Seeking Guidance on Supporting Statement

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Christine4093
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Seeking Guidance on Supporting Statement

Post by Christine4093 » Sat May 25, 2019 7:31 pm

I am currently applying to AP posts both NHS and private. I am aware that I am at the early stages and compared to some on this forum I have completed comparatively few applications. I have also limited my potential job pool due to location.

I am however struggling on how to phrase my supporting statements, wondering about word counts, and starting to feel deflated.

I really want this – but I don’t know how to make it show.

I also have very limited 'actual psychology experience' and though I think I am showing the skills and attributes listed on the person spec - I am quite obviously not.

I have read and re-read many of the forum posts and found them useful but I am struggling as to how to apply them to my own statement. I have ended up with over 20+ versions of this statement and I feel I am getting overwhelmed. I need some guidance.

I am wondering if CPs or APs would consider looking over one of my (many versions of) statements. I know it is a big ask!

Thank you!

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miriam
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Re: Seeking Guidance on Supporting Statement

Post by miriam » Sun May 26, 2019 12:34 am

I don't mind giving it a look.

But if you have "very limited 'actual psychology experience'" then you should probably be applying for support work, care assistant, residential care, classroom support and other first-rung-of-the-ladder posts rather than AP posts. It seems very likely that no matter how many variants of your statement you write, this is the main barrier, not how you word things. These posts are exceptionally competitive, and you will need other substantive experience to stand a chance of securing one.

For example, I wouldn't shortlist anyone without a year* or more of experience relevant to that particular post - so that means you'd need some experience of either the role or client group that I'm working with, rather than just any first-step experience. For example in my last AP advert for a research role with LAC, I shortlisted only people who had research experience beyond their undergrad project, and some experience working with troubled adolescents or survivors of abuse and neglect.

But for the record you don't need loads of variants. You need to assemble a single document with the key points that are asked for in every job, and then some additional bits to cut and paste in according to the specific requirements of each post. Every single application needs a specifically tailored application, showing you meet every point on their person specification.

*this means whole time equivalent, not 3 hours a week for a year (which would add up to about 3.5 weeks of experience) and I'd normally prioritise experience that is paid
Miriam

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Christine4093
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Re: Seeking Guidance on Supporting Statement

Post by Christine4093 » Sun May 26, 2019 6:46 am

Dear Miriam

Thank you. I will PM you if that’s ok.

I have some of the experience you mention in first-rung-of-the-ladder posts but I am perhaps not phrasing this experience well. Or indeed I perhaps need more specific experience. It is good to hear your thoughts.

The advice on having a single “main” statement is also valuable. I have perhaps dedicated too much time creating variations that strengthening my current statement.

I look forward to your thoughts! Thank you.

HansKolpinghuis
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Re: Seeking Guidance on Supporting Statement

Post by HansKolpinghuis » Sun May 26, 2019 12:19 pm

I am in the same position! Check viewtopic.php?f=8&t=21559 which is a topic that I started with my cover letter and I was given some amazing tips. My current statement looks NOTHING like it because I kept learning and learning about what was wrong. I haven't mastered it yet, at all, but every day I am more satisfied with my letter.

It's very frustrating because I have the experience, and I have the education. I apply for positions where I feel I am the right fit and still I'm not getting invited to interviews. Then I realised that I was not selling myself good at all. I just kind of thought that stating that I have a MSc would take me straight to the post. Very silly of me. So the top tips I learnt (and I'm still learning) during my journey are:

1. Be precise and specific. I used to say "co-therapist in group therapy", while now I go with "co-facilitating group-analysis psychotherapy groups for adults with a diagnosis of psychosis, covering topics such as relationships, life-skills and grieving". That sounds more professional and selling, doesn't it?
2. I am no longer afraid of skipping some of my experience if it's not related. I have worked with OCD, psychosis, ASD, CAMHs, general population (psycho-educating) and mild depression and anxiety. I might not want to mention all of them if I am applying for a psychosis unit. It does say that I've done it in my working experience, maybe they don't want to re-read it in my supporting statement. It's cool that I learned how to do Intensive Interaction with ASD, and I'm very proud of it but it's not super useful if I am working with adults with a diagnosis of psychosis. It relates to the "be specific" point.
3. Quick and snappy. Someone said in this forum that AT MAX they will dedicate 2 minutes to your application. Since then I cut out all the irrelevant info as it would not be read at all or it would make my statement too long and tedious.
4. Don't say, show. A friend of mine that read my letter said, "why do you have to mention that you are a creative person? I wouldn't want to read that, I would like you to SHOW me. I want to get the idea that you are a creative person". And I think he's right. You can give them the idea of being a creative person by saying that you were able to apply alternative communication methods for those with communication impairments. And it shows. And it saves characters.

