A critical aspect of creating an effective CV is writing a personal statement, sometimes called a profile or career summary, that enables the recruiter to quickly identify the strategic value you can add to their organisation. Your CV should be a self-marketing document aimed at persuading the recruiter to interview you – and your personal statement is a critical part of making this happen.
Many candidates struggle with writing the statement but it doesn't have to be a difficult as you may think. A well written statement can be between 50 and 200 words, although it is important not to ramble. Remember you always have your cover letter for interesting and engaging information.
It's important to read the job specification carefully and ensure not only that your skills and experience match but you reflect this in your statement. I am often asked whether a statement should be written in the first or third person and, while there are no definitive rules about this, my preference is always to write in the first person because the CV is all about you and your skillset. This doesn't mean that you have to add "I" at the beginning of each sentence, however. The reader knows it's about you so avoid this type of repetition and keep them engaged in your value and transferable skills.
For example an opening statement without the opening "I" could read:
As a highly-motivated and results orientated manager within the luxury hotel sector, I have a proven track record of providing exemplary levels of service to a broad range of guests, including VIPs and high-profile individuals.
This example reads naturally and flows for the reader, whereas if an "I" was inserted at the start, while not hugely different, it would read more like a list. As you move forward with additional information it then becomes difficult to break out of the format you have started.
As a general rule, it's best to break the statement into three sections:
Who you are
As recent graduate from Durham University, with a 2:1 honours degree in media communications, I have undertaken several internships within leading organisations such as Bertelsmann and Times Warner. These placements have enabled me to develop not only specific media industry experience, but also a valuable and transferable skill set in this fast-paced sector.
The above opening allowes the recruiter to quickly identify where you are coming from, that you have had industry experience (something that may be in the selection criteria) and core transferable skills. This in itself could be enough for your opening statement, but it can be expanded upon by adding some additional information.
What you can bring to the table
During placement with Bertelsmann, I worked in the media division contributing to projects – such as the award-winning China Max Documentary – and managed my own research, liaised with various divisions, formulated media reports and participated in group project meetings. Utilising excellent communication skills, I developed and maintained successful working relationships with both internal and external staff.
Your career aim
Looking to secure a position in a media organisation, where I can bring immediate and strategic value and develop current skillset further.
An example of a poorly written personal statement
Tim is a recent graduate from Durham University with a 2:1 honours degree in media communications. I have undertaken several internships within leading organisations. Tim is now looking to secure a position in a media organisation where I can develop my current skill set.
The mismatch of first and third person is not only confusing to the reader, but it almost sounds like a profile about different people. It also lacks specific detail and proof of what value the candidate could bring to the company.
Key points on writing a dynamic and interesting personal statement:
- • Get straight to the point: avoid lengthy descriptions and make your testimonies punchy and informative.
- • Keep it between 50 to 200 words maximum.
- • If you have enough space, use 1.5 line spacing to make you statement easier to read.
- • Match person and job specifications with well written copy.
- • Read your profile out loud to ensure it reads naturally.
- • Don't mix first and third person sentences.
Other essential resources
•Three excellent cover letter examples
•CV templates: graduates, career changers and ladder climbers
•What questions to ask at the end of your interview
•How to write a CV when you lack direct work experience
Elizabeth Bacchus is a consultant and founder of The Successful CV Company.
This content is brought to you by Guardian Professional. To get more content and advice like this direct to your inbox, sign up for our weekly update and careers ebook.
How to Write a Personal Statement for Job Searching
What's a personal statement, and why do you need one when you're job searching? A job search personal statement is a place to share why you're interested in a position and why you're a good match. In your statement, you can get a bit personal — use the space to share details and insights about yourself, and forge a connection with potential employers.
Read on for more information on how to write a successful personal statement that will further your job search.
