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)


  1. Thank you, I found this very useful.

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  3. Thanks! very helpful

  4. Thank you so much this has been a great help.

  5. really helpful, thanks!

  6. Thank you for share this informative post.

  7. Thank you, this have been really helpful! Especially, I agree with this part, "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'm working on my personal statement (here is helpful resource with a lot of tips: Occupational Therapy Personal Statement) and think it is important to talk about your weaknesses but not to focus too much on them.

  8. This is awesome! Thank you!

  9. Good that you split everything paragraph by paragraph. However, I didn't see any tips concerning ot personal statements. I think it can come in handy when writing. Without any help it is almost impossible to write a personal statemnt, so I'll be glad to read a guide from you. Thanks!