The right personal statement paints a picture of what you’re like as a nurse, as well as convincing a potential employer that you have the right skills and experience for the job. More than just ticking the requirements in the job description, you need to convey your passion for nursing and what makes you right for the role. Make sure your application stands out with our tips for personal statement writing.
Why do you want the job?
An employer wants to know that you are enthusiastic about the role, and not just applying for any job. Use the opening of your supporting statement to convey why this particular position and employer appeals to you – and any personal reasons you have for applying.
‘Talk about the particular clinical area, hospital or trust, and why it appeals to you. If you have been on placement there, mention this and say what you gained from the experience,’ advises Cathy Taylor, RCN Careers Advisor.
‘You can also use this opening paragraph to mention any experiences that have inspired you in your studies/clinical experience or personal life,’ adds Cathy.
‘”Wanting to make a difference” is noble but it’s important to show that you have a realistic expectation of what the role involves. If you have limited experience, it’s vital to demonstrate that you’re aware of the challenges you may face in the role, and more importantly, that you will be able to deal with those challenges.’
Qualifications and experience
Under this heading, give a brief overview of your qualifications and experience. You might reveal how a course inspired you to follow a particular direction, or mention an essay if it’s relevant to the role. There’s no need to repeat details of qualifications that are contained elsewhere in your application.
‘An employer will know that you have completed a range of placements during your three-year training course – it’s helpful to be specific about the main placement areas covered, to give a flavour of the range of your experience and also the types of issues you have dealt with,’ says Cathy.
Skills and knowledge
You only have a few hundred words to tick off each of an employer’s requirements. Analyse the job description and for each of the main requirements give a short, concrete example as evidence.
Keep each paragraph focused on a particular area, making it easy for the hiring manager to match what you are saying to the requirements of the job. Use experiences from your nursing placements, part-time work, previous roles and voluntary experiences as evidence to back up what you say.
For example, to demonstrate communication skills, you might say: “during my placement on a surgical ward I planned a group of patients’ pre-operative care, ensuring they understood the procedure and were prepared for theatre. When a relative became angry about his father’s missed operation, I listened to and empathised with his concerns and arranged for him to discuss his father’s care with a senior nurse in charge, who later praised my handling of the situation”.
If the role demands good time management skills, give an example of when you successfully prioritised a busy workload. For example: “In my last post, I regularly managed the care of seven patients and the work of two health care assistants. On a particularly busy shift I dealt with three emergency admissions, arranged three discharges and initiated life support for a patient suffering cardiac arrest. The experience taught me how to delegate and communicate effectively, as well as the importance of team work.”
‘Using examples not only brings your statement to life, but paints a picture of you in a clinical setting. Don’t just talk about times when things went well. Consider when things didn’t go to plan but you made a significant leap in learning. Your attitude and how you respond to challenging situations demonstrates your ability to learn from your mistakes and your skills in reflective practice,’ adds Cathy.
Don’t forget to include transferable skills from previous jobs. If you worked as a personal assistant you may have gained good organisational and IT skills. In a customer service role you will have developed good communication skills. Many skills are directly transferable to the role of a nurse, so don’t miss the opportunity to spell out what you have to offer that other candidates don’t.
Finally, adding a ‘Personal Qualities’ section at the end of your statement is a chance to underline the three or four key attributes you want to get across to a potential employer.
For example, you might write: “I believe that I am an approachable, flexible and sympathetic nurse who tries to be cheerful and positive at all times. I am good at relating to people from all walks of life and backgrounds and strictly adhere to all policies, including health and safety, infection control and confidentiality.”
Check and check again
Proof read your statement and have a friend check it over for you. Poor spelling and grammar will make a bad impression, so take the time to get it right.
Image Copyright: Pressmaster, Photodune.com