There’s a lot of people with a lot of different opinions about personal statements on CVs. Some people love ‘em, others can’t stand ‘em. One thing that we can say for certain is that they’re pretty good to give a really brief snapshot of your experience, but they’re also an absolute nightmare to write. And that’s where we come in. Enter the GoThinkBig guide to personal statements on CVs.
Keep it brief
Your personal statement should definitely be no longer than 200 words. You’re not writing a novel. It’s just an outline of who you are, and why the person reading your CV should give you a job. Make sure you don’t ramble either. Often the temptation when writing a personal statement is to try and stretch it out to make use of the full 200 words, but actually you could have something that’s much more effective by just using 50 words. So choose your words carefully and don’t ramble.
I? Me? He/She?
It can be hard to decide whether to write your personal statement in the first person (using I and me) or in the third person (using your name and he/she). Honestly though, it doesn’t really matter. Both ways are acceptable – just make sure you stick with the same one the whole way through.
Another thing we’d advise is to not start your personal statement with ‘I’ or you name. There are better ways of writing it. Try something like: “As a recent graduate from Staffordshire University, Natalie…” or something like that. And definitely don’t use Natalie if your name isn’t Natalie.
But what should I actually say?
The personal statement basically exists to say three things: who you are, what you can offer, and your career aim.
The ‘who you are’ section should be a brief overview (or a ‘top line’ as our boss likes to say) of you and your experiences. This section will probably include phrases like ‘recent graduate’, or ‘student looking for work experience’, and ‘work experience at a wide range of places, including…’
The ‘what you can offer’ section should explain a little bit about your skills and expertise and why you’re the perfect person for the job, placement or apprenticeships. It’s a good idea to use specific examples of when you’ve made use of these skills during the experiences that you’ve mentioned in your ‘who you are’ section.
The ‘career aim’ section isn’t asking you where you see yourself in ten years’ time. It’s more about what you’re looking for right now. So something like ‘looking to secure a position in a media organisation’, or ‘looking to organise work experience to develop my skills’.
Hints and tips
Because this is the ultimate guide to writing a personal statement for your CV, we thought we’d give you a few more little tips to help you out:
Write it yourself. It sounds obvious, but there are some companies who will offer to write your personal statement for you (for a fee, of course). But don’t be tempted – although it can be hard to write, it’ll sound a lot more authentic and personal if you do it yourself. If you get really stuck, don’t be afraid to ask a friend to help you.
Avoid buzzwords. While buzzwords can be really important for online profiles (like LinkedIn, for example) so that you appear in search results, you don’t want to use them on your CV. It makes it sound like you’re just regurgitating something you’ve read somewhere else. So avoid words and phrases like ‘extensive experience’, ‘results-oriented’, ‘team player’, and ‘proven track record’ and be original.
Read it out loud. The only way you’re going to be able to tell if something reads well is if you hear it. So read it out loud to yourself and see if it makes sense and sounds ok. Maybe don’t do this in a public place though as you might look a little odd.
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