Make Your CV’s Personal Statement Convince Recruiters to Read On
The saying that ‘first impressions count’ is so true when it comes to your CV. And your personal statement is the first impression a CV will make on a recruiter. With recruiters spending just 6 seconds scanning an entire CV, it’s clear that the opening paragraph has to be as strong as possible.
What should you include in a CV?
Each CV you create, including the personal statement, should be customised to suit the position you’re seeking. As a starting point, every CV should include:
- Up-to-date contact details.
- A personal statement.
- Employment history, listed in reverse chronological order.
How would you describe yourself in a CV?
Your CV is your chance to show that you understand the role in question and have the skills and qualifications it calls for. Describe yourself in a CV by:
- Using positive language throughout.
- Highlighting relevant achievements using concrete facts, figures, and examples.
- Focusing on what you can do, and not calling attention to the things you can’t.
Take a look at our CV builder and you’ll see CV examples that set all of this out in practice. By studying these examples and working with our CV builder you’ll be able to create a job-winning CV personal statement to make you stand out from the crowd every time you apply.
How to Write a Personal Statement: 10 Top Tips
Every job has hundreds of applicants - it’s a competitive market! Stand out from the crowd with a strong personal statement and impress recruiters from the start.
Your personal statement has just 200 words to capture who you are, and what you could bring to the position in question. And it also has to show that you have a firm understanding of the job you’re applying for, as well as the wider industry.
Getting your personal statement right means combining the appropriate facts with positive language and a clear structure. Here are our 10 top tips for getting it done:
Sit down and ask yourself what you could bring to the role. Write down anything that comes into your head, no matter how irrelevant it might seem. Even an idea that you initially discard could lead to other ideas that will help to build an effective CV personal statement.
Look at examples
Take a look at the examples of personal statements you find in our CV builder. These have been created by professionals and will give you a clear idea of the kind of structure to use, and the level of detail recruiters will be looking for.
Consider using a CV builder
Designed by experts to make the process of writing a personal statement fast and simple, our CV builder gives you a real competitive advantage. As well as CV templates, you get tips and advice, and even examples of text that you can use to build a strong personal statement.
Keep it short
Your CV personal statement has to capture a recruiter’s attention during the vital first 6 seconds. Anything longer than 200 words is likely to lead to your CV being rejected. If you can’t get your personal statement down to this length, then look again at the structure and the information you’re including.
Use the keywords
The keywords mentioned in the job description will be vital if your CV is to get past an ATS (Applicant Tracking System). This is automated filtering software that many companies now use to scan every CV. Recruiters will also be looking for these keywords, so ensure that they are evident in your personal statement.
Your CV personal statement is intended to create a completely positive first impression, and language plays a huge role in this. Opt for positive, upbeat words like innovative, reliable, and proactive. Highlight your achievements and abilities. This is your chance to make the recruiter want to explore the rest of your CV, so focus solely on the positive.
Review, review, review
Create a word cloud of the most vital keywords from the job ad. Then check your personal statement, ticking those words off one by one as they appear. If you’ve missed what might be a vital keyword or a necessary requirement, rework your statement to include it.
Using a CV builder is one way of making sure that your personal statement matches the rest of your CV. If your personal statement mentions sales skills, for example, but your CV doesn’t offer any specific examples, the recruiter will conclude that one of them is mistaken.
Check your CV
A single spelling mistake could make a recruiter reject your CV. Check and re-check the spelling and grammar multiple times, and don’t rely on spell checking software, as mistakes can sometimes sneak through. Reading it aloud is another effective way of checking that the grammar you’ve used ‘feels’ correct.
Don’t get too personal
You don’t have to include personal details such as your age, marital status and the number of children you have. The recruiter won’t care, and it’s actually illegal for UK employers to discriminate on these grounds. You’ve only got enough space to highlight relevant information, so don’t add these unnecessary details.
20 of the UK’s Most Popular CV Personal Statement Examples
Your personal statement is like the opening scene of a film or a starter at a restaurant. It has to be impactful and enjoyable enough to make sure that the person on the receiving end – in this case a recruiter – wants to see more.
