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 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DW1lxwsK5_Q)

·        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)