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Guide to Working in Health and Social Care Sectors

Examples of a Strong and Weak Application Form

NHS employers will essentially be looking how good a match are you for the job being advertised, by judging how well your application matches the 'person specification' for the job. The applicants that most closely match the person specification will be those that are shortlisted for interview.  So, to stand the best chance of getting an interview, that is what you need to focus on. How do your skills and experience outlined in your previous work history match the requirements for the post? (from NHS Jobs website)

This might sound easy, but it is a skills in itself to be able to do this well and present yourself in such as way as to secure an interview.  Sometime it can be very difficult knowing how to take an experience that you have had and write it in such as way as to demonstrate a particular skills or quality that is expected of the post holder.  To help with this, a fictitious example has been created to show how you could use the same information, to write 2 very different quality application forms.

The fictional character, "Helen" is applying for a job as a Public Services Support Worker and all the necessary documentation for her to do this is provided below. Helen has a 'Personal History' which explains her background and using this information, a strong and a weak 'Application form' has been completed, based on the 'Job description' and 'Person Specification' provided for the role. This clearly demonstrates how differently the same information can be used to provide very different quality application forms.

In the 'strong' example, you will see that all the 24 points on the 'Essential' criteria list have been covered at some point in the supporting information section. These have been highlighted in the red numbers at the relevant place on the application form. Whereas in the 'weak example', minimal information has been provided and there is little demonstration of what relevant experience Helen has that makes her suitable for this role.

Helen's story and personal history

Helen is a 28 year old mother of 2. Rachel, who is 3 and goes to nursery and Ben who is 8 and goes to the local school 2 miles away. Helen’s husband, Tom, works in Sales for a large company and is away from home quite a lot on business. They do not live very close to either of their families so cannot get them to babysit very easily.

Ben was diagnosed at an early age as having diabetes and has to regularly attend the local clinic for check ups. As a result of this, Helen started volunteering as a play worker at the clinic 1 morning a week to help the other children who have to attend.

Helen used to be a school receptionist before leaving to raise her family. She loved working there and misses the opportunity to use her office skills and interacting with other people in a work environment. She does not have to care for her children full time now and would also like to earn some extra money.

She has helped out with the local Scouts group since Ben joined 2 years ago and goes every Thursday evening. On Mondays she plays Badminton in a social team because she likes to be active. She has also been a member of the school PTA as Finance Officer for the last 3 years.

Helen likes to travel to foreign countries on holiday, eating to local food and seeing different cultures. She also likes going to the theatre although has not done that so much since having Rachel. She feels she is not naturally an organised person but has had to learn to become better organised while Tom is away in order to get everything done.

1. Job Details
Job Title: Public Health Support Worker
Job Reference: 626-PAW10-162ND
Responsible to: Team Leader
Professionally Responsible to: Children's Lead
Grade: Band 2
Unit: North Devon Provider Services
Department: Public Health Nurses Barnstaple
Location: Community
Salary Range: £13,653 - £16,753 per annum pro rata
Working Pattern: 15 hours per week
2. Job Purpose
To provide both clerical support and assist in the health promotion programmes within Children and Family Services.
3. Dimensions
To work within a Public Health Team under the direction of the Team Leader in community settings.
4. Organisational Chart
Children's Lead
Public Health Team Leader
Health Visitor/School Nurses
Public Health Worker
5. Main Tasks/Duties and Areas of Responsibility


  1. Undertake clerical duties to provide a smooth running of the service which includes the preparation required for daily work programmes and weekly appointments. Filing of patient information.
  2. Answer the telephone and communicate professionally with the public and other professionals. Ordering of supplies.
  3. Liaise and communicate with other agencies and organisations.
  4. Support health promotion initiatives by assisting in the preparation of events.
  5. Organise activities and ongoing client contacts.
  6. Assist in the submission of statistics for return at the required time.
  7. Administration of requests for school health/health visitor records.


  1. Assist and support members of the public health team to deliver services to families, groups and individuals within the community.
  2. Work under supervision to assist in child health promotion/screening within a variety of settings, to meet the needs of the service.
  3. Accurately record information in client records in accordance with Devon Primary Care Trust's policies and guidelines.
  4. Accurately record and refer information and concerns to a member of the Public Health team as required.


