Date: 03 04 2023

Ceris Fender-Reid got her first complementary therapy job in the NHS in 1996 and has recruited and managed therapists in healthcare settings ever since. A former registered tutor for the Massage Training Institute and accredited tutor and assessor with VTCT, she taught complementary therapies for many years. Ceris loves supporting the professional development of therapists at all stages in their careers. She currently heads the complementary therapy service in cancer care at University College London Hospital (UCLH).

In this blog post, Ceris shares tips on how to make your application stand out to help land your dream complementary therapy job:

As a successful self-employed therapist, you’ve probably developed great skills in promoting what you offer whether through a website, social media or just talking about what you do. But do you know how best to make your application stand out to help you land your dream complementary therapy job? When I look at applications, I sometimes wish therapists had had a bit of guidance to help them best showcase their experience and skills. I hope this guide will help you to shine.


Job applications take time, but it is time invested in yourself and your career development. Register with online job sites such as NHS jobs so that you get alerts and look out on professional register and association websites and social media. When you see a job, read through all available information – the advert, job description and person specification. The job description (JD) tells you what the job involves but they’re often quite dry as they’re part of the employment contract for the successful applicant – so don’t be put off! The person specification (PS) tells you exactly what the employer is looking for. Go through honestly and see if you meet the criteria. Remember, desirable criteria are ‘extras’ on the top – it’s fantastic if you have them but don’t be put off applying if you don’t. The essential criteria are the ones you need to be able to nail.

Don’t apply for a job if you clearly don’t have the qualifications or experience they are asking for. If you’re underestimating yourself, ask someone who knows you well to go through the criteria with you.

If you’re not sure about anything having read all the information, there’ll usually be a contact on the job advert. Do reach out to ask any specific questions before you apply.

If the job’s not for you it may be for a colleague or friend, so do share, highlight, or send details to people you know. Networking is a great thing, and that good karma may come back to you when someone else spots your perfect job. Also, if the job is not for you, you may want to keep the organisation in mind for any future opportunities that might come up when you have more experience.

If you think the job might be for you, now is the time to find out as much as you can. Look at the organisation’s website and social media. As well as helping you decide if you want to apply it’ll make you better informed when writing your application and, if that goes well, at interview. Ask to have a phone conversation or informal visit if available. It shows you are serious and can really give you a ‘feel’ for the place and people and help you to get a sense of whether it would be somewhere you can see yourself being happy.

Completing the application or writing a CV

Allow yourself enough time but if time is limited follow these guidelines and do the best you can. I’ve recruited some fantastic people who saw the job just before the deadline and just went for it. Check how to apply. If it’s an online application that is how you must apply – sending a CV won’t help. But if an employer asks for a CV and covering letter do send them.

The most important thing is to make sure that your complementary therapy qualifications, professional registration and relevant experience are really clear and easy for the person reviewing applications to see. They will have a lot of applications to go through. Don’t hide your professional qualifications away among long lists of GCSEs or make them wade through all the jobs you ever did in a previous career as an actor, archivist, barrister or bartender to find your amazing complementary therapy experience.

You can highlight the most important and relevant information in a number of ways:

  • For things that need to be chronological, e.g. jobs/experience, listing the most recent first is always best unless you’re asked to do it otherwise.
  • If you’ve had to take a job doing something other than complementary therapy for the time being, explain why – so it draws the reader on to look at earlier experience when you were working in the complementary therapy field.
  • Put things into categories e.g. professional qualifications (complementary therapy), academic qualifications (GCSEs, A levels, degrees) CPD courses, or categorise complementary therapy experience and other experience.
  • For things that don’t have to be in chronological order put the most important first e.g. complementary therapy qualifications before your GCSEs, CPD that shows your interest in the area that the job is about before those that don’t.
  • Give more detail for the more important, less for the less.
  • Summarise and group together less important information, e.g. “between 2006 and 2015 I worked in the xxx industry as a xxx for a number of employers including xxx” unless the application says you must list every job you did going back say 10 years.

Give clear information by:

  • With qualifications – showing the level, the accrediting body, the training provider/college, the grade (if applicable) and the date. Otherwise, it can be hard to tell the difference between a professional qualification and a short CPD course.
  • Ensuring that you explain your complementary therapy roles whether employed, voluntary or self-employed clearly and in detail – what were your responsibilities, what client group, how many hours per week?
  • Including CPD – it shows you are committed to professional development, especially if it reflects the specialist area you are applying for as it shows your interest. Include the length of the training.

Draw out the positives:

  • For complementary therapy experience, draw out any similarities to what may be required in the job that you’re applying for. It might be a similar client group or need, or it might be managing your own bookings or working in a busy environment seeing x number of clients per day.
  • Many complementary therapists have had a previous career or may have needed to do other work while building their practice. Think about any transferable skills you have and highlight these e.g. teamwork, working under pressure, being self-motivated etc. Just don’t put in so much detail that your jobs in accounting or catering swamp your complementary therapy experience.

Writing the supporting statement (application) or covering letter (CV)

This is where you need to show why you’re perfect for the job and what you can offer. Don’t get it the other way round and focus it on why the job’s perfect for you! But do show enthusiasm. Avoid generalisations and sweeping statements “I’d be perfect for the job” “I am an amazing x, y, z” Show them why and how rather than telling them.

The supporting statement should:

  • Show that you meet any criteria on the person spec that haven’t already clearly been demonstrated in the rest of the application or CV. It can be helpful to highlight again as a summary even if you’ve already given them this information. For example, “I am a xxx registered reflexologist, aromatherapist and craniosacral therapist with x years’ experience of working with clients with xxx” or “I have good IT skills having used xxx both in my work as a therapist and my previous career in xxx”.
  • Demonstrate your interest and enthusiasm for this particular job with this particular organisation with this particular client group. How does your previous experience or CPD show this?  How does this work link to your values or aspirations as a therapist? What is your motivation for wanting to do this kind of work?

Also don’t be afraid to add in something brief but memorable about yourself as an individual. Often the recruitment process blocks out names so you’re just a number and this helps the person shortlisting have something that makes you memorable and human.

Finally, do format your text to help the recruiter find the key points as easily as possible. Paragraphs, subheadings, bullet points all help. However interesting your statement is they’re likely to have a lot of applications so will be scanning through fairly rapidly to find evidence to shortlist or not. Make it as easy as possible for them to find what they need to make it a yes!


Any complementary therapy job will involve some writing so make sure your application shows good written communication skills. It doesn’t matter if you are a terrible speller as long as you use spell check. If the online application system doesn’t allow spell checking write in a Word document, check spelling, then copy and paste it in. It’s also always a good idea to make sure you have a copy for future reference.

Our work is all about relationships. Communication skills will always be core to what we do as therapists and first impressions do count. So, whether you’re making an enquiry before you apply or asking the receptionist where to find the interview room, be the warm/friendly/thoughtful/polite/listening/professional person that you’d like to work with as a colleague or see as a complementary therapist. Build relationships and whether you’re successful with this job or whether you make a contact that leads to something else in the future, it’s all worth it. Even if you’re nervous, remember to smile. And of course, be yourself.

I hope you find the above useful, and I wish you the very best of luck with the next job you apply for!