Supporting statements

Supporting statements

How do I write a Supporting Statement?

Sometimes instead of asking for a cover letter, an application form may contain a supporting statement section where you are required to outline the skills, experience, and qualities you possess that make you a suitable candidate for the role. This is an important section of your application and can make or break your chances of getting through to the next stage of the recruitment process.

Structuring your supporting statement

Make a positive introduction to yourself in a short opening paragraph. It is then best to follow the person specification for the role and use the STAR technique to give a detailed account of your experience of that skill. If you've not encountered the STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result) technique before, watch The Guardian's explanatory video to show you how it's done.  It can be useful to create headings for each point on the person specification too, as this will allow the person who is shortlisting your application to easily find each point that you are addressing.

Just like a lawyer in a courtroom, you always need to provide evidence to support your claims. The more your examples for each heading are specific (i.e. no one could give this example except you because the details are so specific), the better the mental picture you will give to the employer. If they can picture you in the role you are describing, they will be able to picture you in the advertised role.

It is useful to conclude your supporting statement with a short positive summary.

What are the top tips for writing supporting statements?

  • Carefully read through the job and person specification information.
  • Ensure that you give evidence for each item the employer has outlined.
  • Before you write your statement in full, spend some time selecting the most appropriate examples to illustrate the skills and qualities required. The first example that you think of isn't necessarily the best one.
  • Using the STAR method can help you to structure your examples in a meaningful way.
  • Write your statement in a separate document (e.g. Microsoft Word) first before entering it into the online application form. This will make it easier to read through and check.
  • Don't assume that an employer will guess or automatically realise that you have a skill. If you don't make reference to an essential item, the employer can't count it as part of your application and you may not get shortlisted for an interview.
  • Check the word count or space allocation for the supporting statement. You want to be concise and to the point without writing pages of words. If there’s no guidance aim for around 500 words. Find out more about how long a supporting statement should be.

How can I learn more?