When you apply for a new job or a university course, you’ll likely need to write a personal statement.
Understanding how to write a personal statement is a skill that isn’t specific to one career or field and can be used regularly throughout your life.
If you know what makes a great personal statement and how to write one, you can improve the quality of your application and make sure that you stand out from the crowd.
In this article, we explore how to write a personal statement and provide tips for you to use when you’re writing your personal statement.
What is a Personal Statement?
A personal statement is a complete overview of your career and professional development.
The personal statement should cover your qualifications, skill set and achievements, using context to reinforce the reader’s understanding of your experience.
It’s common to write a personal statement when you apply for university or a new job role. Typically, a personal statement is either a standalone document or is included within your CV, meaning it’s important to get it right as it’ll be seen by a lot of people.
In some cases, you may see a personal statement referred to as a personal summary.
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How to Write a Personal Statement
The most important thing to remember when you write a personal statement is that you want to be engaging and grab the reader’s attention.
Your personal statement is a reflection of you so it should be grammatically correct, factual and give off a good first impression. Remember that your personal statement is also a great way of standing out from the crowd and it can directly impact you earning your dream role.
If you’re trying to understand how to write a personal statement, here are our top tips to follow:
Base it on the Job Description or University Course Guidelines
Before you start writing a personal statement, take the time to read through the job description or the university/college course guidelines. Within these documents, the employer or tutor has described exactly what they’re looking for from a candidate which can help you build your personal statement.
This is especially true when you apply for a job, as job descriptions explicitly state what skills, qualifications and experience you’ll ideally have. You can use this information as the foundation of your personal statement and bring up any experience you have that matches what’s on the job description. Where possible, you can also use real-life instances that provide evidence of these skills in action.
Focus on Writing an Engaging Introduction
The start of your personal statement should highlight who you are and where you are currently in your career, including what you enjoy about the current role. You can also use this opportunity to highlight any long-term career goals, which gives readers an idea of your work ethic and how you might align with the business or course. Try to be as concise as possible and provide an ‘elevator pitch’ about you.
An example of this is: ‘As a motivated marketing manager I specialise in conceptualising and building exciting marketing campaigns, leading a team of creatives to improve the marketing output of a business. It’s my goal to run a marketing agency one day and build a brand from scratch that I can call my own.
Highlight the Value You Offer
After you’ve introduced yourself, you want to demonstrate the value you can offer. Take the time to read the job description or course guidelines again at this point, as this section needs to be as relevant as possible.
While you’re running through your skills, qualifications and achievements, use as many real-life experiences as possible because this gives the reader context and reinforces the strength of your skill set. By operating with this approach, you can establish yourself as the best choice whilst supporting this claim with proper evidence. If you need to show a deeper understanding or more technical skills here, this is the place to do it.
An example of this is: ‘In my current role, I lead the entire marketing output for the business including the brainstorming and creation of marketing campaigns that have directly led to an improvement in sales performance. Since I became marketing manager, sales have increased by 25% due to our cohesive campaigns backed by SEO, PPC and email marketing channels, as well as the data-driven approach we’ve adopted in terms of reporting on and recycling campaigns.’
Highlight Career Objectives
After the introduction and demonstration of skills, you should show your reasoning for applying and how the new role aligns with your long-term career goals. This is a relatively brief section but provides plenty of useful context and allows you to expand on your reasoning. It can also be part of your personal statement that highlights your personality and shows how you might be a great fit for the culture of the business.
An example of this section is: ‘I am looking to become the Head of Marketing at your business because I’d like to lead a larger team, have more impact on the direction of a business and learn more about the running of the business from a senior perspective.
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Tips on Writing a Personal Statement
Below is a breakdown of the top tips when writing a personal statement and how to approach the entire process:
Use Real-Life Examples
Whenever you reference a skill or achievement, provide the context of how it happened and what the results were. This is a great way to show that you truly understand what you did and the impact that it had. Aside from reinforcing your knowledge base to the reader, it can also help you stop using vague buzzwords and create a more focused, engaging personal statement.
Being concise is most important when you’re writing a personal statement as you don’t have lots of real estate in terms of word count. The personal statement should be informative but short enough that it grabs the reader’s attention during the screening stage of an application. If you’re applying for a job role, it should be around 4 – 5 sentences. If you’re applying for a university course or something similar, it can be much longer and go into more depth.
While the subject matter of the personal statement is much more important than how its formatted, it’s still important that it looks professional. Whether it’s part of your CV or a separate document, it should be consistent in tone and layout as this reinforces your professionalism. Always use the first person tone of voice as this guarantees a more personalised experience for readers.
Personal Statement Examples
Below is an example of a personal statement that you might use for a job application. This is a short version but provides an overall feeling of how you’d write a personal statement for a university application or something similar.
‘I am a motivated and highly experienced marketing manager with a background in email marketing and PPC marketing. I have a degree in Business Studies and over 10 years of experience in managing various elements of a marketing team as I’ve gone through my career. It’s my goal to design and open my own marketing agency one day.
I’m currently the marketing manager for a medium-sized team and over the last 12 months I’ve been an integral part in changing how we operate, transitioning to a more data-driven approach that has increased our sales team performance by 25%. I’ve done this by bringing both teams closer together and integrating new software that has made it easier to report on current campaigns and thus shape future activity.
I’m looking to take the next step in my career by becoming Head of Marketing at your business. I want to lead a larger team and learn more about the running of a business, as this experience will help me reach where I want to be. This aligns with your goals of expanding your marketing function and placing more focus on data-driven marketing to improve your overall sales performance.’