How to Perfect your CV's Personal Statement

A personal statement is a short paragraph which gives employers a quick overview of you. It's at the very top of you CV so it needs to be good. We've answered 8 common questions to help you perfect your personal statement.

1. How long should my personal statement be?

Whatever you do, don't babble. Your personal statement should be between 50 and 200 words. Written well, less is certainly more. Don't confuse this type of statement with the one you write as part of a UCAS application, it's very different (and thankfully much, much shorter).

2. How much detail should I include in my personal statement?

Hold back on the specific details. The rest of your CV will allow you to go into the nitty gritty bits of information. You simply want to engage an employer so that they are interested enough to keep reading. 

3. How do I structure my personal statement?

When it comes to a personal statement, it's all about the structure. It's easiest to split it into three sections:

  • Who you are and what role you're looking for. E.g. An experienced volunteer/first year university student/marketing graduate looking for a challenging role in a tech start-up/marketing /finance.
  • What you can bring to the role. Check the person specification for the role and demonstrate you have the skills they are looking for. E.g. In my last year of university I used my creativity and team work skills to organise the university summer ball which was a great success
  • What you want to achieve. Think short term, what's your next step on the ladder to greatness? E.g. I'm looking to build on my knowledge of marketing and office administration skills in a professional environment

4. Which tense should I write my personal statement in?

You can use either first or third person just make sure you stick to one. If you opt for first person be careful not to use I too often or it'll sound like a list. Try restructuring your sentences. E.g. As a volunteer at a charity shop I...

5. Do I need to write a different personal statement for different job applications?

This is really important and the answer is yes. If you're applying for a role in media but your personal statement is all about your degree in Finance you're not likely to get shortlisted. Make it relevant to the job you are applying for. 

6. How formal should a personal statement be?

Your statement should present you in the most professional manner possible without pretending to be someone else entirely. Avoid slang and abbreviations and write in full sentences. 

7. Do I need to include examples in my personal statement? 

Rather than simply listing the skills you have, give examples of where you have applied those skills. E.g. My role as captain of a sports team has helped me develop strong team work, leadership and communications skills

8. How do I make sure my personal statement makes sense?

As with most things, check your spelling and grammar first. Then, read your statement aloud to make sure it reads naturally and not as a list. 

By Stephanie Sowersby
Posted on 20 February 2015
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