Supporting myself with a statement

Here we go again. “Please tell us how your skills and experience meet the criteria in the person specification. Be specific, and give concrete examples of what you have personally done. Do not write more than 3 pages of A4 in total.” Sounds entirely fair enough, doesn’t it? Except when you realise that there are 35 points in the person specification. A little basic arithmetic is called for. Three pages of A4 at a reasonable font size is about 1,700 words. So divide 1,700 by 35. That’s about 48 words. From the beginning of this post to this point is, well, 101 words. So I’m supposed to have addressed two person specification points, being specific and including examples of course, already.

That’s OK when the point in question is, say, “Must have a degree-level qualification”, but a bit more tricky when it’s, “Knowledge and understanding of effective business improvement and performance management systems”. In 48 words? OK, so 48 is an average, but in no case would I have the luxury of the 173 words I’ve got through so far in this post.

And concision is not the only challenge to the writer of a convincing supporting statement. Understanding what on earth is meant is frequently harder than trying to write an answer. How about, “Knowledge of integrating equalities issues into services and achieving agreed targets and providing leadership in this area.” No? Well try, “To review and process re-engineer the above corporate services so that they fully support the Target Operating Model.” This Target Operating Model (why capitalised?) is nowhere explained in the reams of accompanying bilge one has to wade through. But just in case you are much cleverer than me, knowing all about the Target Operating Model, and with fluent facility integrating equalities into services whilst you sleep, try this one. “Is: resilient, tough, fixer, broker, influencer, plotter, scanner.” And most beautifully ironic of all one person specification, having called for “excellence in written communication”, went on to demand I show how I might be “engaging with and understanding the business, communicating information and advice which the Council and it’s partners needs in away that is accessible to everyone.” Lynne Truss, weep now. 366 words, by the way.


8 thoughts on “Supporting myself with a statement

  1. I am ashamed to say that I copy and pasted a supporting statement from a previous application to a new job application for similar role without referring to person spec because I was just soooo fed up with doing them. not expecting to hear back on that one then! Lets not mention how long it takes to complete the job history!

  2. I get exhausted just reading about it. Reminds me the UK is good at conducting surveys and commissioning management studies; rather less good at implementing ideas. Good luck with it all! If anybody can crack the code, I suspect it’s you!

  3. Ha. God, it is all such an enormous pile of unremitting drivel. Sense of humour retention is the most important thing. Besides, the law of averages says one day you’ll hit upon the perfect combination of buzzwords and win the game. Best of luck with it!

  4. I have now been on the Beach for 6 months and can echo your sentiments entirely about Person Specifications and Transferability of Skills.

    As an archaeologist I had the belief that I was a Jack of All Trades and would quickly find a post as an administrator or driver or some such quickly. Now I palpably feel like a Jack-of-all -Trades yet a master of none. Not qualified enough yet overqualified at the same time. No matter how one tries to tweak a supporting statement, Human Resourcers seem only to see someone who lacks a specific qualification, which did not exist when I left school, or someone who will leave at the earliest opportunity (Tho’ To be fair this last is probably true).

    Though the circumstances are unfortunate and I hope soon to be remedied it is good to have strangers who are kind in one’s most desperate moments and a reminder that it is not specifically US who have failed.

    I wish you the best of luck for your Manchester venture.

    • Thanks, Alan. Yes, that “over qualified, not qualified enough” conundrum is frustrating to put it mildly. For me it’s a case of not actually having done anything for the last 6 years, but merely overseen others doing it!

      Many thanks for your good wishes for Manchester. All my extremities are crossed!

  5. Ah yes, the `overqualified’ piffle. That generally means that they think you’ll want too much money. Arguing that you’ll work for peanuts to get back into it doesn’t wash because then they suspect you’ll ‘get bored and move on’. If I had a freelance project for every time I’ve heard these lines, my freelance copywriting business would be flatstick!

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