There’s a lot of people with a lot of different opinions about personal statements on CVs. Some people love ‘em, others can’t stand ‘em. One thing that we can say for certain is that they’re pretty good to give a really brief snapshot of your experience, but they’re also an absolute nightmare to write. And that’s where we come in. Enter the GoThinkBig guide to personal statements on CVs.
Keep it brief
Your personal statement should definitely be no longer than 200 words. You’re not writing a novel. It’s just an outline of who you are, and why the person reading your CV should give you a job. Make sure you don’t ramble either. Often the temptation when writing a personal statement is to try and stretch it out to make use of the full 200 words, but actually you could have something that’s much more effective by just using 50 words. So choose your words carefully and don’t ramble.
I? Me? He/She?
It can be hard to decide whether to write your personal statement in the first person (using I and me) or in the third person (using your name and he/she). Honestly though, it doesn’t really matter. Both ways are acceptable – just make sure you stick with the same one the whole way through.
Another thing we’d advise is to not start your personal statement with ‘I’ or you name. There are better ways of writing it. Try something like: “As a recent graduate from Staffordshire University, Natalie…” or something like that. And definitely don’t use Natalie if your name isn’t Natalie.
But what should I actually say?
The personal statement basically exists to say three things: who you are, what you can offer, and your career aim.
The ‘who you are’ section should be a brief overview (or a ‘top line’ as our boss likes to say) of you and your experiences. This section will probably include phrases like ‘recent graduate’, or ‘student looking for work experience’, and ‘work experience at a wide range of places, including…’
The ‘what you can offer’ section should explain a little bit about your skills and expertise and why you’re the perfect person for the job, placement or apprenticeships. It’s a good idea to use specific examples of when you’ve made use of these skills during the experiences that you’ve mentioned in your ‘who you are’ section.
The ‘career aim’ section isn’t asking you where you see yourself in ten years’ time. It’s more about what you’re looking for right now. So something like ‘looking to secure a position in a media organisation’, or ‘looking to organise work experience to develop my skills’.
Hints and tips
Because this is the ultimate guide to writing a personal statement for your CV, we thought we’d give you a few more little tips to help you out:
Write it yourself. It sounds obvious, but there are some companies who will offer to write your personal statement for you (for a fee, of course). But don’t be tempted – although it can be hard to write, it’ll sound a lot more authentic and personal if you do it yourself. If you get really stuck, don’t be afraid to ask a friend to help you.
Avoid buzzwords. While buzzwords can be really important for online profiles (like LinkedIn, for example) so that you appear in search results, you don’t want to use them on your CV. It makes it sound like you’re just regurgitating something you’ve read somewhere else. So avoid words and phrases like ‘extensive experience’, ‘results-oriented’, ‘team player’, and ‘proven track record’ and be original.
Read it out loud. The only way you’re going to be able to tell if something reads well is if you hear it. So read it out loud to yourself and see if it makes sense and sounds ok. Maybe don’t do this in a public place though as you might look a little odd.
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Not sure what to include in your personal statement?
Although a personal statement can have many uses (whether it’s for university or for your CV), its purpose is always based around selling yourself to the reader. Not only do you have to summarise your skills and experience, you also have to make sure it’s relevant to what you’re applying for.
So how can you help yours stand out? To make sure you’re doing it right, here are our top tips to consider when writing your personal statement for your CV:
What is a personal statement?
A personal statement is generally the first thing included in your CV, and is a brief personal summary given to prospective employers to help you stand apart from the competition.
You will also need a personal statement for university applications. However, this will be much more detailed – and try and help you gain a place at uni.
Personal statements for university
Why do I need a personal statement?
Your personal statement is one of the most important parts of your CV.
It gives you a chance to sell yourself to the employer in a small and easy-to-digest paragraph. By summing up the specific skills and experience that make you perfect for the position, you’ll be able to prove your suitability and convince the recruiter to read on.
In fact, a well written personal statement can mean the difference between standing out from the crowd and your application being rejected.
How long should a personal statement be?
Ideally, your personal statement should be no more than around 150 words (or four or five lines of your CV). Any more than this and you run the risk of rambling and taking up valuable space.
Remember: it’s a summary, not a cover letter. So keep it concise, pertinent and to the point.
Try reading our personal statement examples to help you get started.
What do you put in a personal statement?
Successful personal statements answer the following questions:
- Who are you?
- What can you offer?
- What are your career goals?
To make sure you’ve ticked all the boxes, consider bullet-pointing answers to these when drafting your personal statement. And, if you’re struggling for inspiration, use the job description to help you identify the specific skills the employer is looking for.
For example, if it highlights that the perfect candidate will have excellent business analysis skills, make sure you cover this somewhere in your statement.
This could sound something like: ‘Working experience of strategic business analysis with an investigative and methodical approach to problem-solving.’
Personal statement: Dos and don’ts
How do you begin a personal statement?
Starting off with the ‘who are you?’ question, always aim to include a quick introduction as the first point.
An example opening for your personal statement could be: ‘A qualified and enthusiastic X, with over Y years’ worth of experience, currently searching for a Z position to utilise my skills and take the next step in my career’.
What tense should it be written in?
Your personal statement can be written in any person or tense – as long as you maintain consistency throughout.
This means avoiding statements like: ‘I am a recent business economics graduate. Excellent analytical and organisational skills. I am driven and self-motivated individual that always gives 100% in everything I do. Proven track record of successes’ –at all costs.
How long should I spend writing my personal statement?
A personal statement isn’t a one-size-fits all document.
In other words, a new one should be written for each application you send off. Although it might take some time to alter it according to each job role, your effort will make all the difference when it comes to impressing an employer.
After all, each job requires a slightly different set of skills and experience – meaning the level of focus you put on your abilities will change from application to application.
Remember: generic personal statements won’t get you anywhere – and sending off five well-written and tailored CVs has more value than sending out fifty generic ones.
Personal statement example
A recent business economics graduate with a 2:1 honours degree from the University of X, looking to secure a Graduate Commercial Analyst position or similar to utilise my current analytical skills and knowledge, and also help me to further develop these skills in a practical and fast-paced environment.
My eventual career goal is to assume responsibility for the analysis and implementation of all commercial data and actively contribute to the overall success of any business I work for.
Personal statement examples
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