How to make it personal. Writing a personal statement

For potential employers, sifting through CVs is both time-consuming and overwhelming. In the 10 seconds they attribute to your perfectly crafted CV, they look for key words that show your relevance and experience to the role.

This is where your personal statement plays the most important role in your job application. It gets you standing out from the crowd and ensuring the employer puts everyone else’s CV down and concentrates on yours.  In just a few sentences, you can showcase your ‘must see’ details that make you the most viable candidate.

What should go into your Personal Statement?

Your statement needs to be directly relevant to the job or type of jobs you are applying for, so you are describing yourself as their ideal candidate.  Don’t be tempted to list everything you have done, learnt or achieved rather make each point completely pertinent to the job.

Show you have an appropriate professional background and be explicit about relevant knowledge, skills and experience you have gained.  This demonstrates you have the type of approach and personality they say they are after.

Your personal statement needs to be a maximum of two paragraphs, with two or three carefully crafted sentences in each.  Or if you prefer, it’s acceptable to put your statement in bullet point format. This ensures it is kept concise, relevant and easy to read.

What’s in a label?

Make it clear to the recruiter who you are professionally.  Instead of being an ‘experienced professional ‘or ‘hard-working individual’ use a title, ideally the same as the job you are applying for i.e. if they are looking for an Office Manager, call yourself that rather than ‘experienced administrator’. You can adjust your title to make it relevant to the role you are applying for as long as you can justify the skills and responsibilities of your previous job have been similar.

Big up your creds

When it is relevant, include any vocational qualifications or professional memberships in your statement i.e. CIMA qualified accountant or The Law Society.  Be specific about any relevant sector experience or specialist knowledge and training you have undertaken.

Lets talk numbers

You will need to quantify your experience in the particular area they are recruiting for, along with any specific sector experience you have i.e. ‘experienced Office Manager with over 10 years’ experience within the Banking sector’.

This quickly tells the recruiter if you have the depth of background and sector knowledge they are after.

Mind the gap

Your statement is where you should explain any gaps in your career.  Put the gaps into context with explanations of what else you did i.e. lived Internationally, completed volunteer work or retrained.  Make it positive, and relevant.

Avoid the clichés

Give potential employers a sense of what you may be like as a candidate. Avoid clichés such as ‘team-player’ or ‘excellent communicator’ if you don’t have the specific evidence to back them up.  If the job advertisement requests specific personality traits, then show how you meet this; ‘ability to work under pressure as shown by my ability to work to tight print deadlines’.

Link it together

Identify similarities between your previous experience and the role you are applying for.  This could be agile working, a similar customer base or the same sector i.e. ‘knowledge of the recruitment industry from my work with ABC Ltd’.

Introduce adjectives

Make sure you litter your statement with positive adjectives such as ‘strong’, ‘determined’ and ‘skilled ‘to show not only can you do the job, but you can do it exceptionally well.

Some examples

Example 1

  • Sales Manager within the retail industry with over 10 years’ expertise in the FMCG sector.
  • Can quickly identify your clients’ needs and provide a tailored service, increasing the pipeline to meet your operational objectives
  • Strong track record in driving new customer leads, increasing sales revenue, client-focused account management and people development
  • Created and implemented a 3-year sales and marketing plan, achieving the target result of £3m

Example 2

Driven Retail Manager with over ten years’ experience in the fashion industry. Proven track record of success, including managing the top performing store in the region, and having the lowest staff turnover rate of all UK outlets. Currently out of work due to company closure, looking for the right opportunity to bring my expertise to a well-established fashion brand in an upper management position.

Example 3

A highly motivated and experienced PA, currently looking to resume my professional career after dedicating the last five years to raising a family. Excellent admin skills, thorough knowledge of all Microsoft Office programs, as well as proficiency in minute-taking and extensive experience liaising with clientsAfter volunteering for one day a week with a local charity to refresh my skills, now fully committed to continuing my career on a full-time basis.

Example 4

Reliable Executive Assistant with excellent organisational skills and proven track record building positive relationships with stakeholders, clients and colleagues at all levels in an organisation.

Possessing over 10 years’ secretarial, admin and PA experience within the legal field. Seeks a challenging and varied position that will enable me to capitalise on my professional experience, with opportunities for personal and professional growth.