Your pre-registration year

Tips for pre-registration applicants

Guide to applying for a pre-registration optometrist placement from optometrist Hassnain Safdar

As you approach your second year of studies, the process of finding and applying for your pre-registration optometrist placement begins.

Most students will typically start the process in October and November. However, it's not unheard of for some students to find a placement in the weeks running up to graduation.

The quest to secure a pre-registration placement is a task that many optometry students dwell upon, but with the appropriate preparation and organisation you'll be sure to impress employers and gain your desired placement.

The pre-registration application process

Applying for pre-registration at a multiple

The list below shows the typical schedules for pre-registrations visits, and application deadlines, for several of the key multiples - these may vary annually.

  • Specsavers: Visit – October. Deadline – November
  • Vision Express: Visit – October. Deadline – January
  • Boots Opticians: Visit – November. Deadline – December/January

Following a successful application, you will be invited to an assessment centre. These are designed to be interactive, where you will work in groups with other applicants, after which you will sit an interview.

Some assessment centres also carry out a 20 minute written assessment to assess a candidate's numerical skills, clinical knowledge and commercial acumen, so consider these aspects in your preparation.

Successful candidates are typically offered a summer placement for a duration of four to six weeks. Following the summer experience, an offer of a pre-registration optometrist placement is usually made.

You may be interested to see the pre-registration optometrist vacancies currently advertised on our website.

Applying for a pre-registration placement at an independent

Unlike a placement with a multiple, independents work slightly differently. Independent practices advertise through a variety of outlets, university department notice boards, optical journals and online listings.

To improve your chances of securing an independent placement, take the initiative and inquire about shadowing the optometrist or spending some time in the practice, to get a feel for the environment. This will show you're keen to learn about how that practice operates as well as giving you the edge when it comes to a potential interview with the director.

You may be interested to see the pre-registration optometrist vacancies currently advertised on our website.

Hospital optometrists pre-registration process

Principal optometrists from local hospitals will usually begin delivering talks and presentations in November in order to explain the application process.

Hospitals variously make use of regional NHS websites or the JCL Consulting platform. If the hospital uses the JCL Consulting platform, you will be required to sign up and create an account. However, many hospitals continue to use the traditional NHS website route, where job adverts tend to appear at random times.

Creating a Google keyword alert, eg “pre-registration optometrist”, to be delivered to your email is a great way to get a notification as soon as a new job is advertised online. Note that deadlines will vary depending on the hospital.

Pre-registration listings for hospital optometrists can be found on the following websites:

top tips for pre-registration placement success

Research the company or hospital

It's vital that you understand the history of the company so you can clearly put forward your reasons for your applying to them. This will not only help you while writing your cover letter but also during the interview process, as you’ve shown an interest and educated yourself about the organisation.

Carefully read the job description

By sending several applications for the same job, you can easily over-look the job descriptions and/or person specifications. It is important particularly with hospital applications that you take note of the essential and desired criteria for a hospital pre-registration optometrist, as these will be slightly different to those of a multiple or high street practice.

Tailor your application

Don't merely list your experiences, but also try to demonstrate succinctly how you might apply them. To do this, draw upon the skills you’ve gained from your various experiences and how they fit with the companies values to persuade the employer why they should choose you.

Use a cover letter

A cover letter is your opportunity to give the employer a taste of what your application might include. Clearly state the reasons you're applying for a pre-registration placement and why that particular company/store. Your skills and enthusiasm should shine through, giving the employer no reason not to call you for an interview.

Triple check

This is a crucial part to ensure your application is accurate and relevant. Firstly, check it yourself, before sending it to a friend for a fresh pair of eyes to look at. Furthermore, ask the careers department at your university to do a final check as they’ll have a lot of experience reading through applications.

Good luck and enjoy the next step towards becoming a fully qualified optometrist.