How to write a personal / supporting statement

More and more employers are requesting interested candidates to complete supporting / personal statements demonstrating why they are a good “fit” for the role. These are particularly prevalent in the public sectors where usually the employer will only require a completed application form and supporting statement rather than the traditional CV and cover letter.  We have also recently seen a huge increase in graduate employers taking this route of application, but also requesting a CV. 

Sceptics would say that this is to cut down on the amount of applications an employer will gain as it certainly does take a long period of time and a fair amount of focus to complete these documents successfully. However, to complete a personal statement effectively there are some simple tips and hints that we are happy to share. 

Tips for writing a personal / supporting statement

  1. Ensure that you have an employment history / education / key skills that at least match 80% of the essential skills. If you do not meet these skills then it is easy to conclude that you are likely to not succeed in the application and that you will probably waste both your time and the employer’s time applying.
  2. Read the job specification very carefully and then make notes that evidence the skills they are requesting in action during your career. Make sure that you clearly identify why the particular skill or competency assisted you in your role and ensure that you demonstrate the end results. 
  3. Do not write too much. Usually we would recommend that if a job specification has around 12 key points then your statement needs to be in the region of 800 words (one and a half pages of A4).
  4. If it is easier for you to bullet point the examples under a specific skills title that is demonstrated on the job specification this is adequate. It is not necessarily how CVpal would complete it if writing it professionally, but it certainly allows you to keep the structure of the document. 
  5. Follow the job specification exactly. 
  6. Ensure that the statement has a strong introduction identifying your motivation and interest in the role and has a strong conclusion to really make an impact. 
  7. A supporting statement is not a cover letter and visa-versa. A supporting statement is much more detailed. We have so many clients that contact us to write a cover letter that are actually statements once we see the application / job specification. Ensure you fully understand what is required. 
  8. Check your grammar and spelling, there really is very little excuse these days to have any errors in a document. Just press spell check and note any “green lines” under content. 

Questions clients ask CVpal relating to Supporting Statements

Can I not just attach my CV and ask them to look at that?

Easy answer, NO. We always stress that whoever the employer is and whatever process they ask you to follow in relation to applications you MUST follow it to the letter. 

Is it ok to just use the same statement for multiple applications?

Usually not, very rarely will you find a job specification that exactly matches another. It will be so obvious if you use a “generic” statement. However, it is useful to have a skeleton document that you can adapt to different applications to make the process more efficient.

What are competencies?

Competencies are skills, but again it is important to evidence how the competency has been used. If you can build the situation, identify the issue and then demonstrate the competency in action you will have answered the question perfectly. 

Is it ok if I repeat examples?

Ideally not, however the more statements you write you will notice that the actual job specifications can become repetitive in the detail. Do not just rewrite what you have already written but if you have to do this then change the way it is presented and read.