Personal statement: dos and don’ts

Not sure why your CV is letting you down? 

Well, it could be as simple as changing the first few sentences. Especially if you don’t know how to write a personal statement. It’s often the first thing a hiring manager sees on your CV, and a bad one could even be the difference between a recruiter reading your CV or rejecting it.

We’ve already put together some personal statement examples you can use. But to make sure you’re suitably practiced and prepared, here’s our list of personal statement dos and don’ts:

 

Do

Get straight to the point – A good personal statement isn’t just informative, it’s also succinct and concise. So try keeping it between 100 and 200 words for maximum impact (N.B. personal statements for university will be longer).

Make sure you answer the key questions – Who are you? What can you bring to the role? And what is your career goal? Structure your statement using these as a guideline and you’ll ensure you maintain your focus throughout.

Add value – Always aim to be specific. Quantifying achievements such as ‘Increased revenue’ with a number (e.g. ‘by x amount’) is much more impactful than merely hinting at your success. Add value to your statement and you’ll enhance your credibility.

Avoid clichés – Like the rest of your application, the more personal you can make it, the better. It’s difficult to stand out from the crowd when you fall back on the same classic CV clichés that hiring managers will probably see all day (we’re looking at you, ‘A great team player’).

Use the job description – A key part of writing your personal statement is being able to put across the skills that make you the perfect fit for the role. Struggling to think of the right ones? Surprisingly, most of them have already been given to you – in the job description. Utilise it properly and you instantly become a more appealing candidate.

 

Other things to do: Use some of the following words or phrases – successfully, developed, proven, track-record, experienced, delivering results.

What words should I use on my CV

Five CV skills employers look for

Don’t

Be too generic – It might take a little more time to tailor your statement to each position, but your CV will be much more effective as a result, making it time well spent in the long-run.

Focus on yourself – It can be tempting to focus on your own attributes, and where you want to go in your career. But the best personal statements cover what skills you would bring to the company and what you can offer them that no other candidate can.

Confuse it with your cover letter – Your personal statement is meant as a short introduction. Keep it that way. Small representations of your success (e.g. a Financial Analyst with eight years’ experience) are necessary – but keep them brief. Use your cover letter and employment history to elaborate on your achievements and your personal statement to grab their attention. Don’t get confused between the two.

Think of it as a list – ‘I am experienced. I am qualified. I am a good communicator. I just choose to write every sentence like this…’ Don’t feel confined to list everything you have ever done or every attribute you have and (see also: start every sentence with ‘I’). The recruiter knows who your CV is about.

Forget to read it out loud  – Read it. Read it again. Get your friends and family to read it. And, most importantly, read it out loud and make sure it flows (and there aren’t any spelling and grammar mistakes). Not only do you want it to impress the employer in terms of your achievements, you also want it to be well-written. Making sure it flows is a vital part of the process.

 

Other things not to do: Confuse tenses, forget to spellcheck, make it too personal, speak in colloquialisms, use the phrase YOLO.

Five lines that are killing your CV

What not to do on your CV

 

 

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