An application form is usually the first opportunity that you have to impress your potential employer. Get this right and you will have another chance to continue impressing them. But if you do anything less than an excellent job, it might very well be a dead end.
Most online application forms contain variations around the following elements:
- Personal Information
- Employment History
- Supporting Information
- Submit and Declarations
I would now like you to go back to number 5. I have taken this from the application form on the NHS job website. Judging by the wording used here, it might sound to some like number 5 is optional and unimportant. Nothing further from the truth, this is the most important part of the form as this is your chance to make a strong case about your suitability for the job. If you are able to provide clear examples of how you have previously demonstrated the skills required for the job, then you are likely to be invited to the next stage of the recruitment process.
How to complete the supporting information / personal statement
Start with a brief introduction and a statement that expresses why you are applying. What is it about job, company, etc. that you are excited about? Tailor this well. Standard statements that could apply to any employer are not enough. Be specific and ensure that you use positive words that convey your passion.
Then, give evidence of your suitability for the job. Take the list of criteria laid out in the person specification and provide an example of how you have demonstrated that skill or competency before. Don’t forget that skills are transferable and you could have developed your skill in an area that is not directly relevant. For example, an experience in retail could have given you the opportunity to demonstrate the ability to deal with challenging behaviour, which is often needed as a nurse, for example. Work down the list of criteria, in the same order as they are laid out and using each requirement as a heading. When writing your examples, make sure to follow the STAR technique.
- Target the opportunity. While most of your applications will be alike since they have similar requirements, it is important to consider making changes to match the specific vacancy and appeal to the specific employer.
- Be concise. There is often a word limit that you must comply with, plus your message will be more effective if you can say it in fewer words.
- Ensure that your grammar, spelling and style are error-free. Don’t just rely on spellchecks, as these won’t pick up on homophonic errors or typos that are actual words.
- Being organised is key. Sometimes, vacancies might be taken down early if they have generated a high number of good standard applications.
- The single most effective action that you can take in order to ensure that your application is up to standards is to get it checked by one of the Careers Consultants. You can save the form online before you submit it, print it off and bring it along to a one-to-one appointment.
Now, going back to the NHS form example, when I speak to student nurses, radiographers, midwives, speech and language therapists, etc. they are usually worried about the word limit on supporting information section of the application form. Their concern is justified, as the limit of 1,500 words is quite constraining. Addressing of all the requirements in 1,500 words is a challenge. This word limit means that you will have to choose the best examples and consider the value of every word. On occasions, you might need to find an example that covers more than one criterion at the same time, in order to keep within the word limit. If you do this, ensure that your headings clearly indicate this (for example, communication and interpersonal skills) and provide the best example that addresses both.
Speech and Language Therapy Personal Statement
I first became interested in Speech and Language Therapy as a career opportunity through my mother’s franchise of Tumble Tots in West Sussex, where many parents in the area were having trouble finding a speech therapist for their child. Having spent my whole life surrounded by younger children I know communication is a vital skill. I therefore felt that for these children and their families not to have access to an important service was wrong. I want to be able to help people who have difficulty with basic communication skills. I’ve gained valuable experience by attending talks by speech and language therapists and psychologists about the importance of Speech Therapy, what a career in Speech and Language Therapy is like and the mental health spectrum. I have also read relevant articles and watched videos by I CAN. These resources offered me the opportunity to fully understand what a career in Speech Therapy would be like and have increased my determination to achieve it.
Since the beginning of July 2008 I have been volunteering at the Grace Eyre Foundation, Brighton, a day centre for adults with learning difficulties. I also take part in their ‘Travel Buddy Scheme’ assisting a disabled lady to use public transport to get home so that she can have increased independence. Volunteering at Grace Eyre has shown me how Speech Therapy can improve someone’s life greatly by giving them the opportunity to express themselves. At Grace Eyre I have been taking basic Makaton lessons which I have found a fantastic tool when trying to communicate with some of the people there.
