Also known as personal profiles they provide a blurb for your CV. Discover how to grab the attention of employers with an eye-catching personal statement
What is a personal statement?
A personal statement is a concise paragraph or summary, which details what you can bring to a job or company. It's also known as an opening statement or executive summary.
Sitting at the top of your CV, it's your opportunity to really sell yourself to employers and to highlight the relevant skills and experience you possess.
While effectively and succinctly convincing recruiters that you're a good fit for the role, a personal statement gives you the chance to show off your strengths and share your career goals.
Do I need to include one on my CV?
Traditionally, almost all CV types include a personal statement but in recent years there has been some debate about whether you need to include one.
Some believe that personal profiles provide an easily accessible overview of a candidate's ability, while others feel that personal statements are a waste of valuable space and time.
This latter belief is often the case with graduate CVs as some recruiters feel that those just stepping onto the career ladder don't have enough knowledge or experience to warrant a personal statement. Because of this, a graduate's personal profile runs the risk of being bland and generic, which is why some employers believe that they are best suited to more senior professionals CVs.
While your CV doesn't necessarily need a personal statement, studies show that on average employers spend as little as eight seconds looking at CVs. With this in mind a personal statement can give you an invaluable opportunity to make your application stand out to employers and to set yourself apart from the competition.
Kelly Biggs, careers adviser at the University of Portsmouth agrees. 'Students and graduates tend to include one as it can be a good tool for drawing attention to your unique selling points in a few short lines. A personal profile can have a positive impact if used correctly.'
Personal profiles are also useful if you're trying to break into a competitive industry such as advertising, media, creative arts or IT.
If you'd like to include a personal statement on your CV it might be best, as a graduate, to focus on your educational background and the career path you'd like to embrace. If you have relevant experiences use these to make your personal statement unique.
How do I structure my personal statement?
In terms of length, a CV personal profile should be no longer than 200 words. Aim for a few short sentences, four or five should do the job.
'Keep it factual and to the point,' advises Kelly. 'Avoid statements that aren't backed up by your CV.'
If you're struggling with what to write, break your personal statement down into three parts. First, introduce yourself and tell the employer who you are. For example, 'A recent graduate with a 2:1 in English literature from the Hillview University' or a 'Highly-skilled physiotherapist looking to progress into…'
'There's nothing wrong with using the introduction as a chance to tell the reader about the type of work you're looking for,' adds Kelly.
Next, detail what you can offer the company. Ask yourself why you're suited to the particular role and cover any relevant skills or experience. If you lack practical work experience instead draw attention to your academic achievements such as working for your university newspaper, which developed written communication, attention to detail and team working skills.
Conclude your personal statement by highlighting your career goals. For example, 'I am looking to start my career in the exciting world of publishing and to develop the skills learned through my university studies and internships.'
It's up to you how you present this information; there is no hard and fast rule. However, personal statements are generally displayed as a single paragraph, without a title or subheading. You'll need to keep it consistent with the rest of your CV formatting, meaning that the font size and type will need to be the same throughout your document.
Also, consider the voice you'd like to use. Personal statements can be written in either the first or third person but you'll need to maintain this voice throughout - don't switch between the two.
Take a look at how to write a CV.
How can I make it stand out to employers?
Jobs are competitive and employers are busy so to ensure that your CV stands out follow these simple rules:
- Tailor your personal statement (and CV in general) to each application.
- Be honest. Untruths are easy to uncover and lying on your CV is a criminal offence.
- Provide evidence of skills and experience but remember to keep it brief.
- Use the job description to help form your profile.
- Stick to the word limit.
- Check for spelling and grammar mistakes. The personal profile sits at the top of your CV so any errors will be immediately apparent.
- Read it aloud once you've finished writing to make sure it flows.
- Copy and paste from your cover letter.
- Include unnecessary personal information such as your age, marital status etc.
- Use clichés, slang or jargon.
- Overuse buzzwords.
- Include quotes from others.
- Ramble. Recruiters don't have time to read through waffle to get to the point.
Find out more about the top 7 CV mistakes.
CV personal statement examples
To help you get started take a look at the following CV personal profile examples.
'As a recent graduate from the University of Townville, with a 2:1 honours degree in marketing, I have undertaken internships at industry-leading agencies such as Beyond Imagination and Noah Freemans. These placements have allowed me to develop sector knowledge and gain hands on experience, as well as expand transferable skills such as commercial awareness, communication and negotiation and analytical skills. My career aim is to gain a role which allows me to further my expertise and take on increased responsibility at a market-leading digital marketing agency.'
'I am a highly motivated 2:1 forensic science graduate from Groveshire University, looking to secure a graduate position that enables me to use and develop my analytical, attention to detail and communication skills. I have gained relevant experience in both scientific and hospital laboratories, which allowed me to build on my problem solving, concentration and team working skills. My career goal is to assume a role that enables me to analyse and interpret forensic data and to eventually move into crime scene investigation.'
Remember; avoid copying and pasting ready-made answers. Instead use them as a guide to craft your own, tailored CV personal statement.