How to write a personal statement for a NHS assistant psychologist

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A personal statement, sometimes called a profile or career summary, is the section at the top of your CV or a pro-forma job application which summarises your career skills and experience and sets out your ambitions for the future. It is a standard part of any National Health Service (NHS) application. The function of a personal statement is to enable a recruiter to quickly identify whether you are suitable for interview, so it needs to be punchy. If drafted carefully, a personal statement can give your application a dynamic impact.

Get hold of the NHS assistant psychologist (AP) general person specification. This specification is common to all AP jobs across different specialities and sits alongside the job specification which differs between roles. Read the general person specification and spend some time covering off the requirements. That way you will have done a lot of the groundwork before you come to apply for specific roles. Refer to the Guide to Core Competencies published by The British Psychological Society (see Resources) for assistance.

Read the individual job specification carefully. The purpose of your personal statement is to describe how you meet the exact specifications of the job description. Describe how your skills and experience match each requirement.

Decide whether you are writing in the first or third person. There are no hard and fast rules about this and everyone has their own preference. Try writing your statement both ways to see what flows. Do not interchange the two.

Show, don't tell. Explicitly state your experience against each criteria in the job and person specification and then explain what you have learnt from your experience. Saying that you're "adaptable" is forgettable - describing a situation where you filled in a gap in a skill set at short notice is impressive. Phrases like "passionate about" and "interested in" are fluff. Chances are the recruiter will have read them a hundred times before and you don't have room to ramble.

Keep it short. While the NHS does not have a word limit on personal statements, other industries expect a good statement to have impact in just 200 words. NHS job specifications tend to be lengthy, and this requires a lengthier response, but you should still aim to deal with everything in a single page.

Proof read. It goes without saying that your spelling and grammar should be perfect. Your spell check should be in British (rather than US) English.

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