How to write a powerful personal statement?

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.

How to get your job back during a restructure?

How to get your job back during a restructure?

Just under 50% of UK companies think that they will have to make redundancies in the next few months because of the Coronavirus crisis. 

If your company has already made use of the furlough scheme, it will come as no surprise to hear one of the big R words: Redundancy, Reorganisation or Restructure. 

They all mean the same; jobs will disappear and most employees will have to successfully apply for their job or be made redundant. 

Have you been asked to reapply for your own job? 

I bet your first reaction was ‘WTF! This is my job, why do I even have to reapply for it? I’m already doing the job!’

Even if you were expecting a restructure to happen, it’s still big news to you and it’s natural to feel angry, sad or betrayed.

But you need a clear head to think calmly about what to do next. 

Take a deep breath and consider your 3 options:

Leave it

Since the reorganisation means your job is gone, you’re not obliged to apply for this new one. You can take the redundancy pay and go. 

Even if you are really really angry and want to give your employer the finger, don’t! You don’t know who you’ll work with in the future. 

Leave gracefully and remain professional until the end.

Fight for it

If your company is going through a consultation process, you can challenge the proposal if you can prove that the job really is what you are doing right now. 

It’s worth a try if you have a union rep who’s ready to fight your corner. But chance is the company has already decided to go ahead with the restructure and that this ‘new job’ is too different to your ‘old job’ to just give it to you. 

So you’ll be wasting your time and can be a bit risky as you can be seen in a bad light for being too militant. 

If there are other people in the same situation, tackle it together, there is power in numbers. 

Earn it

If you want to stay and want the job you’ll just have to go with the flow and apply for it. 

Here are my 4 tips to earn your job back:

  1. Be quiet

You do NOT have to give your opinion about the new structure, you do NOT have to share how you feel, you do NOT have to say what you plan to do next to your colleagues or boss, even if they ask you. 

Let’s be honest for a second, if you are really negative about the new proposal and air your frustrations with everyone, you’ll not only look bad but also make others around you feel bad.

If you’re going to discuss your views about the reorganisation, do it with someone you trust who will not use what you say against you. 

  1. Be nice

Be a model employee! You don’t know yet who your next boss is going to be, be nice to everyone… just in case… 

  1. Be confident 

Of course, there’s no guarantee that you will get the job! Nothing in life is guaranteed. 

Don’t start speculating about who will be made redundant and who will  compete with you for this role. Don’t listen to those who are trying to intimidate you by telling you that they think the job is theirs. If it was their job, they would have been appointed already. 

If you don’t believe you can get this job, whoever is interviewing you won’t believe it either. This is YOUR job and you’re going to earn it. This is YOUR job!

  1. Be proud

If it’s your job, you’ve done it before and I bet you’ve done it well.

Remind yourself of your accomplishments, look at your past end of year reviews, quantify your results where you can and write down your successes. 

Gather evidence that you are the right person for this job and show it off in your CV, application and interview (or whatever hoops you have to jump to get your job back). 

Got it?

I get it,, going through a restructure and reapplying for your own job may seem like a waste of time but it is also an opportunity.

An opportunity to renegotiate your offer. It is a new job after all…

An opportunity to practice your interviewing skills. If you don’t get it and are made redundant, don’t panic… Your CV is up to date, you know what questions to prepare for your next interviews and you have (hopefully) a decent redundancy pay package to keep you going until you find your dream job. 

So remember, be quiet, be nice, be confident and be proud! This is your job and you’re going to earn it!

Is Covid19 your opportunity to pivot your career?

Is Covid19 your opportunity to pivot your career?

Are you about to lose your job because of Covid19?

Right now, the Coronavirus health crisis is putting a lot of jobs at risk. Some governments are offering furlough schemes to support businesses and avoid redundancies but there’s no doubt that, when it all ends, some companies will have to lay off part of their workforce. And if you haven’t already, you’re likely to be impacted in some way.

It doesn’t matter if it’s your first job, if you’ve only just returned from maternity leave, or if you’re over 50. Losing your job will be devastating but you’ll eventually have to find work again. And you can find a new one if you have the right mindset!

