How to write a powerful personal statement?

Did you know that recruiters spent on average 6 seconds looking at a CV?

That’s it.

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Sorry, I know you spent hours working on it but no one will read the whole thing. 

Instead, they’ll probably just look at your personal statement and your current or most recent job. 

You need to use those 6 seconds to grab their attention and stand out from the hundreds (or thousands) of other applications.

How?

By writing a powerful personal statement!

A personal statement (AKA personal profile, career objective, opening statement, executive summary, etc..) is a short paragraph at the top of your CV. 

Think about it as your elevator pitch and opportunity to make a good first impression. 

Writing a strong introduction isn’t easy but if you get it right, you’ll be flooded with interview requests. 

First, let me give you my 4 Do’s and Don’ts:

Do:

1. Get the structure right

There are 3 parts you must include in your profile: 

  • Who you are: The first sentence of your statement is here to introduce yourself to the reader. Tell them what you do now, what project are you working on, what industry you know about, what you specialise in? Or have been if you’re not working right now. 
  • What you’re good at: This next part is about showing you’ve got what it takes to do the job. You have to understand what the job needs and talk about what you have got to offer. Not by saying you’re good at something but by referring to achievements that will demonstrate what relevant skills and experience you possess.
  • What you want: In this final part you need to talk about your career objectives. What are you looking for? What do you want and don’t want? Make sure it matches the role you’re going for. 
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2. Make it personal

Most of the statements I read are a complete waste of space, they’re generic AF and don’t tell anything about the person at all!

It is your statement and needs to talk about you. 

If what you write can virtually apply to everyone, don’t write it. 

3. Tailor it to your application

It’s not a cover letter and you’re not expected to mention the company or exact job title. 

But you need to make sure the skills and experience you highlight and your career goals are aligned to what job you’re applying for. 

4. Aim for perfection

It is the first, and maybe only, thing the hiring manager will read on your CV. 

Check your spelling and grammar, make sure your sentences flow well, format it in the same way as the rest of your resume….

Any little mistake will stand out and can get you disqualified.

You have to get it right! 

Don’t

1. Talk too much

I know it’s tempting to cram a lot of information in your profile but you’ll only end up with something that’s hard to read and too cluttered. 

Make those 6 seconds count and put a limit to how much you say.

Anything else can be detailed in the body of your CV or cover letter. 

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2. Go on a tangent

Your opening statement needs to be clear and to the point. 

It’s here to talk about you at work. 

There’s no need to include personal information or give your life story.

3. Be too generic

Of course you are a trustworthy and reliable individual, who can work independently but also as part of a team… but everyone else is too! 

Those adjectives are meaningless in an opening statement and, even worse, contradict themselves when you’re trying to cover all bases.

If you’re applying for similar roles, your statement should work but you’ll need to tweak what you say if you are targeting completely different roles. 

4. Sound pretentious

Talking about yourself in your profile needs to be consistent with the rest of your CV. 

Use ‘I’ or the 3rd person but do not write your executive summary as if someone else was talking about you.

Who wrote the statement? You or someone else?

  • I am a project manager with …I am looking for…
  • A project manager with…. Looking for…
  • NOT: Helen is a project manager with… She is looking for…

Overusing buzzwords and flattering adjectives is also going to make you sound like an idiot. 

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Instead, stick to specific skills and keywords taken from the job advert.

Sounds tricky? 

Let me give you some examples:

It’s not that bad, I promise.

Here are a few examples to get you started.

Ambitious young grad

I am a recent graduate with a 2:1 Bachelor of Laws (LLB), specialised in employment law. I have recently completed an internship in Human Resources Administration where I have successfully updated all employment contracts to comply with new legislation. My career goal is to enhance my knowledge of employment law and I am now looking for a role in the legal or human resources department for a market-leading company. 

Career changer 

Experienced estate agent with a track record of leading complex sales to completion. Recognised as the top biller in my agency for 3 consecutive years, thanks to my excellent negotiation skills and ability to develop strong client relationships. Looking to make use of my sales experience to secure a role as a Business Development Manager in a new industry. 

Looking for a part time job

I am an office manager with over 10 years experience in the Financial Services industry. 

I am currently responsible for all Covid-19 adjustments for my company, ensuring our facilities are safe for our employees and visitors and coordinating the transfer of equipment to staff’s homes to support the running of our operation. My objective is to bring my expertise in looking after the smooth running of an office to a business requiring a part-time Office Manager.

Career breaker

An experienced and passionate secondary school teacher, specialised French and Spanish, currently on a career break to look after my family. Kept up to date with teaching during my time away from work by volunteering to teach languages for a local charity and tutored a student on a weekly basis. Now looking to resume my career on a full-time basis.

Recently unemployed

I am an experienced team manager in the food and beverage industry and have been managing one of the busiest restaurants in the region. I have been responsible for the day to day running of the operation, driving profit and sales, and delivering outstanding customer service by recruiting, training and inspiring staff. Currently out of work due to the company downsizing as a result of Covid-19, I am available immediately for a Store Manager opportunity in the retail industry.

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