A personal statement is a short summary of what you can bring to the job. It sits at the start of your CV and acts as an introduction to your credentials. It aims to summarise a few of the most important points and set the scene nicely for the hiring manager.
A personal statement can also go by other names:
- Career objective
- Personal profile
- Career profile
- Career summary
- Opening statement
- Executive Summary
It should not be confused with the type of personal statement that you write for a college or university application, which will be much longer and in an entirely different format (see, for example, www.personal-statement-examples.com).
“It’s your opportunity to really sell yourself to employers and to highlight the relevant skills and experience you possess. While effectively and succinctly convincing recruiters that you’re a good fit for the role, a personal statement gives you the chance to show off your strengths and share your career goals.”
With only a few seconds to impress an employer you need to make a great first impression. A perfectly written personal statement can do just that, and draws the reader into the application further. It should leave them wanting to know more about the candidate and leave a lasting and positive memorable impression.
We believe that a personal statement should get as much love and attention as any of the other sections of a CV, and 2020 is going to be an even more competitive job market than 2019. Here’s how to write a personal statement.
“This is your banner heading summarising your main selling points”
Not every employer reads them
Whilst not every employer fully reads a personal statement, most would agree that it should always be there. In fact, most employers won’t fully read your entire CV because they just don’t have the time to read every single word. What a hiring manager typically does is delve in and out of each one to pick out the essentials.
In any case, writing a personal statement is a must in our opinion as you never know who might be reading it and what they will expect. You need to cover all angles and assume it will get read in detail. This will minimise any risk and ensure you create a nice introduction to your credentials.
We have never heard of an employer reject a CV because a personal statement was present. However, they would routinely reject a CV if the personal statement was written poorly!
A personal statement should be no longer than around 150-200 words. There are some professions which require a longer statement, but typically around 4-6 sentences is fine. Statements written for UCAS approval to get into university can be much longer – around 400-500 words.
How to structure a personal statement
Here is a breakdown of what you should cover within your statement:
- Introduce yourself
Here are a few examples –
‘I am a recent graduate from Nottingham University having achieved a 2:1 in English Literature.’
‘A highly motivated junior digital marketer recently graduated with a 1st class honours from the University of Oxford in Digital Marketing.’
‘An inspirational History teacher with a passion and thirst for knowledge, looking to offer over 20 years experience in the oversight of academic programs and to promote student success.’
Your introduction quickly sums up who you are from a career perspective, or if you’ve recently left education you can list your grade and subject. However you decide to introduce yourself, make sure it’s imaginative and unique.
- What you can offer the company and your career goals
Before you write this part you need to research what the company wants from someone in this role. Is communication important? Does the candidate need a proven track record in sales? Focus upon a couple of the most important aspects and then tailor your statement if you can. Confirm what you can offer the company which is exactly what they are looking for.
Here is an example:
‘With over 10 years experience in the motor trade including the parts department, administration and sales; I am looking to move up to the next level and become a Sales Manager for a highly motivated team. Over the past 3 years I have worked in the sales department for Nissan and Renault consistently hitting and exceeded my targets.’
How to make your personal statement stand out
A personal statement should always be unique to the individual applying for the job, and should not be copied or written in a generic way from other examples. Writing a generic personal statement will typically not address the specific needs of the company.
Always tailor every aspect of your personal statement and your entire CV. This will ensure you address all the important skills, qualifications, personal traits, and experience. The hiring manager needs to quickly see that you have written your statement for them and them alone. You could even mention something within your statement that clearly demonstrates you have read the requirements from the job advert.
Every word of your personal statement should be the truth. If you are looking for a career in the world of sales, marketing, accountancy or engineering – then plan your career accordingly. Don’t just apply to the first job you come across as it will be very hard to convince an employer that this is really what you want to do.
Be completely honest and don’t just write a personal statement for the sake of it. If you write what you believe the employer wants to here but isn’t really true, you will likely get caught out at the interview stage anyway.
If you make a spelling mistake in your statement it will likely result in an instant rejection. Unless you can somehow redeem yourself with one of a kind skills and qualifications, it’s unlikely that the hiring manager will read any further.
Your opening statement has to be completely free of errors otherwise it will have been a waste of time applying. Your entire credentials are now in doubt and the employer will assume you are sloppy and prone to errors. Although this may not be true in a working environment, they can only go by what they see. It would make a terrible first impression and you may never even realise that’s the reason for your constant rejection.
Have someone else check over your entire application to ensure there are no spelling or grammatical errors. Also check the presentation of your CV – the layout, spacing, font style and size.