Let’s talk about companies for a second. Some have been lucky and have thrived in the past few months. But the rest of them have had a tough time keeping their business afloat during lockdown. Those who will make it through this crisis are those who have changed their strategy. Remember the bakeries who started delivering bread and selling flour, manufacturers who made masks, PPE and even ventilators, fitness companies who moved their workouts online… They have too been victims of this crisis but instead of doing nothing, they have used it as an opportunity to try new ideas to adapt and survive.

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You too, have the choice between doing nothing or pivoting your career.

Doing nothing is not an option, so here’s how to change your career path:

Go fast

Some industries are really suffering from this crisis but others are booming and are urgently looking for new talent. And guess what, you’re available right now!

If you’ve lost your job, chances are you won’t be able to find a similar job in the same sector so easily. 

But here are some jobs and industries for you to target:

Companies that keep us alive

  • Health & Social care
  • Pharmacies
  • Supermarket
  • Food production

Companies that keep us at home

  • Ecommerce
  • Warehouse and delivery
  • Technology
  • Call centres

Even if it’s not your ideal career, you can find a job in a different field or industry to keep you going while you look for your dream job.

Go Big

If you can afford to take your time, now might be the perfect for a change of career path.

Have you always wanted to do something different? 

What stopped you? 

  • I would earn less money
  • I don’t want to leave my colleagues
  • I’m over 50
  • I’ve studied for my job, it would be a waste 
  • I’m scared of failing, it’s too risky
  • I have no relevant experience to get this job

Those were (kind of) valid excuses when you had a job but now you’ve been kicked out of your comfort zone, there’s nothing stopping you from trying something different.

  1. Be clear on what you want to do. Be realistic tho, is your dream job really a good fit? Do your research about what the work involves and reach out to people in this field to ask for their advice. 
  2. Understand what skills you need. Hard skills are anything you can learn through training (degree, experience on a specific software, language, etc.) while soft skills are related to the way you interact with people (teamwork, problem solving, communication, etc.). 
  3. Get the hard skills. There’s no secret, if you want to be a nurse, you’ll need a nursing qualification. Invest time and effort in getting the technical skills you need.
  4. Transfer the soft skills: You already possess some of the personal attributes needed for the job, you just need to show they can apply to your next job too. 

Whatever option you choose, when you change industry or career, you’ll have to connect your experience so far with the skills that are needed for your next role. 

OK, but how to do that if you have no experience in this industry or job?

The idea is to use ‘Transferable Skills’.

Transferable skills are interpersonal skills that can be applied to a wide range of careers or industries. They’re the best way to show you’re a great fit for the role, regardless of your previous experience.

You learn and develop those skills at work, but also outside of it, at school, in sport and even at home. 

To get started, you’ll need to find out what soft skills are needed for the job. Read some job descriptions for your ideal role and notice what words keep coming up in the requirements. 

But saying you have those skills isn’t good enough, you need to demonstrate how you’ve used them until now in your CV, application and during the interview process. 

Here are some examples to get you started:

Don’t saySay
TeamworkI worked collaboratively with the training team to deliver a new induction programme
Problem solvingI successfully introduced a new way of dealing with customer complaints
CommunicationI created monthly reports and delivered presentations at the quarterly management meetings
LeadershipI have been the team captain of my local netball team for the past 5 years
OrganisationI coordinated the school fair with parents, local businesses and the council and raised more than £1000 to refurbish the library

When you display the right behaviours you’re also showing you have potential to do a great job, regardless of what training you need. Remember that!

This Coronavirus crisis might mean that you’ll be on furlough for the next few months, or will be made redundant but you can still find a job you love. And if you want to try something different now is your chance to do it!

So I’ll say it again for good measure: Pivot! Pivot! Pivot!!

Let’s talk money…

Let’s talk money…

When you apply for a job, do you know how much it pays?

Probably not. But why? Because companies don’t want to disclose how much they pay to their candidates who will keep asking for the max, to their employees who will all be wanting a raise and to their competitors who will offer more than them and snatch the best candidates. 

But, let me ask you a question… Why do we all work?

  1. To earn money, pay our bills, buy nice shoes, go on holidays
  2. Because we like what we do

Still, the most critical piece of information about a job is hidden and you end up taking a gamble every time you send an application. 

