may have been investigated, sanctioned, referred to the NMC, have NMC conditions of practice, or predict there will be problems with your references.
Arranging an informal visit might be a good way for you to put the feelers out with regards to this. Speak to the relevant manager discreetly to explain what happened, and ask whether they would consider accepting an application from you.
Having a chat with the manager in an informal capacity can often be really effective, especially if you have made a really good impression. If you do end up making an application, you may feel a lot less anxious knowing that you've already made the disclosure. For advice and tips about how to make a disclosure, please see here.
Remember that even though it's an "informal" visit, the employer will be watching to see see how you conduct yourself and interact with others. Simple things like thanking someone for showing you around, holding the door open for others, or smiling at patients can make a big difference.
If you have judged by the end of the visit that the job is right for you, don't be afraid to tell the employer that you feel this way; it's a really nice and positive note to end the visit on. Remember, employers want to hire people who are genuinely interested in working for them.
If and when you apply for a job there, make sure you mention this in your covering letter or supporting statement.
If informal visits aren't possible due to the pandemic, you can still ask to arrange an informal chat over telephone or video call.