How to write a personal statement
25 Nov 2014
Your ‘personal statement’ is the short summary of your key skills and experience that you should put at the top of your CV. It’s vital to spend time getting this right, as many employers will use this statement to decide whether or not to read the rest of your CV.
A step-by-step guide to writing your personal statement:
1. Keep it short! Your personal statement should just be a few lines or bullet points, from 50–100 words.
2. The first sentence is the most important part of all – some employers won’t even go beyond this, if it isn’t what they’re looking for. The first few words should state your profession in a positive way, eg ‘Experienced web designer with...’ or ‘CIPD qualified HR Manager, experienced in...’
3. The statement should then describe your key skills and experience. Wherever you can (provided it's true!) use skills keywords that are mentioned in the job ad you're applying for. It’s also good to use figures to add credibility, eg ‘Successfully managed budgets of over £1million’ or ‘…with over 12 years’ experience at blue chip PR agencies’.
4. When giving your key skills, use one or two adjectives to describe who you are as a person, so employers can get a sense of your personality and your strengths. Use words such as ‘creative’, ‘motivated’, ‘energetic’, ‘rigorous’. Make sure the adjectives are relevant to the job - and always truthful, of course.
5. Give employers an indication of your ideal next step, provided it's relevant to the vacancy. eg 'Now looking to develop my career in accountancy as an internal auditor'.
6. Read it and re-read it, editing ruthlessly. It's OK to clip out words rather than write in complete sentences. For example 'I have experience of editing content for a website that won several awards' can be shortened to: 'Website content editor for an award-winning site.'
7. Avoid using 'I' repeatedly, avoid cliches, and avoid vague descriptions of your strengths (always tie them in with a specific achievement or area of expertise).
8. Read your statement out loud to ensure it flows naturally.
9. Show it to a few trusted friends or colleagues for a second opinion.
10. Remember to check over your personal statement every time you submit your CV for a new vacancy. You should always tailor it to emphasise those areas of your skills that most closely match the job advert.
A GOOD EXAMPLE OF A PERSONAL STATEMENT:
'A highly driven merchandiser with over 8 years’ experience at leading fashion chain retailers. Helped deliver increased team sales in excess of 10% per year over the last 3 years, despite challenging market. Particular expertise in new product development, contributing to packaging design of 3 new lines in current role. Valuable experience in developing ecommerce business alongside high street retail.'
A POOR EXAMPLE, BECAUSE IT'S TOO VAGUE:
'I am hard working, a good communicator and well-organised. I am a Project Manager, able to work well in a team and individually. My experience working under pressure means I can meet deadlines every time. Also, I am a good problem-solver, have a creative mind and think laterally.'
ANOTHER GOOD EXAMPLE:
A professional charity fundraiser with senior level experience spanning direct marketing and capital fundraising campaigns. In last 2 years have initiated and launched a campaign that raised £6 million within 9 months, for a top 50 charity. Adept at using social media, TV, telemarketing and face to face fundraising methods. Now seeking to use my skills in a part time role at a smaller charity, to have more hands-on input.
More advice about how to write a good CV and adapt it for different job applications is available at the CV Clinic run by award winning organisation Women Like Us.