5 tips for writing a great personal statement

Writing an effective personal statement for your CV is easier than you might think. Here are five tips to help you navigate the process:

When was the last time you produced a personal statement? If it was in support of your university applications all those years ago, then you may be missing a trick in the jobs market.

Despite their value to applicants, personal statements are an often-overlooked aspect of CV-writing. Including a brief career summary - one which briefly outlines the value you can offer to an employer - can strengthen your job application and help persuade hiring managers you are worth interviewing.

Yet all too often, candidates forget to include a personal statement on their CV, or they are unaware of their potential benefits. This passage of text should only take a few minutes to write, but it can have a bearing on the success or failure of your application.

Keep things concise

The same principles apply to personal statement writing as to the production of your overall CV. The hiring manager won't have long to consider your application so you need to make an immediate positive impression. This means keeping things brief.

A well-written personal statement would typically be between 50 and 150 words - or perhaps 200 at a push. This section of your CV is an opportunity to tie in your achievements and experience to your practical skills and motivations. However, if you waffle on for too long it will not get read - and in all likelihood, nor will the rest of the CV.

If you want to elaborate on certain points, do so in your cover letter, where there is a little more freedom. when writing a personal statement, you need to get straight to the point.

Ensure consistency

Consistency is important in your personal statement on two levels. Firstly, you need to ensure the information you include matches that provided in your CV and cover letter. If these documents have been produced at different points in time, it might be that certain details are out of date or no longer relevant. Before submitting your application, you need to ensure everything matches up.

It's also important to ensure consistency of style and tone. You may only be writing a few sentences of text, but there is scope to make a mess of things if you don't take care. You need to decide whether to write in the first person - 'I' - or third person - your name - and stick to this throughout your personal statement. Switching between voices is not only confusing, but it looks sloppy and may cast doubt on your writing skills.

Include salient information

Choose the information you include carefully as you only have a few lines to make an impression. It's important that your personal statement is tailored to the job in question, and highlights details on your CV that make you a strong candidate for the advertised role. The hiring manager needs to establish who you are, where you are coming from - in terms of experience and future goals - and what value you can offer to their organisation. Anything else can be included in your cover letter, documented in another part of your CV, or even saved for interview.

Consider the formatting

Your personal statement needs to look like it is a key component of your CV, rather than a few lines of text parachuted in as an afterthought. As such, the font, text size and paragraph formatting need to match the rest of the document. The statement should be positioned appropriately near the head of the page, where it is easily accessible and will be read first. If you're including a personal statement, this is your 'big sell'.

Proofread

Of course, you also need to check for typos and any grammatical errors. Ensure these are eliminated before you submit your CV to any employer. If you're not entirely confident about your writing skills, ask somebody else to check things through and give a second opinion. Sending in an error-strewn CV and statement is little better than not applying in the first place.