In July 2008 I volunteered for a week at the Care Co-ops Community Farm, East Sussex, which is maintained by adults with disabilities, both mental and physical. Whilst there I experienced how rewarding it is to help people with disabilities through having fun and being creative and this deepened my resolve to become a speech therapist. I have also worked with both able and disabled children; in June 2006 I did a week’s work experience at Cumann Iosaef Community Pre-school, it allowed me to see the interaction between able and disabled children. I also helped to run a weekly sports club at Davigdor Infants School for 4 months in 2006 as part of my sports leaders qualification.
On the 1st and 2nd of October 2008 I shadowed Speech Therapist Yamini Burgul at the Evelina Children’s Hospital which was fascinating, I got so much out of my two days there and although some of the cases I saw were tragic the difference that Yamini was making to the children’s lives was so apparent that it strengthened my relsolve go into this career. I have also organised to shadow Speech Therapist Alison Eccles at Chailey Secondary School in January 2009.
My A level choices give me a good understanding of different aspects of Speech and Language Therapy. In Human Biology I’m learning about the structure of the body and what can go wrong to cause speech or swallowing difficulties. Psychology lets me explore cognitive development further than I did in GCSE Child Development. I did a long term study of the normal development of a child, looking at their physical, cognitive, emotional and social development and I achieved 102/105 marks for my study. Performing Arts is a subject that requires me to put in a lot of work and challenges me to be creative and outgoing. When working with children in Speech Therapy my experience from this subject will help lots.
When I first considered Speech and Language Therapy I was sure I would want to work with children, however, my work at Care Co-ops and Grace Eyre have shown me the importance of speech in adulthood and now feel that I could work in either field. My time at the Evelina Children’s Hospital showed me how important Speech Therapy is and I know that it is the only career path I want to take.
Universities Applied to:
- UEA - Rejected after Interview
- Reading - 320 points (Firm)
- Sheffield - Rejected after Interview
- Manchester - Rejected after Interview
- Leeds - 300 points (Insurance)
This is a good basis for a PS but it needs a lot of improvement. The applicant clearly has a lot of relevant experience; however it needs to be related more specifically and overtly to their interest in SaLT. If necessary, not all of it needs mentioning: quality over quantity. This would mean that the applicant could reflect on their experience far more, talking about what they learned about the client base and the job of a SaLT. The applicant should also talk about any personal qualities or skills that they possess which should be desirable in a SaLT/SaLT student. It is also important to note that the applicant doesn’t really show awareness for the fact that disability and speech and language problems are not always connected. The applicant also needs to be careful of overcapitalising, and thinking of where parts could be written more concisely/removed.
Comments on the statement:
I first became interested in speech and language therapy as a career opportunity through my mother’s franchise of Tumble Tots in West Sussex, where many parents in the area were having trouble finding a speech therapist for their child. This doesn’t explain WHY it is interesting. It’s also not important to mention where the mother works. Having spent my whole life surrounded by younger children I know communication is a vital skill. The applicant needs to show awareness that not all communication is verbal. E.g. Makaton. I therefore felt that for these children and their families not to have access to an important service was wrong. This needs expanding on: why did this trigger the applicant’s interest in SLT? Feeling it is wrong doesn’t mean that someone wants to study something. I starting sentences in a row with ‘I’ mean that they don’t flow well together want to be able to help people who have difficulty with basic spoken linguistic skills. Why? Why is it appealing? I have contractions should not be used in a formal document such as this gained valuable experience by attending talks by speech and language therapists and psychologists about the importance of speech therapy, This needs expanding on about how this motivated the applicant to study it what a career in speech and language therapy is like and the mental health spectrum. Not everyone requiring SLT has mental health issues, so it’s unwise to mention this. I have also read relevant articles and watched videos by I CAN. This needs expanding on (best to do it in a later paragraph) about how this enhanced the applicant’s interest in SaLT. These resources offered me the opportunity to fully understand what a career in speech therapy would be like and have increased my determination to achieve it. This is the sort of thing that needs to be shown through describing and reflecting on work experience.