I’ve even got a friend who went through THREE stages of interviews before being asked about her salary. Turned up the job paid HALF of what she was on… What a waste of time! 

If you don’t want to go to pointless interviews for a job you’re not going to take, here’s what you can do:

Before you apply, go to Glassdoor and search the salary for this job or a similar role. If you can’t find it, you can still have a look at their salaries, it will give you an idea of whether this employer pays well or not. 

Then, during the screening call with the recruiter, they should ask you what you want. If they don’t, when it comes to the end of the chat, just ask them straight. It will probably go like that:

  • You: ‘Can you tell me more bout the salary?
  • Recruiter: ‘It’s company policy not to disclose our salaries; the remuneration will depend on the right candidate’s skills and experience, blah blah blah.’ At this point, they should finally ask you what you’re expecting. If not:
  • You: ‘Ok, I understand. Well, I am looking for around £££. Can you confirm that if I was successful, you would be able to match my expectations?

Based on their reaction you’ll know what to do next:

  • Yes of course.’ —> Darn, you should have asked for more! If you get an offer, make sure you add up bonuses and other benefits to your package to get a better one.
  • It’s a bit higher than what we would usually offer for the role but for the right candidate we can discuss this further…’ —> If you smash your interview, there will be room to negotiate. Go get it!
  • ‘Awkward silence’ —> You are earning far more than what they’re offering and you’re probably overqualified for the job. Stop the process there and rethink the kind of roles you’re applying for.

Sometimes, there’s no screening call and you go straight to the interview. If that’s the case, try to get in touch with the recruitment team or hiring manager before the interview. 

Your time and energy are precious. Don’t wait until the offer stage to talk about what is important to you. 

You go girl! 

How to deal with rejection

How to deal with rejection

When you’ve set your heart on a job it’s hard to hear you didn’t get it. It doesn’t matter if you’ve just applied, not been selected after an interview or lost your job, you’ll naturally be disappointed not to be the chosen one. 

The intensity of your sorrow and the speed you’ll get over it will vary depending on your personality, how much you wanted the job or what else is going on in your life but you’re likely to go through the ‘5 stages of grief’ before you can move on.

There is nothing wrong with experiencing those feelings and you will eventually get over it but the longer you take, the more time and energy you’ll waste, potentially missing opportunities to find something else. 

To start with, you’ll be in denial. I just can’t believe this is happening, I need to read this rejection email another 10 times to be sure. Don’t bother, you’ve truly been rejected, that’s a fact. Have a good cry and move on. 

Then comes the anger. Those bastards! That’s so unfair, I deserved this job. The reality is that you’re not pissed at them but at yourself for not getting the job but all this negative energy will get you nowhere. Turn your rage into action and start sending loads of new applications. 

Now that you’ve calmed down, you’ll start wondering if there’s still a chance. That’s the bargaining phase. I said bargaining not begging, it’s not time to sound desperate. First, try to get some feedback and, if it sounds like you did ok but there was someone else better, just let them know that if there is another opening in the future, you’d be interested. 

Although they’ve said they’d be in touch if something else came up, you’re not stupid and know they’re just being polite. Depression kicks in and you start to feel like shit. I’m so rubbish, no one will ever hire me. You’ll naturally be reminiscing about where you messed up. Go on, do it. Think about what happened and where you could have performed better. What questions did you stumble on? Was your CV really showing the skills needed for the job? Did you show enough motivation for the role? Identify where you’ve gone wrong and fix it for next time. 

You’re almost in the final phase: the acceptance stage… Yes maybe you could have done better and got the job, maybe there was someone else stronger than you. It still doesn’t make you worthless. This role just wasn’t right for you at this time, that’s it. 

Being rejected is hard and you will find yourself being negative and sometimes frankly ridiculous… I have cried on the phone while being told I didn’t get a job, refused to listen why I wasn’t ready for a promotion and just quit, contacted a recruiter far too many times after a rejection, considered changing careers when things didn’t work out… Not all at the same time. I have made all those mistakes so you don’t have to!

Just be aware of your feelings and refocus your energy to bounce back as quickly as possible. 

Realise that this was just practice to land your dream job. You’ve learnt and improved thanks to this rejection and you come out of it a better candidate. You WILL find a job you love.