As said I still haven't got an AP position. Those here are my guesses and the most useful tips I've been collecting from everyone I've been bothering (that'd be my #5: ask everyone, bother everyone. Everyone related with MH has read my letter at this point. I kept sending it to friends, coworkers, a mental health nurse, a physician assistant, my boyfriend...). I hope that some day we both can work out what works for us and how we can write something that is as appealing as we know we are. Sigh.

Good luck.

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Re: Seeking Guidance on Supporting Statement

Post by miriam » Sun May 26, 2019 11:34 pm

For both of you, the most important thing is that every single application needs to be tailored to the specific job you are applying for. Nobody can read an application and give feedback on it without also reading the job advert and person spec of the role you are applying for. That's why I can't understand making loads of variants of an application. Surely you need the bones of your answer pre-formed, but need to add the details and examples to fit the actual post you are applying for.

I wrote a blog post recently called how not to apply for a job in psychology that might be worth a read.
Miriam

See my blog at http://clinpsyeye.wordpress.com

Northernlad
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Re: Seeking Guidance on Supporting Statement

Post by Northernlad » Mon May 27, 2019 4:17 am

Christine, I had lots of variants of an application but tailored to specific client groups e.g. one for child, AMH, older adult, forensic etc etc. This really worked for me and meant that I could fire applications in quickly as I only needed to make a few minor tweaks (if any) to suit the job I was applying to. My tailored applications would already include some nice examples of my work this client group. I did pretty well at getting AP interviews and it saved the heart-ache of jobs closing before I go there in time!

NL

HansKolpinghuis
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Re: Seeking Guidance on Supporting Statement

Post by HansKolpinghuis » Mon May 27, 2019 8:54 am

miriam wrote:
Sun May 26, 2019 11:34 pm
For both of you, the most important thing is that every single application needs to be tailored to the specific job you are applying for. Nobody can read an application and give feedback on it without also reading the job advert and person spec of the role you are applying for. That's why I can't understand making loads of variants of an application. Surely you need the bones of your answer pre-formed, but need to add the details and examples to fit the actual post you are applying for.

I wrote a blog post recently called how not to apply for a job in psychology that might be worth a read.
I usually write all my applications from scratch every time I apply for a job, using the person specification as a checklist. It does NOT guarantee even being shortlisted for an interview.

Christine4093
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Re: Seeking Guidance on Supporting Statement

Post by Christine4093 » Mon May 27, 2019 3:36 pm

HansKolpinghuis wrote:
Sun May 26, 2019 12:19 pm
I am in the same position! Check viewtopic.php?f=8&t=21559 which is a topic that I started with my cover letter and I was given some amazing tips. My current statement looks NOTHING like it because I kept learning and learning about what was wrong. I haven't mastered it yet, at all, but every day I am more satisfied with my letter.

It's very frustrating because I have the experience, and I have the education. I apply for positions where I feel I am the right fit and still I'm not getting invited to interviews. Then I realised that I was not selling myself good at all. I just kind of thought that stating that I have a MSc would take me straight to the post. Very silly of me. So the top tips I learnt (and I'm still learning) during my journey are:

1. Be precise and specific. I used to say "co-therapist in group therapy", while now I go with "co-facilitating group-analysis psychotherapy groups for adults with a diagnosis of psychosis, covering topics such as relationships, life-skills and grieving". That sounds more professional and selling, doesn't it?
2. I am no longer afraid of skipping some of my experience if it's not related. I have worked with OCD, psychosis, ASD, CAMHs, general population (psycho-educating) and mild depression and anxiety. I might not want to mention all of them if I am applying for a psychosis unit. It does say that I've done it in my working experience, maybe they don't want to re-read it in my supporting statement. It's cool that I learned how to do Intensive Interaction with ASD, and I'm very proud of it but it's not super useful if I am working with adults with a diagnosis of psychosis. It relates to the "be specific" point.
3. Quick and snappy. Someone said in this forum that AT MAX they will dedicate 2 minutes to your application. Since then I cut out all the irrelevant info as it would not be read at all or it would make my statement too long and tedious.
4. Don't say, show. A friend of mine that read my letter said, "why do you have to mention that you are a creative person? I wouldn't want to read that, I would like you to SHOW me. I want to get the idea that you are a creative person". And I think he's right. You can give them the idea of being a creative person by saying that you were able to apply alternative communication methods for those with communication impairments. And it shows. And it saves characters.

