Writing an Outstanding Fellowship Application

Toolkits and Testimonies

Over the years we have read thousands of applications. Here are a few tips to make yours stand out and give you the best chance of securing an interview:

Be brave and honest with yourself

We’re not looking for perfectly formed leaders but above all those with appetite, curiosity, and a willingness to develop and grow. This is not a job application, we are looking for potential, rather than just assessing your achievements to date. Be brave, be honest and take the time to really think about whether this is the right programme and the right time for you, and if so why.

Be open to learning

Clore Fellows are regularly taken outside of their comfort zone, and we want you to demonstrate your curiosity and openness to learning so that we know you’ll be able to make the most of this opportunity. Leadership isn’t about having all of the answers, and your application should express how and where you’d like to expand, and improve your skills and knowledge.

Reflect and take time

Over the past 10 years candidates have told us how the process for applying for a Clore Fellowship in itself has helped them to reflect on their strengths, ambitions and development needs. Whatever the outcome of your application, this can be time well spent. It’s important that you give yourself enough time to review and change your application: those career ‘highlights’ that immediately jump to mind may not necessarily be the moments at which you’ve displayed true leadership. Try not to leave it to the very last minute.

Write as yourself

‘Authentic leadership’ is a core principle of the Fellowship Programme, and we are looking for leaders who know and are true to themselves. Make sure that you are writing in your true voice and try and allow your personality to come across. Remember: successful leadership isn’t all about bravado – humility, honesty and generosity are vital qualities to lead.

Desire to lead

Take a moment to honestly ask yourself – ‘do I have the desire to lead?’ Consider your motives for applying for a Fellowship, and if you’re simply seeking to add to your CV, perhaps think again. In the words of one Clore Fellow: ‘the Fellowship acts like a badge of honour, but you can’t rest on your laurels, you have to go out there and live the things it stands for in order to sustain that reputation’. Leadership can be a difficult and lonely experience, and it is crucial to think hard about its potential demands before submitting your application.

Get honest feedback

Your colleagues, associates, and even friends and family will be able to offer different and hugely valuable perspectives on your ability to lead. Don’t be afraid to ask for honest feedback; this is not just an opportunity to consider areas where you need to improve; they will also be able to identify personal strengths that you take for granted or have overlooked in your application.

Edit carefully- distil, convince, advocate

We recognise that it’s difficult to communicate all your intricacies in a written application. Your answers are not supposed to be exhaustive, but the best possible indication of your leadership qualities to help us with our assessment. Edit carefully and remain concise and to the point. Remember that being able to convince and advocate are essential skills of cultural leadership in the 21st century, and that your application is a chance to show that you possess them.

Why you? Why now?

If you feel strongly that this particular moment is the correct time in your career to undertake a Fellowship, we want to know why. Draw attention to previous and current experience and challenges that you have faced or are facing, and explain how they’ve led you to make the step up into leadership – a convincing narrative can be very powerful.

What’s the impact?

A Clore Fellowship provides you with the time to focus on yourself and explore your strengths, but ultimately we are developing resilient leaders in order that the UK’s arts and culture, audiences and communities stand to benefit. Your application should take this into account, illustrating how you want to impact those around you and put your Fellowship learning into practice. Allow space to convey what difference it will make to you and your community and why that change will be positive and valuable at this particular time.

Watch the jargon

Write in plain English – technical words may seem impressive, but they have an adverse effect on letting your own voice shine through. Remember that your assessor may be reading about something deeply familiar to you for the first time, and so try and make your writing interesting, clear and concise.

Pick the right nominator

When choosing a nominator, it might be tempting to ask a senior colleague whose name and position carries weight. However, think hard about what will strengthen your application and what could weaken it: a detailed and considered endorsement from a colleague who knows you well, or a few hasty lines from someone who is not familiar with your leadership potential. Assessors can tell immediately when a nominator’s comments don’t match up to the application; make sure you think carefully and explain to your chosen nominator what the Fellowship means to you.

Good luck!