Personal statement: dos and don’ts

Unsure why your CV isn’t hitting the mark?

Your personal statement might hold the key. As the initial impression on a hiring manager, a strong personal statement can determine whether your CV gets a second look or ends up in the rejection pile. To ensure you make the right impression, here’s a comprehensive guide to personal statement dos and don’ts:

Do:

  1. Get straight to the point: A compelling personal statement is concise and to the point. Aim for brevity, keeping it within 100 to 200 words for maximum impact. (Note: University personal statements may require more extensive elaboration.)

  2. Answer key questions: Address who you are, what you bring to the role, and your career goals. Structure your statement around these questions to maintain focus and clarity throughout.

  3. Add value: Be specific and quantify your achievements whenever possible. Highlighting measurable accomplishments, such as ‘Increased revenue by x amount,’ enhances your credibility and adds value to your statement.

  4. Avoid clichés: Strive for originality and authenticity. Steer clear of overused CV clichés, such as ‘A great team player,’ and infuse your statement with personal insights to stand out from the crowd.

  5. Utilise the job description: Tailor your statement to align with the skills and attributes outlined in the job description. Incorporating relevant keywords and phrases instantly enhances your appeal as a candidate.

Other dos: Incorporate impactful words or phrases such as ‘successfully,’ ‘developed,’ ‘proven,’ ‘track-record,’ ‘experienced,’ and ‘delivering results.’

Don’t:

  1. Be too generic: Invest time in customising your statement for each position. A tailored approach yields a more effective CV, making the extra effort worthwhile in the long run.

  2. Focus solely on yourself: While it’s essential to highlight your attributes, emphasise what you can bring to the company. Showcase the value you offer and how you stand out among other candidates.

  3. Confuse it with your cover letter: Keep your personal statement concise and introductory. Reserve detailed explanations for your cover letter and employment history, focusing on grabbing the reader’s attention.

  4. Treat it as a list: Avoid listing every skill or attribute without context. Opt for meaningful insights over repetitive self-descriptions, ensuring your statement captivates the reader’s interest.

  5. Forget to read it aloud: Review your statement thoroughly, and ensure it flows well when read aloud. Eliminate spelling and grammar errors, as a polished presentation enhances its impact.

Crafting a compelling personal statement requires a blend of precision, authenticity, and clarity. By adhering to these dos and avoiding common pitfalls, you can create a standout personal statement that leaves a lasting impression on prospective employers.