You have a boatload of relevant experience, skills, and references to boot. And yet, you keep sending out CVs...and you keep sending out CVs. Nothing comes back. How could that be? Is the world full of overqualified cyborgs? No. The bad news—There might be a problem with your CV personal statement.
What is a personal statement? Also called a professional profile, career profile, CV summary, it’s the paragraph that should come atop every CV, right under the contact details header. If your CV was the first page of a newspaper, the personal statement is the headline. Let’s make sure it’s one that pulls people in, not one that makes them flip the page.
We have seen thousands of personal statement examples. Those that get the interviews and jobs, and those that don’t. Here is a formula that will allow you to succeed in most scenarios.
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CV personal statement examples — the experienced employee
You have a few years of experience in your chosen field and some achievements. It’s not enough. You want more. As you should. Let’s make your achievements pop, let your employer see what you can do for them, and get your foot in the door. You’ll blow it off the hinges in the interview, I’m sure.
[Power Adjective] [Your Job Title] with over [X] years of experience [Power Verb][Your Main Responsibility that you excel in]. At [Previous Employer], [Power Verb][Your Most Impressive Achievement], which resulted in [The Benefit To Your Past Employer]. I am ready to [Promise / Offer To Your New Employer].
That doesn’t yet make a whole lot of sense. Here’s how it looks in practice:
Decisive Project Manager with over 11 years of experience delivering commercial software solutions from scratch, on budget, and on brief. At ProSoftware, managed and stimulated a team of 14 developers and designers to deliver projects worth a total of £7m in 2019, which resulted in my employer being able to expand and invest, reaching new markets and clients in Asia. I am ready to do the same at EZSoftware, and help you deliver the world-class projects you have are renowned for—on budget, and on schedule.
This CV personal statement answers a few very important questions for the employer:
- Who are you? — Decisive Project Manager with over 11 years of experience delivering commercial software solutions from scratch, on budget, and on brief.
- What do you know? What can you do? — At ProSoftware, managed and stimulated a team of 14 developers and designers to deliver projects worth a total of £7m in 2019, which resulted in my employer being able to expand and invest, reaching new markets and clients in Asia.
- What can you do FOR ME? — I am ready to do the same at EZSoftware, and help you deliver the world-class projects you have are renowned for—on budget, and on schedule.
The answers to those questions are all that any recruiters could ask for from a CV personal statement. Guess what? It’s also more than they’re going to be getting from other candidates.
It doesn’t matter if your job is serving food, designing bridges, or flying helicopters. This formula works, because it speaks to the needs of the employer. The need to know the answers to those 3 (well, 4) questions.
CV personal statement template — fresh graduate
You might be wondering what to do if you don’t have the impressive experience of the above example. Perhaps you are fresh out of school, and this is your first job after graduation. Don’t fret. All we have to do is adapt our formula a little.
[Power Adjective] [University Name] [Degree Name] title, specializing in [Your Main Area of Study / Interest / Skill You Developed in Private]. My educational background combined with [Transferable Skill / Skill You Developed in Private] will allow me to [Argument to Hire You]. This will also let me slot into your team seamlessly, and help you [Promise / Offer To Your New Employer].
Here is the fresh graduate CV profile in practice:
Meticulous Keele University Sociology graduate specialising in performing quantitative research. My educational background combined with customer-facing experience gained in a countryside newsagent’s allows me to reach every social group effectively when performing research. This in unison with STATA and R Statistical Language skills I developed completing private projects will allow me to slot into your team seamlessly, and bring a fresh perspective and eagerness to learn to your cutting-edge social research at the Office for National Statistics.
Notice how the language and order shifted a little bit to adapt to the situation. Remember, this is only a blueprint. As long as you are answering the employer’s most important 3 (yes, 4!) questions, and using powerful language (more on that later), you are in the lead.
Notice how working in a countryside shop suddenly became relevant to a social researcher position? Transferable skills add a whole new dimension to a fresh graduate. Most will just regurgitate boring stuff about their degree in their CV profile.
Examples of personal statements — CV lacking experience
Perhaps you are changing careers, or simply don’t have much relevant experience or qualifications. Guess what. It’s fine, as long as you are answering the employer’s important questions. Again, think about transferable skills that you can carry across.
