Creating an eye catching personal statement
‘In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes’. This comment, attributed to artist Andy Warhol, will always be considered one of the most celebrated quotes ever, despite him, in later life, denying that he ever said it.
This example of early personal branding has become uncannily prophetic in the age of social media influencers and YouTube personalities.
But what has all this got to do with recruitment we hear you ask?
Plenty. Especially if you are looking for a job or new employment challenge. How you position yourself in the market-place is a critical factor in your success. And that means producing a personal statement that resonates with the target audience – in this case, the prospective employer.
What is a personal statement, and how do you go about producing one?
A personal statement is just like Andy Warhol’s famous quote, it’s what gets you noticed. A summary of why the prospective employer should hire you, and what benefits you bring to the business.
Where do you start?
Today the vast amount of competition, all vying for attention, has a myriad of outlets to enable this. A personal statement, therefore, has to work hard to stand out and catch the recruiter’s attention above everyone else’s.
How do you define a personal statement?
It’s a concise summary of the key skills and attributes that make you the most suitable candidate for the position. In your CV, it usually appears below your name and contact details and is written usually in the first person, ‘I am’ or ‘I did’ etc.
It is also important that you tailor its content for every application submitted. Generic versions soon get ditched. This not a one size fits all operation. Every role is different and requires unique skills and experience that should be reflected in your personal statement.
For example: ‘I have ten years’ experience as a commercial gas engineer in the Stoke area’ and ‘The last five working in the construction sector’ etc.
A personal statement is the six second* chance you have of ‘selling yourself’ to the recruiter. (*six seconds is the average length of time your CV will be looked at). It should, therefore, concisely combine skills, personal attributes, goals, and ambitions, and why the organisation should employ you.
All in less than 150 words and without any waffle or rambling content. On the other hand, you are not auditioning for The Apprentice (unless you are, of course) so hold back the hype, cancel the buzzwords (culture fit / talent pipeline / synergy / Rock star etc.) and be honest (back to The Apprentice again) without over-exaggerating.
It should also be consistent and formatted the same as the remainder of your CV (otherwise it looks like a cut and paste) and back up your claims with accreditations and professional memberships (ACS / Rail RISQS etc.)
By the way, if you are struggling for inspiration, refer to the recruiter’s job description and make a note of the skills and experience they are looking for. Then make a list and cross them off as you write your personal statement.
The structure of the statement should be concise and business like. No catchy slogans and phrases such as ‘I have always wanted to work for xxxx for as long as I can remember’ etc. Express your enthusiasm in the benefits you feel you will bring to the company.
Also, avoid generic statements such as ‘knowledge of Microsoft programs’ and be more specific, such as ‘approved competence in SQL / Python’ etc. If, of course, this is relevant to the vacancy. Don’t just include everything you are good at or skilled in.
Remember, this is a tailored personal statement. It is designed to answer the question ‘why you are the most suitable person for the advertised vacancy’ and should focus on what benefits you bring to the business, rather than how much you’ve achieved in your life.
‘I have over 10 years’ experience as a performance analyst in both a data and contact centre environment. I have good communication skills with a proven track record in building relationships – both internally and externally.’
‘I am ready for a new challenge and keen to progress further in this field. I have previously produced several statistical analysis reports for my current employer. This enabled them to introduce a revised methodology resulting in savings of over 30% per annum’
‘I have worked as a domestic and commercial gas engineer continually for the last seven years. The last three predominately in the construction industry. I am fully qualified, having obtained both commercial and ACS safety certification.
‘I have previous diagnostic and fault finding experience and an up to date awareness of all health and safety procedures. I consider myself good at communicating both orally and in written form, having achieved a level 7 certificate of achievement in a CPD accredited communications course, attended as part of my internal training progression programme.’
What should be included in your personal statement?
- Skills that are pertinent to the job you are applying for.
- Evidence of competency in these skills. Refer to them in context of the job description.
- Experience in the recruiting company’s field of operation.
- Career goals. This will highlight your aims and objectives and one of the reasons for applying for the vacancy.
- If you are currently unemployed, include details of any voluntary work or training courses you’ve attended during this period. The reader will also be interested in hearing how you’ve remained connected and up to date during this period. For example, keeping your LinkedIn profile refreshed, maintaining contact with networkers, overseeing industry trends etc.
- If you have had a career break, for example pregnancy or a gap travel year, mention this but don’t dwell on it. Use it to highlight your well balanced composition.
- Make sure your personal statement not only catches the reader’s attention but keeps them reading to the end. Make it interesting and compelling.
- Don’t include any adverse or negative comments about your current / previous employment. This is not the place to bad mouth your current employer (they may know each other!)
- Don’t cut and paste or plagiarise someone else’s personal statement. Remember, the reader is looking at many more than just yours so familiar or common phrases or statements will stand out, just not in a good way.
How to end your personal statement
In show business, they do say ‘it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish’. It’s the same with a personal statement. A strong opening sentence will certainly hook the reader, but it’s a strong closing sentence that will clinch the interview.
The final paragraph gives you the chance to emphasise the key points in your statement and leave them in no doubt that you are the perfect person to fill their vacancy. This is where your interest and enthusiasm shines through. Not just your interest in the area of work but the opportunity to work for such a progressive organisation.
It’s also where you can highlight what makes you special, in other words what your unique selling proposition (USP) is – the key thing that makes you stand out from all the other applicants.
Check your document for any grammatical errors or spelling mistakes and get someone else you trust to read it through and get their opinion.
We’re happy to offer advice on how to create an eye catching personal statement, just drop us a line on 0845 478 5009 or firstname.lastname@example.org