This paragraph tries to fit far too much into it, meaning that things are just listed and not expanded on. At the moment, it’s unclear why the applicant is wanting to study SaLT, apart from to give families a chance to access it (which isn’t something that they will be actively involved in, as children need to be referred by schools/GPs/EPs/parents/etc.). Also, the work could well involve older people (e.g. those recovering from strokes).
Since the beginning of July 2008 I have been volunteering at the Grace Eyre Foundation, Brighton, the location is irrelevant a day centre for adults with learning difficulties. I also take part in their ‘travelbuddy scheme’ assisting a disabled lady to use public transport to get home so that she can have increased independence. The applicant needs to relate this to SaLT if they can, such as skills gained that will be useful. Volunteering at Grace Eyre has shown me how speech therapy can improve someone’s life greatly by giving them the opportunity to for expression . How has it? So far, there is no evidence to prove this point. At Grace Eyre I have been taking Makaton lessons, which I have found a fantastic tool too informal when communicating with some of the people there. This paragraph could be revised to be more concise, although information directly relevant to SLT should remain, such as the Makaton lessons.
In July 2008 I volunteered for a week at the Care Co-ops Community Farm, East Sussex, again, location is irrelevant which is maintained by adults with disabilities, both mental the use of the term ‘mental disability’ is unwise and physical. Whilst there I experienced how rewarding it is to help people through having fun and being creative and this deepened my resolve to become a speech therapist. People needing SaLT do not always have a disability or associate themselves as having one... This needs to be related more specifically to the SaLT, e.g. by answering questions such as: how did working with people make the applicant want to be one? What speech difficulties were the people you were working with have? How were they being helped to overcome them or better dealing with them through therapy? I have also worked with both children at a pre school allowed me to see the interaction between able and disabled Again, the relation to SaLT needs to be more explicit: what exact disabilities did the children have? How would the interaction between a child with say, a physical impediment and one who didn't relate to ST? children. I also helped to run a weekly sports club at Davigdor Infants School again, location is irrelevant for four numbers should generally be written out in full months in 2006 as part of my sports leaders qualification. Unless the applicant experienced anything related to SLT in school it doesn't need to be there.
On the 1st and 2nd of October 2008 the specific dates are unimportant I have shadowed a speech therapist no need to name them the difference that she/he was making to the children’s lives was so apparent that it strengthened my resolve go into this career. Why? What differences was she making? How? Why does this appeal to the applicant? I have also organised to shadow another speech therapist in January . It’s not necessary to discuss something they haven’t done, as it doesn’t really add anything. If interviews are after this, it can be mentioned then no problem. Quality of the experience is better than quantity.
My A level choices give me a good understanding of different aspects of speech and language therapy. An introduction sentence like this wastes space. In Human Biology I am learning about the structure of the body and what can go wrong to cause speech or swallowing difficulties. The applicant needs to discuss their interests – after all, everyone doing this will learn this, but the vast majority of those people will not go on to study SaLT. Doesn’t really add anything I did a long term study of the normal development of a child, looking at their physical, cognitive, emotional and social development the applicant should discuss what this taught them about language and why it was interesting The PS is not a good place to discuss module/coursework marks. Performing Arts is a subject that requires me to put in a lot of work and challenges me to be creative and outgoing. When working with children in Speech Therapy my experience from this subject will help a lot. Once again, this needs expanding on. Why do SaLTs need this? What other skills do they need, and why? This is the sort of thing to discuss in the work experience section.
It’s not necessary to try and link every subject to their chosen subject. Only do it if it is especially relevant.
When I first considered speech and language therapy I was sure I would want to work with children, however, my volunteering saves space has shown me the importance of speech in adulthood and I would enjoy working with both. It would be best to avoid mentioning that the applicant thought they only wanted to work with children. Although you may go on to specialise later, you may not get a choice of who you help. It would be better to say that you are interested in speech difficulties in both adults and children, and maybe compare and contrast them. This showed me how important speech therapy is and I know that it is the only career path I want to take. This needs to be more specific: why? Why does the applicant think it is so important? What challenges is the applicant looking forward to facing? What makes them a good candidate for the course?
Article by TSR User on Thursday 15 February 2018