What is a Personal Statement: Definitions and Examples

The first section in any successful CV is a personal statement, which acts as an overview of your professional career to date and an introduction to prospective employers. A personal statement should encapsulate your skills, abilities and qualifications in a short paragraph, ensuring that employers or recruiters can determine whether you’re a good fit for the position. While writing a concise yet informative personal statement may seem overwhelming, it’s a great way of helping employers screen you as a potential candidate. Below, we explore what a personal statement is, what to include in it and how to start one. 

What is a Personal Statement?

The personal statement is the first section of a CV and provides recruiters with an overview of your profile and career development. It’s a short paragraph that includes your core skills, key achievements and the statistics that provide context for your successes. In some cases, you may see a personal statement referred to as a personal summary or a personal profile. When you start writing a personal statement, consider breaking it into several core elements that then link together to create a cohesive statement. A personal statement should be tailored to the role that you’re applying for, to ensure that you’re highlighting elements of the job description within your CV. By taking this approach, you can always guarantee that you’re staying relevant and writing a statement that maximises your potential for a successful application.

What Should a Personal Statement Include?

When you’re creating a personal statement for your CV, it’s easier to break the section into several key components that touch on each key element of your career. This makes it easier to write while also ensuring that you cover the important aspects an employer may look for. The key components to consider include: · An introduction to you and your career development · The previous roles you’ve had and the core skills you learnt in that role · The value that you can provide to an organisation using those skills · Your career objectives and how the company values match those objectives By meeting each point of the criteria, you can help an employer determine your suitability quickly, even if they’re simply screening applications. This is especially important in competitive roles where an employer may be viewing hundreds of applications at a time.

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What to Avoid in Your Personal Statement

While there are plenty of things to include in your personal statement, there are also several things that you want to avoid including.

The first, and most important thing, is to avoid using unnecessary information. By including irrelevant information, you not only increase your word count for little gain but also take up space that may be used for more relevant content.

At each point of your statement, the information you’re providing should be purely focused on the various elements mentioned within the job description. Similarly, avoid using overly-descriptive techniques and passive voice. Utilise active descriptors and be as factual and straightforward as possible.

How to Start a Personal Statement

Starting a personal statement may seem overwhelming at first but if you separate the section into several smaller components, it’s easier to get started. Consider the steps below as a way of starting and creating a compelling, engaging statement:

· Consider breaking the statement down into several sections
· Utilise any relevant information from your history
· Use templates or examples
· Write a strong opening
· Revise your statement thoroughly

1. Consider breaking the statement down into several sections

While your personal statement shouldn’t be separated in the final draft, it’s easier to start a personal statement by breaking it down into several smaller elements. If you approach each topic as a smaller individual project, with its own individual outline, you can ensure that you’re covering the right information and creating a concise but engaging statement.

A secondary benefit of breaking the statement down means you can ensure that each section flows for readers. While your personal statement should be tailored to each role you apply for, the following sections are fundamental things to consider:

· Your past responsibilities and the skills you learned
· Qualifications and educational achievements
· Your personal mission, values and goals
· Any volunteer or work experience

2. Utilise any relevant information from your history

When you start thinking about creating your personal statement, write down the achievements, goals and experiences you have that you can reference in this section. For instance, if you had a large impact in your last role, think about how you can mention that and also provide statistical evidence.

Similarly, if you have educational qualifications or honours, you may include these as examples of relevant abilities and experiences. The important thing to remember when using relevant information in the past is to provide contextual evidence and reference a tangible impact you had.

3. Use templates or examples

If you’re struggling to start a personal statement, you may use examples or templates that can help you get started. These templates can typically provide you with an idea of how to separate your statement into specific sections, which you can then tweak to suit your own experiences and responsibilities.

If you’re looking for an example of a personal statement, you can read our article on ‘How to Write a Personal Statement: Tips and Examples’ here.

4. Write a strong opening

The first line of your personal statement is the most important, as it has to grab the attention of a recruiter or employer. It’s common for people to leave the introductory sentence until the end, as this allows you to sum up the most important parts of the statement and then build your intro from that information.

In some cases, you may realise that you need to provide a key piece of information immediately, which you’ll only understand once you’ve created the rest of the personal statement. Saving the introduction until the end also helps you avoid using overused phrases that may lose the reader’s attention.

5. Revise your statement thoroughly

Once you’ve written your personal statement, it’s important to proofread it thoroughly. Your personal statement reflects the first impression an employer may have of you, so it’s critical that your statement is free of misspellings and errors.

By taking a break after completing the first draft, you can revisit the writing with a fresh perspective and find improvements. Depending on how you want to approach your revisions, you may also send the statement to your friends or peers to get a second opinion.

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