Creating a document which highlights your top vocational qualities, focuses on reasons why you are perfect for the job in question and thrusts you head and shoulders above the competition can be a daunting task – especially if you are faced with a blank piece of paper. At least an application form offers a clear template helping and guiding the applicant write about those factors the employer specifically wishes to know about and compartmentalises the facts which need to be included.
Application forms tend to ask the same old traditional questions which in turn can lead to applicants copying answers from previous unsuccessful forms. To a certain extent there is little harm in this, questions that ask for qualifications, dates of previous jobs etc can be laborious to transcribe again and again. But all application forms should be customised to the vacancy you are going for. And the most important part of that form is the supporting statement.
Understand the needs of the prospective employer
With so many candidates chasing after one job it is highly likely the employer’s desk is going to be swamped with application forms that on the surface all look the same. Due to the fact that the interviewing process is so costly and industry is burdened with heavy deadlines, there is a real need to sieve out the no-hopers and target those for interview. It is therefore likely that the first place the prospective employer will visit is the supporting statement to get a feel for your overall skills and experience and also an idea of your attitude, commitment and approach. This could make or break your application and could quickly determine whether your application form hits the trash bin or the shortlist.
The supporting statement is more than just an irritating add-on
Rather than seeing the supporting statement as a frustrating and time-consuming add-on to the application form, a job seeker should see it as the key to the whole employment process. You need to ensure your supporting statement summarises your most outstanding qualities experiences, skills and qualifications and matches the requirements of the vacant role. So let’s look in more depth at those factors which make a good supporting statement absolute dynamite.
What should a supporting statement include?
Most importantly your passion and enthusiasm for the job role you are going for. This alone, regardless of your skills and experiences could place you head and shoulders above the competition. A prospective employer wants to know the applicant who takes the job will be committed not only to the tasks in hand but to the company as well. Where there is passion there is usually innate skills even if those skills have not come to fruition yet.
State clearly why you want the job
Passion and enthusiasm should come over in the way you write, but you also need to clearly state what attracts you to the job. Also, as much as you have desire for the job you need to show why you are the only unique candidate. Show how much you know about the industry (i.e. current news) and their business (do some research online if you do not already know). Is there a reason why you would be committed to working for them?
Match your qualities with the job specification
Use the job specification and person specification to customise the supporting statement. Go through each point one by one and make notes as to how your qualities meet these factors (either by skills, qualifications, or experiences). Once you have all those elements, create a statement which embodies all of those points.
Evidence what you say
Ensure that you can back up what you are saying. No doubt within the application form itself you have referred to qualifications and specific job roles where you gained essential experiences, but for soft skills (i.e. leadership, teamwork, sales achievements etc), don’t forget to include short anecdotes, case studies or positive experiences which evidence the facts.
Tailor the fundamentals
It’s ok to use former supporting statements for all those fundamentals elements that all jobs need. Just don’t be lazy and copy and paste everything. Always, always, customise to the needs of the current application.
Be succinct and streamline
Your prospective employer is going to be working fast and so wants to be able to see that you could be the one to run with – fast. So, do not write reams and reams, keep it short, simple and succinct. Don’t hide the facts behind verbose descriptions or jargon: clearly state facts.
Turn negatives into positives
It’s unlikely you will meet all the job criteria on the supporting statement so for those elements you cannot evidence show your willingness to train, or even put forward methods in which you can learn. Show you can pick up new skills quickly and turn any positive into a negative.
Finally check and double check what you have written. Always make sure you proof read and edit before signing off. A grammatically poor supporting statement can have the same effect as walking through the door at interview in torn jeans. This is the first contact – don’t make it the last.
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