Different Types of Personal Statements
A personal statement may be included within your curriculum vitae or CV. Much like an in-person elevator speech or the summary section within a resume, a CV personal statement highlights your objectives and abilities. Since a CV may stretch over several pages, this allows you to showcase must-see details from within the document. You'll want to write just a few sentences for a personal statement in a CV.
Or, you may need to write a personal statement as part of a job application. This helps hiring managers separate out candidates applying for every job in a category (e.g., putting in applications for any "production manager" position) from more engaged candidates, who are interested in the company. Write something that matches the application's requested word count; if one isn't provided, aim for 250 to 500 words.
Regardless of where it appears, your goal in a personal statement is the same: try to connect your background and goals with the job at hand.
What Should You Include?
In your personal statement, you want to make a connection between yourself and the position. Think of this as a three-part process:
- Share some details about yourself. Who are you? You may say things like "Highly seasoned production manager" or "Recent graduate with honors."
- Highlight your most relevant experience and talents and share what you'd bring to the company. Think: "Strong, speedy writer capable of crafting ad copy that engages and enchants." or "In my years as a project manager, I've never let a detail slip; I've won internal awards for best team player. My projects release on time, and match requested specifications."
- Provide a bit of information on your career goals. For instance, "Looking for a staff writer position" or "Eager for placement in a mid-sized firm as an audit supervisor" or "Seeking a position as a production assistant to further develop my skills in television and put my time management abilities to the test."
While it's called a personal statement, avoid over-sharing. Only include information that's relevant to the job at hand. That is, if you're applying for a position as an accountant, no need to mention your goal of becoming a staff writer at a magazine.
Remember, the main goal for your personal statement is for it to further your job search.
Tips for Writing a Job Search Personal Statement
Your personal statement should always be personalized — it's a mistake to reuse the same personal statement for every job you apply for. You don't need to write the personal statement from scratch each time — just make tweaks so it reflects the needs of the company and the qualities requested in the job description.
Here are more tips for writing a successful job search personal statement:
Know your audience: Target your personal statement to a specific job position and company. Spend a bit of time researching the company to get a sense of what they're looking for in a candidate.
Decode the job description so you understand the company needs in a candidate. Take notes on where your qualifications are a good match for the position.
Make some lists: What have you done that employers should know about? Make a list of your accomplishments (and keep in mind that while splashy awards are important, so too is reorganizing a chaotic system that gives everyone hives to make it user-friendly). Brainstorm a list of your talents as well as your soft, communication, and general skills.
Go long on your first draft—then cut it down: Hopefully, your time spent thinking about the company needs and what you have to offer has given you plenty of fodder to get started writing your personal statement. At this point, don't worry about length; write as much you want. Then, go back and edit—aim for a few sentences for a CV, and around 250 to 500 words in an application.
Cut unnecessary words and clichés that don't add meaning. Instead, use action verbs. While it's fine to write in the first person, avoid overusing the word "I." Try to vary the composition of sentences.
Make it targeted: You have lots of skills and interests and work experience. What you want to emphasize in one position is not necessarily what you want to highlight in another. If you are qualified as both a writer and an editor, choose which talent to call out in your personal statement—and make it the one that's most relevant to the job you want.
Examples of Personal Statements
Here are some examples of personal statements to use as inspiration:
- I'm a seasoned accountant with CPA and CMA certification and more than 10 years of experience working in large firms. Oversaw audits and a department of ten. My positive attitude and detail-oriented spirit helps ensure that month-end financial wrap-ups go smoothly and without any inaccuracies or fire drills. Looking for a leadership role in my next position.
- Recent college graduate with freelance writing experience at major print magazines as well as online outlets and the college newspaper. A strong writer, who always meets deadlines, and matches the company tone and voice. In search of a staff writer position and eager to learn the magazine trade from the ground up.
- I'm an award-winning designer in children's clothes looking to make the transition to adult athletic year. At Company X, I developed a new line for toddlers and traveled to Asia to oversee production. I'm a fast learner and am eager for a new challenge in the growing field of athleisure.