How to write a personal statement

how to write a personal statement

Job-hunting, furloughed or a struggling freelancer? Updating your CV is a smart idea if you’re preparing to put yourself out there and search for a new job. And all good CVs begin with a hard-hitting personal statement. But don’t panic, you don’t need to be a professional copywriter to make this happen. Read on to find out how to write a personal statement to start your CV off with a bang.

What is a personal statement?

A personal statement is a summary of your experience, skills and career goals which appears at the top of your CV.

Do I need to write a personal statement for my CV?

A personal statement is one of the first things potential employers see when looking at your CV. So, don’t jump straight into a list of jobs and qualifications. Add a personal statement at the top of your CV to set out your proverbial stall.

Here, you can tell employers all the stuff you really want them to know. Highlight your strengths, key skills and goals. It’s an opportunity to give an overview of your suitability for a job, making sure you tick all their boxes.

What format should a personal statement take?

Your personal statement should be a short paragraph of around three or four lines. No more than 150 words is the ideal length for a personal statement, in fact. Position it at the top of your CV, after your name and contact details.

I always like to start a personal statement as if it’s been written by a third person. For example, “a confident, organised and efficient personal assistant”. However, it’s fine to use personal pronouns later on to make your point. I also like to centralise that and the contact details to make a visual impact, but formatting is a personal choice.

What should I include in my personal statement?

Your personal statement should highlight your key strengths, qualities and experience. It should detail what you’re looking for in a job, and why you’re searching for a new challenge or career change. If it’s not clear from the rest of your CV, explain any recent breaks in employment. For example: “After taking an extended career break to travel the world, I am excited to use the training and work experience I’ve done since then to embark on a new role in journalism.”

If it’s not clear from your employment history, your personal statement is a place to hammer home who you are, what you can do and why you want to do it for the company you’re applying to. 

How to write a career change personal statement

Applying for a job in a new industry? Use your personal statement to detail why you feel you would be great for the role, even if you haven’t got any experience in the sector.

Focus on your transferrable skills gained in previous jobs. Big up your personal qualities, strengths and hobbies. Make sure you include the skills gained from any work experience or volunteering you’ve done. This will demonstrate how you think you’re a great fit for the job.

Remember, you’ll likely be up against people who do have direct experience in your chosen field. So, your personal statement is your shot at making yourself stand out and convincing employers to consider you.

How to write a graduate personal statement

Like career change personal statements, a graduate personal statement is likely to be lacking in real experience. Again, seize this opportunity to sell yourself and show why you’re capable of doing the job.

Detail skills and experience you gained through your studies that can be applied to the job you’re interested in. Meeting uni deadlines is no different to meeting work deadlines. So, adapt your educational skills to suit the job spec. Also, explain how any extra-curricular activities you did at uni prepared you for the world of work. 

Employers aren’t expecting graduates to have much experience. Instead, concentrate on your personal qualities, strengths and hobbies to show what sort of person you are.

For most jobs, good team fit is a key factor in employers taking on one candidate over another. Therefore, show your personality and keep the faith that the right company will give you a chance. 

Examples of good personal statements

Still scratching your head over what a personal statement looks like and includes? I’ve made up some examples of good personal statements below to give you some direction.

  • A driven, hardworking and highly organised individual with 10 years’ experience as a high level personal assistant. After coming to the end of a maternity cover, I am now seeking to bring my considerable experience and administrative, time-management and interpersonal skills to a new role as a PA.
  • A dynamic, confident and skilled PPC executive ready to take the next step. Having spent the past four years running high-budget PPC and social ad campaigns for multiple clients at a busy social media agency, I am now keen to progress my career further in a PPC management position.
  • A meticulous, organised and highly proficient multilingual translator looking for the next challenge. Spending the past eight years working for a major translation house, I am ready to channel my energy, enthusiasm and fluency in French, German and Spanish into a new job with a reputable company.
  • A strong leader and experienced teacher ready to take on a role in senior level management. Having spent the past three years teaching Maths in an OFSTED-rated outstanding academy, while fulfilling a number of pastoral roles, I am ready to bring my leadership qualities and excellent levels of pastoral care to a new role.
  • A creative innovator looking to use the skills gained in a digital marketing career to embark on a new path in photography. Completing a number of key training courses and work experience placements, as well as being a keen photography hobbyist for the past decade has brought me to the point where I am ready to turn my passion into a job by pursuing a career in the photography industry.

While it’s hopefully useful for you to see examples of good personal statements written by a professional copywriter, don’t just copy and paste! The word personal is a dead giveaway – it’s all about you.

General tips for writing a good personal statement

Lacking experience or inspiration? Don’t be tempted to pad out your personal statement with cliches or business babble. Speak from the heart and make sure it sounds like something you’d actually say… within reason. Steer clear of slang, jokes and keep a professional tone of voice throughout.

When writing a personal statement, zone in on your strengths and don’t mention your weaknesses. While this may be the cliched interview question, your personal statement is a place for bigging yourself up, not talking yourself down.

A personal statement is a professional overview of yourself. Therefore, it’s no place for personal details, like how many children you have. Feel free to mention your family and pastimes in a “hobbies and other information” section at the end of your CV if you wish. Yet focusing on personal or family facts in a personal statement makes you sound like you’re not professionally minded.

Finally, while it’s tempting to go all out in your bid to talk yourself up in your personal lie, make sure it’s true. If you start embellishing or lying in your personal statement, it will come back to bite you if you’re quizzed about your claims at interview.

If you’re still unsure of how to put together a personal statement without the help of a professional copywriter, drop me a line and I’d be happy to help.