  1. Participate in development and performance reviews.
  2. Undertake training as necessary.
  3. To assist in the investigation of complaints.
  4. Participate in and attend staff and professional meetings.
  5. Keep an accurate diary, which reflects daily work and mileage.
  6. Attend mandatory training session as required by Devon Primary Care Trust.
  7. Have an awareness of continuous professional development.
  8. To be aware of and comply with Devon Primary Care Trust policies, guidelines and procedures.
  9. Be responsible for the health and safety of self and others and to comply with all aspects of the PCT Health and Safety Policy.
6. Communication and Working Relationships
To work as part of the public health team with working relationships and communication with other PCT colleagues, colleagues within education and Social Services. Develop positive relationships with service users/carers and families. Relay messages between health professionals and colleagues.
  • This is a description of the job as it is as present constituted. It is the practice of this organization periodically to examine employees' job descriptions and to update them to ensure that they relate to the job as then being performed, or to incorporate whatever changes are being proposed. This procedure is jointly conducted by each manager in consultation with those working directly to him or her. You will, therefore, be expected to participate fully in such discussions. It is the organisations' aim to reach agreement to reasonable changes, but if agreement is not possible management reserves the right to insist on changes to your job description after consultation with you.
  • We are committed to serving our community. We aim to co-ordinate our services with secondary and acute care.
  • We aim to make all our services exemplary in both clinical and operational aspects. We will show leadership in identifying healthcare needs to which we can respond and in determining the most cost-effective way of doing so. We will share our knowledge with neighbouring healthcare agencies and professionals.
  • We recruit competent staff whom we support in maintaining and extending their skills in accordance with the needs of the people we serve. We will pay staff fairly and recognize the whole staff's commitment to meeting the needs of our patients.
  • The Trust operates a ‘non smoking policy'. Employees are not able to smoke anywhere within the premises of the Trust or when outside on official business.
  • All employees must demonstrate a positive attitude to Devon PCTs equality policies and Equality Scheme. Employees must not discriminate on the grounds of sex, colour, race, ethnic or national beliefs, marital status, age, disability, sexual orientation, religion or belief and will treat patients, colleagues and members of the public with dignity and respect.
  • If the post holder is required to travel to meet the needs of the job, we will make reasonable adjustments, if required, as defined by the Disability Discrimination Act.

The employer will take all reasonably practical steps to ensure your health, safety and welfare at work. You must familiarise yourself with the employer's Health & Safety policy, and its safety and fire rules. It is your legal duty to take care for your own health and safety as well as that of your colleagues.


It is the responsibility of all members of staff to provide a high standard of care to patients they are involved with. This includes good infection prevention practice.

All staff have a responsibility to comply with Infection Prevention and Control policies and procedures, this includes:

  • Attending mandatory and role specific infection prevention education and training.
  • Challenging poor infection prevention and control practices.
  • Ensuring their own compliance with Trust Infection Prevention and Control policies and procedures for example, standard precautions, hand hygiene, prevention & management of inoculation incidents
You may not disclose any information of a confidential nature relating to the employer or in respect of which the employer has an obligation of confidence to any third party other than where you are obliged to disclose such information in the proper course of your employment or as required by law. Any failure to comply with this term of your employment will be treated as an act of misconduct under the employer's disciplinary procedure.
Criteria Required Essential Desirable
Qualifications & Training GCSE/O Levels (to include English)
RSA stage II Typing or equivalent/ECDL
Customer Care qualification
Specific Knowledge & Skills Excellent communication skills (both verbal and written)
Telephone skills
Understanding of confidentiality
Good IT skills
Time management
Parenting skills knowledge
Child development knowledge
Knowledge of NHS working practice
Special Experience Administration/office experience
Team Working
Child protection Experience of working within the community/school settings
Physical Skills & Effort Car driver
Carrying notes and equipment
Emotional Effort Occasional contact with distressed/abusive parents
Good interpersonal skills
Enthusiastic, motivated and able to use initiative as well as under supervision
Exposure to sensitive situations e.g. child protection
Good concentration for completing paperwork
Mental Effort Ability to use initiative
Ability to work under pressure
Ability to prioritise
Requirements due to working environment Ability to deal with occasionally distressing situation
Ability to adapt to a variety of workplaces
Other requirements The postholder must demonstrate a positive commitment to uphold diversity and equality policies approved by Devon PCT.  

View entire completed application form

The areas on your application form where you can make a real difference are the description of your previous job, the supporting information and references. The link to the completed application for will give you a good idea of how one should be filled out and it shows the difference between completing it well and not so well. 

The information below explains in more details why the supporting statement section of the strong example is so much better than that of the weak example.  Look at the differences between them as these can be applied to any application form that you fill out.

Employment History

Details of your current or most recent employer - Description of your duties and responsibilities

Weak Example

General office duties like answering the phone and talking to people who come into the school. Helping out with meetings and doing 1st aid if a child hurts themselves.

infoWhy is this a weak description of duties?

Strong Example

General office duties such as ordering office supplies, filing and generally ensuring that the office was presentable and welcoming. I was the first point of contact for anyone contacting the school and handled all enquiries made by teachers, pupils, visitors and parents either in person, by phone or in an email. I was required to coordinated staff meetings and type up notes and minutes and I was the appointed 1st Aider at work and designated H&S person for the school.

infoWhy is this a strong description of duties?