Think about what is important for the employer. Scour the job ad for employer requirements, and plug those into your CV personal statement. Here’s how:
[Power Adjective] aspiring [Your Job Title] devoted to [Employer Requirement]. [Power Adjective like Competent, etc.] in [Transferable Skill], having [Power Verb like Made, Set Up, Compiled, Constructed, Developed, etc.] [Your Achievement / Argument to Hire You]. I am ready to [Promise / Offer To Your New Employer].
And here’s how that could work:
Determined aspiring Construction Worker devoted to developing good relationships with clients and upholding safety standards. Competent in timber construction, having constructed 7 sheds and 1 carport for myself and family. I am ready to learn new skills in a professional environment and give Timberstruction my initiative and energy.
Again, as long as you’re answering those employer questions, you’re in the clear. Let’s look in more detail how to most effectively answer those questions.
How to Write a Personal Statement for a Job
As we established, there are some key questions you must answer in your CV profile. Here are a few tips for each question to make sure you sell yourself as well as possible.
1. Introduce yourself. Answer “who are you?”
- Always start with a power adjective. Find a list lower down.
- If you have years of experience, always describe them as ‘over [X] years of experience’, or ‘[X]+ years of experience’. It’s a technically true statement. Don’t stretch the truth or lie.
- Always connect your experience to your ability to fulfil a key employee requirement with a power verb.
2. Show what you know and what you can do
- If you worked in a relevant role, refer to it.
- Connect with a power verb, and go into your most notable achievement, or the thing that will impress your new employer the most.
- Explain how that benefited your past employer — to allow them to imagine what you can do for them.
- Use numbers to quantify your achievements and give a better idea of just how impressive you are.
3. Describe what you can do for them
- Don’t be needy, desperate, pushy, cocky, or silly.
- Be confident, starting with a phrase like ‘I am ready to’.
- Scour the job ad for what’s most important to them, what the most important characteristic of the role is, or scour the website for their values / big projects.
- Connect it with your biggest achievement you just described to show you can really walk the walk, not just talk the talk.
How long should a personal statement be
Your personal statement should be between 50 and 150 words in length (or 3 to 6 lines of your CV). It should be concise and to the point.
CV personal profile power words
Here is the promised cheat sheet of powerful words that radiate skill, competence and confidence. You should use them all through your CV and cover letter, not just in your CV profile. First, here’s a list of words to delete immediately:
Words that make recruiters sick to the stomach
- Go Getter
- Go-To Person
- Hard Working
- In Charge Of
- Outside the Box
- Responsible For
- Team Player
Every recruiter has seen each one of those at least 10,000 times. They show lack of invention and imagination, as well as lack of confidence.
Here are some power adjectives to kick off your CV personal profile:
How to start your CV personal statement: best power adjectives
Read them all a few times and decide which one is best for your industry, job type, experience and personality. Anything’s better than ‘reliable’!
Best power verbs to link your CV personal statement
So, how do we say ‘worked on’ or ‘did’ in an actually impressive manner? Here’s how!
- Reduced / Decreased / Saved (costs, etc.)
You really can’t go wrong with those.
Common CV personal profile mistakes
Your CV Personal Statement will have your CV lining bins and ‘Deleted’ email folders all around the country if you:
- Use empty statements like ‘reliable and organised’ or ‘detail-oriented’.
- Describe boring job duties instead of impressive achievements.
- Are ambiguous, writing things like ‘trained colleagues’ instead of ‘Trained 20+ employees on the new accounting software.’
- Send identical CVs and do not adjust every CV personal statement to the specific employer.
- Only copy and paste from your job description.
- Come off as needy, desperate, cocky or boastful.
- Overuse ‘I’, ‘me’, and ‘my’.
- Make spelling or grammar mistakes.
- Write too much.
- Don’t write enough.
Those are the basics that you should fix before sending out your CV.
Does that answer all your questions on how to write a personal statement for a job? Did you enjoy our CV personal statement examples? Find our power word cheat sheets helpful? Got more questions? Let us know in a comment!