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.