What is a Personal Statement: Definitions and Examples

If you’re creating a CV, a vital part of that is a personal statement. Having an effective personal statement is a great way of highlighting your suitability for a role and why an employer should choose you.

While writing a personal statement may initially seem overwhelming, it’s the ideal way to stand out during the initial screening process and can help you position yourself as the best candidate.

In this article, we fully explore ‘what is a personal statement’ as well as what to include in it and how to start writing.

What is a personal statement?

As the first section of your CV, the personal statement should provide recruiters with an overview of your career development and why you’re best suited for the role. It’s a short paragraph that will detail your core skills, key achievements and the evidence to back up your claims. You may sometimes see the personal statement referred to as a personal summary or a ‘personal profile’.

When you start writing a personal statement, the best approach is to break it up into several core parts that then link together to create a cohesive read. Also remember, a personal statement should be tailored to the role that you’re applying for if possible, as this can ensure that you’re highlighting how your own skills fit elements of the job description.

Utilising this approach means that you’re always staying relevant and writing a statement that maximises your potential for a successful application.

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What does a personal statement include?

When you first start creating your personal statement, the best approach to take is to consider several key elements, write them out and then combine them into a cohesive paragraph. This ensures that you’re covering exactly what you need to while ensuring you’re covering things that employers want to see. The key components to include are generally:

An introduction to you and your career

Any previous roles that you’ve had

The core skills that you’ve learned in previous roles

Your career objectives and how they match company objectives

If you can meet each of these points, you can help an employer understand your suitability at a glance – ideal during the screening process. This is useful for employers that are recruiting for competitive roles, where an employer is potentially viewing hundreds of applications at once.

What to avoid in a personal statement

While you want to make sure that your personal statement is comprehensive, there are also several elements that you want to avoid. The first – and most important – thing to avoid is any unnecessary information. If you include irrelevant information, you’re taking up space for more relevant content that can sell you better.

At each point in your personal statement, you should be focused on describing elements that connect with the job description. Remember that you have the entire CV to mention more in-depth experience or skills – your personal statement is the place to provide an overview.

Similarly, avoid using any overly-descriptive writing and passive voice. Use active descriptors and be as concise as possible.

How to start a personal statement

While writing a personal statement can seem overwhelming at first, if you separate the section into smaller chunks, it’s much easier to get going. Consider the following steps as a way of starting the process:

Related: How to Write a Personal Statement

Break the statement down into several sections

Although your personal statement is a complete paragraph, it’s easier to start by breaking it down into smaller elements and approaching each part as an individual project. This way you can ensure that you’ve covering the right information and creating a concise statement. 

A secondary benefit of this approach is that you can make sure each section flows for readers. While your personal statement has to be tailored for the role you’re applying for, there are fundamental elements to consider:

Past responsibilities, experience and skills

Qualifications and educational achievements

Your personal mission, values, goals

Utilise any relevant information

Once you have your elements laid out, you want to see how you can tie your experiences and career skills to the job description for the role. For instance, if you had a large impact in your last role, see how that fits with the current job description and if there is any statistical evidence that provides context. 

Similarly, if you have educational qualifications or honors, include these as well. As long as they’re relevant and provide contextual evidence, you’re in a good place. 

Use templates or examples

If you’re struggling to start your personal statement, there are plenty of examples and templates out there that can help you. These templates typically provide you with an idea of what to write and how to separate each section effectively.

Related: 5 Personal Statement Examples You Can Use In Your Own

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