How to Write a Personal Statement
Writing a personal statement isn’t as daunting a task as it might seem. We’ve compiled the following tips on how to write your personal statement, so you’ll be able to convey who you are and why you’re the best person for the job. You can also find our list of personal statement examples here.
What is a personal statement?
How to write a personal statement
How to structure a personal statement
How to start a personal statement
How long should a personal statement be
How to end a personal statement
The personal statement is your chance to shine. You get to show off your strengths, shout about your achievements and share your career aspirations. Your statement should be a small, bite-sized representation of who you are as a professional, and what you have to offer in terms of experience and ambition.
“Recent graduate with a degree in English from Bath University. Practical work experience as the former editor of Bath University student blog and magazine. Looking to start my career in journalism in a role where I can build on the skills gained at university and through my editorial experience.”
As stated above, your personal statement should include a brief overview of who you are, your strengths and any work experience and/or education you’ve had. Also include skills you’ve gained, such as time management, customer service, teamwork, computer skills etc.
Make sure you don’t clutter it up with boring business speak, and banish clichés such as ‘hard worker’ and ‘works well individually or as part of a team’.
Even if you have little-to-no work experience, you can find other ways to sell yourself. You can include hobbies and interests that demonstrate a particular skill or are relevant to the job you’re applying for:
- Captain of school hockey team (shows leadership)
- Volunteer/community work (shows you’re proactive)
- Visiting art galleries and museums (if applying for a job in something relevant…)
Likewise, steer clear of any personal information that doesn’t impact your ability to do the job.
Examples that sell…
- “Enthusiastic school leaver with five GCSEs looking for an apprenticeship in the engineering field. Possessing good written and verbal communication and an interest in engineering which has spanned my lifetime with particular passion for electrics. For my GCSE Design & Technology project, I built a working calculator and was awarded an A*. Looking for a start in the exciting world of electrical engineering where I can learn a trade and realise a lifetime ambition.”
- “A pro-active sales professional with over six years experience. Working as a sales executive for BSkyB, I hit my sales targets and was promoted within two years. This role have enabled me to develop a valuable and transferable skill set which stands me in good stead for a Sales Manager role. ”
If you still need help drafting your personal statement, please refer to our helpful worksheet here.
In order to determine the structure of your personal statement, it helps to answer the following questions:
- Why does this role interest you?
- Why are you suited to this role?
- Do you have any previous jobs or training that relate to this line of work?
- Have you taken part in any projects that help demonstrate your capabilities?
- What specialist skills do you have that make you an ideal candidate?
Once you’ve answered these questions, you’ll have a better idea of what you have to offer. This can then determine the structure of your statement, as you’ll know what to emphasize and what to downplay. For instance, if you don’t have any practical work experience, you can always touch on your academic accomplishments or transferable skills gleaned over the years.
You can also use our personal statement worksheet in order to map out the above.
Start your personal statement with a brief professional summary about yourself. Think of it as a bite-sized blurb that sums up who you are.
- A broadcast professional with five years’ experience working in digital media.
- A highly creative broadcast professional who has recently completed their masters in videography in addition to four years’ experience across digital media.
- An outgoing, sociable and well-presented shop assistant with a passion for first class customer service and three years’ prior experience in a busy high street fashion outlet.
- A skilled and adaptable construction worker who specialises in bricklaying as well as roofing, plastering, plumbing, timber work and demolition.
- An articulate and self-motivated customer service professional with three years’ experience in banking and financial services sectors.
A personal statement should be a short and snappy description, ranging from 50-150 words. Remember, this isn’t a personal essay or a cover letter. It’s simply a summary of who you are as a professional. Recruiters and employers take mere seconds to look over your CV, so you want to be sure to grab them from the get-go.
Your personal statement should end with your objective. It’s a chance to wrap up your statement with an explanation of why you want the role and why you’re best suited to it.
- “Looking for a start in the exciting world of electrical engineering where I can learn a trade and realise a lifetime ambition.”
- “Hoping to find my next challenge in the world of marketing, and to grow my digital portfolio within an innovative, exciting company.”
- “Looking to start my career in Journalism in a role where I can build on the skills gained at University and work experience.”
Personal Statement Do’s and Don’t’s
Here we’ve compiled a list of our key Do’s and Don’ts to help you create the perfect personal statement.
- Hook the reader’s attention by adopting a polite, professional and positive tone
- Keep it short and precise and within the recommended length. It’s important to be concise and to the point otherwise you’ll sound muddled and lose the attention of your potential employer.
- Include a brief overview of your career history. Where have you worked previously? What did you learn from the experience you have had?
- Highlight key areas of expertise. What do you excel at? What can you bring to the company?
- Include key skills. How do your skills match up the job description? What sets you apart from other applicants?
- Indicate the type of role you are seeking. Why does the role you’re applying for appeal to you?
- Avoid cliches. Filling your personal statement with cliches makes your application impersonal and dull, and can also sound cringeworthy.
- Use the language of the job description. This show that you have read the job description thoroughly and have a comprehensive understanding of what the role requires.
- Include unnecessary personal information e.g. if you are married, recently divorced or how many children you have. This is will have no bearing on your potential employer’s decision on whether you are competent for the role.
- Include anything negative – do not talk about your flaws! You need to present yourself in the best possible light so remain positive.
- Try to be flamboyant or over the top – 9 times out of 10 this will not impress anyone.
- Use hyperbolic claims that you cannot back up. It’s likely that employers will ask you about these claims and will be less than impressed if you don’t have the evidence to support them
- Be vague or regurgitate generic things. Your personal statement needs to be tailored to your specific skills and achievements. Simply copying an example you found online will make you appear lazy and disinterested and will NOT impress a potential employer
- Do not lie or exaggerate – you will be found out.