As said I still haven't got an AP position. Those here are my guesses and the most useful tips I've been collecting from everyone I've been bothering (that'd be my #5: ask everyone, bother everyone. Everyone related with MH has read my letter at this point. I kept sending it to friends, coworkers, a mental health nurse, a physician assistant, my boyfriend...). I hope that some day we both can work out what works for us and how we can write something that is as appealing as we know we are. Sigh.

Good luck.
Thanks HansKolpinghuis
I have read your thread and found the advice useful. I still feel that it is my ability to adapt these tips that is holding my statement back.
Hopefully we will both be more successful soon! Good Luck!

Christine4093
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Re: Seeking Guidance on Supporting Statement

Post by Christine4093 » Mon May 27, 2019 3:38 pm

Northernlad wrote:
Mon May 27, 2019 4:17 am
Christine, I had lots of variants of an application but tailored to specific client groups e.g. one for child, AMH, older adult, forensic etc etc. This really worked for me and meant that I could fire applications in quickly as I only needed to make a few minor tweaks (if any) to suit the job I was applying to. My tailored applications would already include some nice examples of my work this client group. I did pretty well at getting AP interviews and it saved the heart-ache of jobs closing before I go there in time!

NL
Thank you NL. I think this may be what I should aim to do. I think my variants are not different enough - all just modified a bit here and there. So I will look to making some more specific statements for the areas you mentioned and see if that helps.

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Re: Seeking Guidance on Supporting Statement

Post by miriam » Tue May 28, 2019 2:42 am

miriam wrote:
Sun May 26, 2019 11:34 pm
For both of you, the most important thing is that every single application needs to be tailored to the specific job you are applying for. Nobody can read an application and give feedback on it without also reading the job advert and person spec of the role you are applying for. That's why I can't understand making loads of variants of an application. Surely you need the bones of your answer pre-formed, but need to add the details and examples to fit the actual post you are applying for.

I wrote a blog post recently called how not to apply for a job in psychology that might be worth a read.
It strikes me that people are reading this and saying they are doing it, but not really understanding what I mean. You literally need to tell me how you fulfil each point of the person specification explicitly and preferably in the order they are given, whilst showing enthusiasm for and knowledge about their client group.

Try to imagine you want to employ a cleaner to spring clean your flat as you've noticed a lot of pet hair and smells accumulating. You have half an hour before work, so you figure that gives you ten minutes each to phone up three companies. You ask each "can you tell me how much you cost, when you are available and how long this kind of job typically takes". The first one tells you that they once lived in Liverpool, but now live just down the road from you. They once cleaned a bridge, and they also cleaned the windows of a tower block from a platform suspended on ropes, and they have aspirations of running a cleaning company one day. They tell you a bit about their life story and their dreams for the future. After ten minutes you start doodling and checking your emails, before making excuses to end the call. When you hang up you realise you still have no idea about their prices or how long it will take them or when they are available. So you call the next firm. They sound really enthusiastic about the prospect of your job. The person tells you they think you sound really nice, your address is on a lovely street and they've heard only good things about that area. In fact they'd love to work with you, and it has been a big ambition of theirs to move up from keeping the toilets in the local station clean to doing prestigious work in local houses for professional people. They are happy to work for you at any time, and they are confident they will do the best job ever. Again, you end the call knowing little about them, but their expectations seem a bit skew for a simple cleaning job, and you are left wondering whether their enthusiasm is nice or a bit inappropriate. The third one tells you what they cost, when they are available and how long it will take them. They tell you about similar past work, and explain they bring all their equipment with them and this is included in the price. They ask if you have pets and explain how they deal with pet hair and smells. They end by offering testimonials and references from happy customers.

Each of the three potential cleaners has told you some relevant information. Some of what they have said might be impressive or endearing or entertaining, and you might like or feel sympathetic towards them. But only one has told you the information you asked for, and given you the very precise and practical information you need to be able to make the decision whether they are suitable to employ for the task you want completing. Only one of the three understood that you need specific key information to make your decision, and that providing that information immediately and clearly needs to guide what they tell you. Only one showed you their skills directly apply to your situation. And it is that one that most people would choose to employ.