Supporting Information

In this section please give your reasons for applying for this post and additional information which shows how you match the person specification for the job (you will have been sent this document with the application form). This can include relevant skills, knowledge, experience, voluntary activities and training etc. If relevant to the post for which you are applying you should include details about research experience, publications or poster presentation, clinical care (knowledge and skills) and clinical audit.

Weak Example

I would like this job as I would like to earn some more money to spend on my holidays. It seems interesting and similar to the job I used to do.

I have children of my own and get involved in their activities. I help out with the Scouts group and also at the local NHS Clinic. I have been a member of the school PTA for a few years and like sorting out the finances. I am good on the computer and can manage my time well. I enjoy meeting and talking to new people and like to play badminton with my friends.


infoWhy is this weak supporting information?

Strong Example

I would like to apply for the role of Public Health Support Worker as advertised on NHS Jobs website. I feel that it would be a rewarding job to which I could bring my office management skills and customer care experience. I also highly value the work of the NHS as I have first hand knowledge of the difference it can make and would be delighted to work for this organisation. I like working in a variety of places and with different types of people as I find this very interesting and motivating.

I am looking for a part time role that is challenging, varied and where I can use the experiences that I gained from 5 years working in a busy school office. It was in that role that I was able to develop my verbal and written communication skills as I was required to handle all office enquiries. These could sometimes be very challenging as they came from pupils, teachers, visitors and parents who were sometime very upset about an issue. I had to learn how to deal with stressful situations calmly and know how to help find a quick solution to a problem. I had to act in a professional manner at all times and adhere to the school strict equality and confidentiality policies as I was handling children’s data and personal details.

I was required to organise staff meetings which could be tricky trying to coordinate 30 busy people’s diaries. I became skilled at getting all the paperwork ready on time. I was also responsible for minute taking during the meetings so I put myself through an online E-typing course to improve my speed and typing accuracy.

I was expected to use a wide range of IT programmes and often helped out the other office staff who were not quite so good on Word and Excel. I used all forms of communication such as phone, email, face-to-face to contact and respond to queries coming into the office and I am confident with them all.

I have had to learn effective time management strategies in order to get both children to school or to their after school activities on time. I often have to do this on my own as my husband works away from home a lot. It required me to be very organised and prioritise everything to make sure everything gets done.

I drive a car and am used to taking all of the equipment to and from the Scouts hut when I help out there everything week. I love helping out and interactive with young children and encouraging them to do new activities. I am enthusiastic about most things that I do and I think this helps a lot with the Scouts as you often have to encourage some children to get involved. You really need to be able to use your own initiative and think on your feet as to what activities you could be doing with the children to make sure they don’t get bored and misbehave. It requires good team working as there are lots of people all trying to get different things done. I have been CRB checked for this role and understand child protection issues

I have had experience of dealing with distressed people, particularly in the NHS Clinic where I am a volunteer play worker. Some parents are understandably upset when their child is ill in the clinic and I find it rewarding if I can provide some comfort for them. I have experience of dealing with sensitive situations as I see many vulnerable young children and their families and you have to learn how best to support them during their time at the clinic. I started helping out at the Clinic as my son has to regularly go there himself. I have 2 children of my own so can empathise with their distress.

Whilst acting as the school’s PTA Finance Officer for the last 2 years, I have had to use many interpersonal skills to negotiate with other members about what to spend the schools funds on. I have the responsibility of completing the finance paperwork which has to be very accurate and delivered on time.

I would very much like to undertake this role so I hope that you will consider my application.

infoWhy is this strong supporting information?


Please give the names of the people who have agreed to supply references. For all positions you must provide 2 references. If you are, or have been employed, these should be your two most recent employers. These may include your line manager or someone in a position of responsibility who can comment on your work experience, competence, personal qualities and suitability for the post. If you are a student please provide contact details of a teacher at your school, college or university. Please note that personal references such as friends and relatives are not acceptable. For all posts written references obtained must cover the preceding 3 years of employment. All referees will be approached prior to interview unless you indicate otherwise.

Weak Example

Referee 1
Surname / Family Name Smith First Name John
Job Title Mr
Address 45 High Street
Post Code / Zip Code   Country  
Telephone 07985461324 Fax  
Email Does not have one
Relationship Father Can the referee be contacted prior to interview? Yes


Strong Example

Referee 1
Surname / Family Name Brown First Name Jodie
Job Title NHS Clinic Manager
Address 19 The Avenue
Post Code / Zip Code EX1 9AM Country UK
Telephone 01246 325978 Fax  
Relationship Scout Pack Coordinator Can the referee be contacted prior to interview? Yes
Referee 2
Surname / Family Name Thomas First Name Paul
Job Title Barnstable Scout Leader
Address 7 Orchard Road
Post Code / Zip Code EX3 8HS Country UK
Telephone 01298 325947 Fax  
Relationship Volunteering Line Manager Can the referee be contacted prior to interview? Yes

infoWhy are these strong references

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