How to write a personal statement
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.
Our 10-step guide to writing your personal statement:
1. Keep it short and to the point. Your personal statement should just be a few lines or bullets, and range from 50 to 100 words. There's no room for waffling.
2. The first sentence is the most important part of all. Some employers won’t even go beyond this, if it doesn't show what they’re looking for. So use the first few words to state your credentials in a positive way, such as ‘Experienced web designer with...’ or ‘CIPD qualified HR Manager, experienced in...’
3. Next, describe your key skills and experience. Wherever you can, use skills keywords that are mentioned in the job ad you're applying for. It’s also good to use figures to add credibility, such as ‘Successfully managed budgets of over £1million’ or ‘…with over 12 years’ experience at blue chip PR agencies’.
4. When describing your key skills, use one or two adjectives to convey 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’ or ‘rigorous’. Make sure the adjectives are relevant to the job - and are true, of course.
5. Give employers an idea of your ideal next step, if it's relevant to the vacancy. For example, 'Now looking to develop my career in accountancy as an internal auditor'.
6. Read it and re-read it, editing ruthlessly. It's fine 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 cliches, and the overuse of 'I'. And avoid vague descriptions of your strengths; always tie them in to a specific achievement or area of expertise.
8. Read your statement out loud to check it flows naturally.
9. Get a second opinion from a few trusted friends or colleagues.
10. Finally, remember to check it over every time you submit your CV for a new vacancy. You should always tailor your personal statement to highlight the areas of your skillset 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 e-commerce business alongside high street retail.
ANOTHER STRONG, WELL-TARGETED EXAMPLE:
A professional charity fundraiser with senior level experience spanning direct marketing and capital fundraising campaigns. Have spent two years initiating and launching a campaign for a top 50 charity that raised £6 million within 9 months. 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.
AND HERE'S HOW NOT TO DO IT:
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.
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