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Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Writing a Supporting Statement

Also in the 
“New OT seeks first job”  trilogy:

Firstly a disclaimer – everything written here is based upon my experience and reflections of applying for jobs as well as my opinions. I did not get an interview for every application I made, only about 20% were successful in getting however I thought I would write up the structure I used for my later applications and some points I found whilst writing the mine.

When writing my first supporting statement I felt extremely frustrated at the lack of help there appeared to be in the form of templates/structures and examples – so after struggling through the first couple I tried to put my own structure together by combining elements from CV covering letter and university personal statement examples. Below is the ‘structure’ I wrote up and some of the points I found helpful to keep in mind whilst writing it.

Firstly and I know this may be obvious but I always re-read the job description (JD) and person specification (PS) making sure to highlight the key points I want to use to show how I could apply my skills.

Also before writing up the statement I tend to look at the trust/hospital’s website to see if they have a mission statement  or vision which I could incorporate into my statement.

Opening Paragraph/Statement

When essays for my A-Levels I was told the introduction and conclusion should answer the question even if you took away the main content, so for my supporting statement I try to make sure both the start and end paragraphs summarise the key points.

·        I try to keep this paragraph short and sweet with the first couple of sentences summarising why I want this job trying to make it sound that my reason will be as much for their gain as my own.
·        My final sentence of this sentence tends to be the same (no matter the job I’m applying for) – with three characteristics I think I have combined with mentioning my enthusiasm for OT.

Second Paragraph - Writing about my experience.

Usually I don’t write about individual placements (I try to avoid using the word placement) but the skills I have developed through them and interlink non-OT specific experience such as previous part time work and helping with  a guide group.

·        I never put the focus on a specific place or environment I have worked (I have only really applied for rotational posts) but rather the skills which I have developed and enhanced through working in these environments.
·        I find sometimes you can think of lots of skills to highlight and which they present within the JD & PS as required, so I try to be selective pulling out those which I can put with examples from my experience (even if its non-OT) as well as those which may make me stand-out.
·        I always have to read this section the most as I am someone who can ramble a bit and take a while in getting to the point (as you may see from reading my posts), so I reread it to ensure I’m not rambling or repeating myself.


Third Paragraph - Limitations

I’d never thought about putting my limitations in until I read in one person specification that the candidate must be aware and recognise their own limits so I like to include a couple of lines to demonstrate this. I do however try to put a positive spin on it by providing a plan how to change these aspects or how in fact they can also be positive.

Fourth Paragraph – Why I want THIS position/job.

This is the paragraph in which I put my reasons for applying for the job and what I would expect to gain from it and maybe even a bit about why I want to work in that specific area – such as in London, because of the diversity of cultures I can work with....

Final Paragraph

Again, I summarised key points to make it clear that I met the criteria and would make a great member of the team.

Extra Points

·        I try to keep it as short as possible – about a page in length
·        I have to have a thesaurus otherwise I tend to use the same words over and over again (had to include this funny friends clip here

·        I have copies of every one I have written so I can look back and take bits which are relevant for the new ones, this has saved a lot of time for me.

So that is it a kind of basic structure I’ve used to write mine – I do not think this is a winning formula (far from it – one of my weakest points is the ability to sell myself) but I do think it’s just a case of finding a style that suits yourself.

Good luck with your application forms, and please if you have a couple of minutes, comment I would love to hear your thoughts and feedback (be it positive or negative I don’t mind)

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Creating a CPD Folder/Portfolio

Also in the “New OT seeks first job”  trilogy:

This week I’ve been doing a bit of reflection on my preparation for a job interview I had recently after speaking to a friend who had asked for a bit of advice over the creation of a CPD folder. Having evidence of CPD (continuing professional development) is a common feature on many person specifications and is an essential element of the HPC standards – which all occupational therapists must conform to in order to practice under this title. To be honest I thought the whole concept of creating one to be fairly simple and that it wouldn’t involve much more work than a bit of collating and organising, however the reality of the task was quite different and proved to be challenging.

I found the task of creating a CPD folder confusing – what information was relevant and how should I organise it, the two questions I faced. I had previously attempted compiling a CPD folder using the guidance from the HPC example activity types however this didn’t work. I found the answer though through the use of the ILOD, produced by the BAOT/COT

The ILOD (interactive learning opportunities database) has within it a career planning section which enables you to search for development opportunities and ideas relevant to your career level and aims, for example I selected and searched:

The search resulted in a list of key elements and their associated post-qualifying framework requirements alongside a list of ideas/opportunities to maintain and develop that element. I found these suggestions incredibly useful as they both gave me ideas as to the types of evidence I needed to put in each section but also put my activities into perspective as to their relevance to my CPD such as this blog.

It only took me about a day to put together and largely because I had to do a bit of writing and printing for it. Basically my CPD portfolio is just a lever arch folder divided into ten sections and below I have provided a few examples of what sorts of information I have put within each section.

1. CPD and Lifelong Learning
 - Personal development plan, a copy of which is available to download through the ILOD 
 - Placement reports 
 - Certificates such as manual handling; basic life support etc. 
 - Lecture notes on preceptorship and the KSF 

2.    Knowledge and Skills
 - Certificates from training attended during placements e.g. sensory impairment study day 
 - Information on the relevant field (to the job) 
 - Reflection on a networking meeting I attended 

3.    Communication
 - Anonymised copies of a couple of reports I had written on placement 

4.    Team-working
 - Appraisal letters – which make comment upon my ability to work within the team 
 - Summary of the various professions involved within the MDT 

5.    Leadership and Management
 - Supervision notes 
 - The Department of Health’s Allied Health Professions Bulletin (sign up on DH site) 

6.    Evidence Based Practice and Research
 - Copy of COT Briefings 23 – definitions and core skills of OT which I have annotated 
 - My summaries of the Model of Human Occupation and Canadian Model of Occupational Performance (due to being evidence-based) 

7.    Critical Thinking
 - A printout of my blog post on ‘Quest for a Professional Identity’ 
 - Written Reflections (unless they are more relevant in another section)

8.    Risk Management and Ethical Practice
 - COT guidelines 
 - I actually haven’t got anything in this section yet! 
9.    Service User Involvement 
 - I actually haven’t got anything in this section either

10.  Educating Others
 - (Relevant) presentation copies in

These are just a examples of what I have in mine and ideas of what you could include – remember everyone will have different CPDs – even new grads qualifying from the same course. What I have in mine may not be completely right but I believe demonstrate my skills as a professional and what I have thus far learned in OT and this is what the evidence is supposed to be proof of.

Despite being a part of the person specification, my portfolio wasn’t actually looked at directly but I was asked if there was anything I was particularly proud of which I would like to share. If you haven’t got one yet it is defiantly worth starting a basic one, which you can add to later - mine isn't that full (about a quarter) which I think is fine because I'm only recently qualified so haven't got vast amount of experience to document from. Even if it is not required of you – I think taking a CPD portfolio to interview looks good as it does show a degree of how serious you are about maintaining your standards as a professional.

Want some interview advice and example questions see this post

*members-only resource