CVs & Covering Letters

How to write a personal statement

A personal statement or profile can be a great addition to any CV. Here’s how to write your own!

If you’re currently in the process of looking for work, you’re probably becoming familiar with the hoops that you have to jump through to impress your future potential employers! You’ll already know about CVs and application forms, but have you come across the personal statement yet?

Sometimes a job application requirement and sometimes just an optional way to stand out from the crowd, it’s well worth knowing how to write one that stands out.

What is a personal statement?

A personal statement is quite simply exactly what it suggests – a brief statement of your skills and experience that tell employers why they should hire you.

You may be asked to include a personal statement alongside an application for a job or as an alternative some graduates like to put a personal statement at the top of their CV (usually seen on a skills based CV).

As a general rule, you should include who you are, what you think you can bring to a role, and what your career goals are. So, you might state that you’re a recent graduate with experience of managing teams in the retail environment, and that you’re keen to pursue a career in retail management.

Do you really need one?

Some job applications will specifically ask for a personal statement. So in this case, yes, you definitely need one!

If an application just asks for a CV, it’s up to you how you present your information. A strong personal statement at the very beginning can help to give recruiters a good overview of your skills and experience and make them want to know more.

Think of it like you might a book – all the good ones have an introduction before getting down to business!

Hints and tips

Get straight to the point

A personal statement is a brief summary of what an employer can find out more about if they read your covering letter and CV.

You’re not writing War and Peace, so work out what it is that you want say and get to the point immediately!

Choosing between first and third person

There’s quite a bit of debate around whether you should refer to yourself in the first or third person when you’re writing a personal statement.

The truth of the matter is that you should just go with your own preference, as long as you remember to be consistent. So, avoid anything like ‘Sarah studied BA (Hons) Business Studies at Sheffield University and I’m keen to start a career in marketing.’

Tailoring your statement to each role

It’s fine to have the bare bones in place, but you should tweak your statement for each role that you apply for.

Start out by looking at the job description and person specification, then pick out the points that really demonstrate why you’re a perfect fit.

Keep it succinct

Anything between 50 and 200 words will be fine for your personal statement, but be careful not to waffle!

It shouldn’t say anything that isn’t covered in further detail in your CV or covering letter.

Read it out loud

The best way to assess the quality of your personal statement is to read it out loud.

Does it make sense? Does it flow well? Does it sound professional and well considered? Ask yourself these questions and you can’t go too far wrong.

Personal Statement Example

If you are still struggling to envisage how a personal statement may look, here is an example from a graduate CV.

I am a recent graduate with a degree in X with a passion for “your industry”. I am extremely creative and I am able to use language alongside images as an outlet. I can use my creativity alongside commercial awareness to gather and analyse key data. Using my strong interpersonal and communication skills I can build a strong relationship with clients and generate sales. I am a great team worker who is able to listen and contribute to discussion effectively. I am actively seeking a role in “your industry”. I am available immediately.

Have you written a personal statement to include at the top of your CV? How did you approach the task? We’d love to hear your hints and tips.