In this example, so many applications I read feel like the first or second firm in this metaphor, yet 99% of the time firm three is the one that will get shortlisted. That's the best I can do in trying to explain the experience of shortlisting, except that in the situation of AP posts you often have to call 100+ firms and you therefore only have 2-3 minutes per call to pick out the best 5 to invite to interview.
Miriam

See my blog at http://clinpsyeye.wordpress.com

Christine4093
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Re: Seeking Guidance on Supporting Statement

Post by Christine4093 » Tue May 28, 2019 2:18 pm

miriam wrote:
Tue May 28, 2019 2:42 am

It strikes me that people are reading this and saying they are doing it, but not really understanding what I mean. You literally need to tell me how you fulfil each point of the person specification explicitly and preferably in the order they are given, whilst showing enthusiasm for and knowledge about their client group.

Try to imagine you want to employ a cleaner to spring clean your flat as you've noticed a lot of pet hair and smells accumulating. You have half an hour before work, so you figure that gives you ten minutes each to phone up three companies. You ask each "can you tell me how much you cost, when you are available and how long this kind of job typically takes". The first one tells you that they once lived in Liverpool, but now live just down the road from you. They once cleaned a bridge, and they also cleaned the windows of a tower block from a platform suspended on ropes, and they have aspirations of running a cleaning company one day. They tell you a bit about their life story and their dreams for the future. After ten minutes you start doodling and checking your emails, before making excuses to end the call. When you hang up you realise you still have no idea about their prices or how long it will take them or when they are available. So you call the next firm. They sound really enthusiastic about the prospect of your job. The person tells you they think you sound really nice, your address is on a lovely street and they've heard only good things about that area. In fact they'd love to work with you, and it has been a big ambition of theirs to move up from keeping the toilets in the local station clean to doing prestigious work in local houses for professional people. They are happy to work for you at any time, and they are confident they will do the best job ever. Again, you end the call knowing little about them, but their expectations seem a bit skew for a simple cleaning job, and you are left wondering whether their enthusiasm is nice or a bit inappropriate. The third one tells you what they cost, when they are available and how long it will take them. They tell you about similar past work, and explain they bring all their equipment with them and this is included in the price. They ask if you have pets and explain how they deal with pet hair and smells. They end by offering testimonials and references from happy customers.

Each of the three potential cleaners has told you some relevant information. Some of what they have said might be impressive or endearing or entertaining, and you might like or feel sympathetic towards them. But only one has told you the information you asked for, and given you the very precise and practical information you need to be able to make the decision whether they are suitable to employ for the task you want completing. Only one of the three understood that you need specific key information to make your decision, and that providing that information immediately and clearly needs to guide what they tell you. Only one showed you their skills directly apply to your situation. And it is that one that most people would choose to employ.

In this example, so many applications I read feel like the first or second firm in this metaphor, yet 99% of the time firm three is the one that will get shortlisted. That's the best I can do in trying to explain the experience of shortlisting, except that in the situation of AP posts you often have to call 100+ firms and you therefore only have 2-3 minutes per call to pick out the best 5 to invite to interview.

^^^This has been really useful for me and I think I now better understand how applications are shortlisted. TBH I’m not sure what I thought happened before, despite reading various posts, but I now realise how my application would have easily left a shortlister frustrated.

I feel I have the skills but I have not shown them. Looking back on my statement now, I feel (I know) that I have taken all of what I thought were ‘buzz words’ and put them into sentences without actually backing them up. My ‘amazing buzz words’ are not even in the person spec yet I was somehow sure that I was “hitting every point”. It’s rather embarrassing considering even in school we were taught to back up every point with evidence, never mind undergrad and postgrad training! I am now practising getting in this way by rewriting one of my statements with this in mind, using a bit of colour coding so that I can clearly see
(i) the point I’m making, the person spec
(ii) the evidence, what I have done
(iii) discussion of how I applied the skills listed in (i)

I hope that when the next suitable role is advertised I will then be able to use this method to create a strong and easy-to-follow application suited to the role rather than churning out a variation of a generic statement.

I know there will be more to learn as I go through this but this has been a huge (and necessary) learning curve for me!

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Re: Seeking Guidance on Supporting Statement

Post by miriam » Tue May 28, 2019 4:09 pm

Awesome, Christine4093. I'm glad to hear it was helpful.
Miriam

See my blog at http://clinpsyeye.wordpress.com

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