Your personal statement has to highlight your own skills and achievements at the same time as showing that you understand the demands of the job in question. Browse some of our job-winning UK personal statements to get a feel for what you might write:
Law personal statement
An effective law personal statement will outline your qualifications for the post and your experience of working in a specific field of the law. It will also emphasise the personal skills you can bring to the role, and will use the kind of language a recruiter would expect from a legal professional.
Graphic design personal statement
Although graphic design is all about visuals, your graphic design personal statement is all about the words you use. It will highlight the most impressive graphic design project you’ve delivered and explain your strong background with qualifications and experience. It will also capture your creative passion for the field of graphic design.
Nursing personal statement
In the first place, a nursing personal statement needs to point out that you have the qualifications and experience the role is looking for. Secondly, it has to use language and examples which highlight your commitment to caring for other people, and your understanding of the empathy that good nursing requires.
University personal statement
A university personal statement should focus on ambition and potential. Specific qualifications will be listed elsewhere on your CV, but this is your chance to convince the reader that you are the kind of person who could benefit the most from the opportunity being offered.
Engineering personal statement
Since engineering is about precision and delivery, your personal statement should reflect this. Use professional language and highlight the kind of projects you’ve worked on to date, as well as the ambitions you have for your engineering career in the future.
Accounting and finance personal statement
The world of accounting and personal finance is a place where the smallest mistake could cost millions, so make sure your personal statement is completely fault-free. It should set out your professional standing, key achievements, and understanding of the role in language that is clear and precise.
Mechanical engineering personal statement
Writing a mechanical engineering personal statement is like building a smooth-running machine. The parts of that machine are the facts you include, such as what you’ve achieved to date and how you’d like to move on in the future. The oil that makes it run is the positive language you us. Avoid a breakdown by not mentioning anything negative.
Good personal statement
A good personal statement is one that makes the recruiter want to read more. It should reflect your professional attitude, understanding of the industry and positive approach to the role. It should also include enough highlights in terms of skills and achievements to make the recruiter explore further.
Business management personal statement
A business management personal statement needs to include the keywords you’ll find when you look through the job description and ad. These are what the recruiter will be looking for at first glance. In addition, it should highlight your personal strengths by mentioning the strongest business management achievement you can name.
Social work personal statement
The field of social work is one in which applicants will have to display the necessary training and qualifications, and the right attitude. Your personal statement needs to include both of these, setting out the facts of your work history and your understanding of the demands of the sector, as well as the positive impact you want to have.
Business personal statement
A business personal statement will have to highlight your key business achievements with relevant statistics. Don’t say ‘ran a profitable business’ when you could say ‘Ran a business with a profit of £250,000 in the first quarter of 2018’. It also needs to talk positively about your plans for the future.
Architecture personal statement
As with any building, an architecture personal statement has to be planned in great detail. Summarise your professional status in as few words as possible, and reference the architectural project that you feel is most relevant to the position in question. The recruiter should be able to see that you’re a qualified professional with an understanding of this particular job.
Teaching assistant personal statement
Being a teaching assistant is as much about attitude as anything else. Mention the qualifications the position is asking for in your personal statement, but focus on your desire to work with children and have a positive impact on their lives.
Politics personal statement
A politics personal statement needs to be written in a manner that shows you believe in making a difference. It should demonstrate your ability to communicate clearly and argue a case, and needs to convince the recruiter that you understand, and passion for, the world of politics.
Chemical engineering personal statement
Successfully applying for a role in chemical engineering requires a personal statement that demonstrates you have the qualifications and the professional approach required in this highly specific industry. It should use the kind of technical keywords mentioned in the job description, at the same time as capturing your passion for the field.
Occupational therapy personal statement
Working in occupational therapy means having the qualifications to understand the therapy required, and the empathy needed to deliver it to people in an effective manner. Your personal statement needs to capture both of these, using language that emphasises your understanding of the important role that occupational therapy can play in a patient’s journey.
Teacher personal statement
More than most other personal statements, those written for a teaching position have to be free from spelling and grammar mistakes. As well as showcasing your professionalism and the qualifications you have, your teacher personal statement should also express your passion for teaching, and commitment to sharing knowledge and achieving positive outcomes.
