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Andrew Arkley

How to Really Sell Yourself in Your Personal Statement

Sell yourself

The personal statement is often considered the most challenging part of a CV to write.

The perfect personal statement should succinctly communicate your best and most relevant qualities, skills and experience, whilst giving the reader an idea of who you are.

It should draw attention to the best parts of your CV and perhaps offer information you’ve left out elsewhere.

A well-written personal statement is a great way to add impact to your CV. Our guide explains how to really sell yourself in your personal statement.

Why have a personal statement?

Sometimes called a profile or career summary, the personal statement sits at the top of your CV just under your name and contact details.

Your personal statement gives you the opportunity to introduce your CV as if you were presenting it in person.

It enables you to distil the most important elements from your CV and draw the reader’s attention to them immediately.

Essentially, it’s an opportunity to say, ‘Look at this! This is what makes me perfect for the job!’ As such, it’s an opportunity not to be missed.

It’s easiest to tackle your personal statement after you’ve put together the rest of your CV. That way you can draw on the best bits of the information you’ve already compiled.

What to include in your personal statement

A good way to structure your personal statement is to break it down into sections:

Who you are – start off with a sentence or two summing up who you are in terms of education, experience and interests.

What you can offer – this is where you can talk about specific skills, knowledge and experience that fit the job you’re applying for. What have you achieved so far? What makes you an unusual or attractive candidate?

Your career aim – finish with a line or two about the next steps you’re looking to take. What sort of role, organisation or challenges would be right for you?

Keep it concise

The best personal statements are succinct – a large block of text isn’t likely to hold a reader’s interest.

Stick to a maximum of five or six lines. If it’s any longer than that, it’s probably too complicated.

One way to write concisely and effectively is to use the ‘smart’ third person. Here’s an example:

Managed a team of ten volunteers, coordinated busy performance schedule and controlled audience flow in and out of multiple venues.

Starting the sentence with a verb makes it dynamic and energetic, whilst missing out the pronoun (‘managed’ rather than ‘I managed’) keeps it short and punchy.

The ‘smart’ third person enables you to convey information succinctly without sounding too formal or too personal.

Cut out the clichés

Recruiters see hundreds of CVs, and all too often they see personal statements riddled with the same tired old clichés. Here’s an example:

An enthusiastic and hard-working team player with extensive marketing experience. Possesses excellent communication skills and strong attention to detail. Thrives when working under pressure and relishes the opportunity to solve problems.

This is exactly the sort of personal statement recruiters see time and time again. Although it’s fairly well-written, it offers almost no information.

It’s easy to claim you’re a team player with excellent communication skills – lots of people do. But without evidence to back up those claims, they’re just empty words.

Instead of blandly listing your qualities, include specific skills and experience which demonstrate that you have those qualities.

Words like ‘enthusiastic’ and ‘hard-working’ are used too often to have any impact. If you want to be noticed, try to offer recruiters something unique.

Personalise it

It’s important to take time and care over your personal statement. This means tailoring it to each and every individual job application.

You don’t have to completely overhaul the whole thing each time – but highlight particular skills and experience based on keywords in the job description.

This will show recruiters not only that you’re the right person for the job, but that you really want the job as well.

If you’d like a professionally written, tailor-made CV, get in touch with us today – we’d be delighted to help!

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