Civil engineering personal statement
A civil engineering personal statement should include a broad account of the position you’ve attained in the field, and the skills you’ll be able to bring to the post. It should also be written in professional language, using the keywords that a recruiter or an ATS will be looking for.
Marketing personal statement
Marketing is all about results, and your marketing personal statement should show that you understand this. Choose one particularly good result to mention, and highlight it with supporting facts and figures. Use keywords taken from the job ad and positive language to highlight your ambitions for the future.
Customer service personal statement
A customer service personal statement needs to demonstrate that you understand what working with the public requires. Mention your experience at the same time as emphasising the positive attitude you bring to interacting with customers. Use language that captures your passion for this kind of work.
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What Makes a Good Personal Statement?
The personal statement you use should be tailored for each individual application. But every good CV personal statement needs to include the following:
The right skills
Look carefully through the job ad and any other specification or description you’ve been given. Note which skills are being asked for, and compare this with a general list of personal skills you’ve brainstormed. Only include skills are directly relevant to this particular role. If there are five or six, choose just one or two at most.
First or third person
Whether to write in the first or third person depends on the tone you want to use. For the more caring or creative professions, the first person might seem more personal and apt; whereas positions that rely on hard skills, like engineering or accounting, may suit the third person.
There’s no right or wrong answer. However, once you’ve chosen, it’s vital to make sure that you remain consistent throughout your personal statement and CV.
Less is more
A recruiter may have to read through dozens of CVs for a single position, so the sight of a long personal statement will put them off reading yours before they even start. Limit yourself to 200 words or less. If the details you’re including won’t fit, then remove some of the details or rework the language.
Although you have to sound professional in your personal statement, you also have to sound like yourself. Adopt a tone that captures your personality and your enthusiasm for the job you’re applying for. If you use stilted or overly formal language because you think it’s expected, your personal statement won’t sound authentic.
Avoiding keyword stuffing
Although keywords are important, they should be used sparingly. Packing 12 into a 200-word personal statement may well fool the ATS, but it will look clumsy and forced to a human recruiter, putting them off reading the rest of your CV.
How to Structure Your CV’s Personal Statement
When you first sit down to write a personal statement, you might simply pour out information in a fairly random manner, as you think of things. While kind of brainstorming is fine for generating ideas, the finished personal statement has to be carefully structured.
A strong structure will ensure your statement looks professional, and will also make it easier to decide where to put particular pieces of information. A personal statement can be broken down into three main parts:
Who you are
- Keep it simple. You are a chartered accountant with 17 years’ experience, for example, or a fully qualified occupational therapist.
- Make sure your description overlaps with the job specification.
- Include irrelevant details such as the fact that you’ve completed three marathons. It may be impressive in its own right, but if it doesn’t impact on the job in question, don’t mention it.
What you have to offer the employer
- Tell the truth. It may be tempting to exaggerate your skills or even make up experience. Even if it does work (and it probably won’t) it could lead to you doing a job you’re not actually qualified to do, which is a recipe for disaster.
- Keep it brief. Summarise your areas of expertise, qualifications and experience in 200 words or less. Have too many? Select the most impressive and/or relevant. If you get your personal statement right, the recruiter will read your full employment history further down your CV.
- Use irrelevant clichés like ‘works well as part of a team’. Recruiters assume this is a given, and when you’ve only got 200 words, you can’t afford to waste any of them.
- Write a list of sentences starting with the word ‘I’. Even if you’re writing in the first person, this will stop your personal statement being the dynamic, interesting couple of sentences it needs to be.
- Tailor your skills to fit each application. Every job, even in a single industry, has slightly different demands. Your personal statement needs to reflect this to show you’re taking a professional and thorough approach.
- Focus on the wrong kind of skills. Empathy and good communication might be fantastic skills for certain positions, but if you’re applying for a job as an accountant, your mathematical ability might count for more. Decide if the job needs soft or hard skills, and get the emphasis right.
Your CV’s Personal Statement Could Make a Job-Winning Difference
Your personal statement is the first thing a recruiter reads when they look at your CV. Take a look at our professionally produced personal statement examples and you’ll see a short, high-impact paragraph that summarises the applicant’s strongest points in a highly persuasive manner.
With our advice and the power of our CV builder, it’s fast and simple to create a job-winning personal statement.