Writing your personal statement can certainly be tough, but this easy how-to should help.
It’s the first thing a prospective employer will read when they open your CV – for that reason, it’s also the first thing many ambitious job hunters struggle with when making their application.
On the surface, the task of writing a summary of your value as an employee seems straightforward: it’s only a few lines, after all. Yet, considering the competition in the market and the fact that even one spelling or grammar mistake can cause your resumé to be discarded, there’s a lot resting on the profile section of your CV.
When it comes to writing your personal statement, there are certain do’s and don’ts – the last thing you want is to give a hiring manager a good reason not to read on. This in mind, we’ve put together the following tips to ensure prospective employers take notice of your application.
Stick to a simple structure
A personal statement can be broken down into three key areas – who you are, what you want do and why you’d be brilliant at it. Luckily, it’s easy to weave these three elements into just a sentence or two. For example, in the first sentence someone may introduce themselves as ‘a highly-specialised Corporate Solicitor looking for a new challenge in…’ before diving into their relevant skills in the second sentence.
Your CV personal profile should be succinct and to the point, summarising your value in no more than 200 words. Don’t try to include all your skills and experience in your personal statement – that’s better suited to a different section of your CV – but drop in a few keywords here and there, just as you would in a cover letter. So, rather than calling yourself an ‘experienced engineer’, show off your expertise by saying ‘an ambitious engineer with eight years’ experience in…’.
It should be honest
Stretching the truth might seem like the easiest way to get noticed, but lying on your CV is in fact a criminal offence. What’s more, lies can be easily uncovered and damage your reputation in your industry. Honesty is always the best policy, even for those who have just kickstarted their professional career. If you feel there is little experience draw on, highlight your key strengths and focus on your passion and potential – leave fabrications and fake news at the door.
Demonstrate your ambition
An employer doesn’t just want to know why you want the job they’re advertising – they want to know where you aspire to be in five years’ time. Perhaps more importantly, they want to know whether you’ll make a long-term commitment to the company. This is your chance to showcase your short- and long-term goals, in both a personal and professional sense. Keep this specific to the position you’re applying for, but consider the sector as a whole too – particularly any trends or predicted developments in the industry.
Be professional, not robotic
Your personal statement is just that: personal. If you are to stand out from the crowd, you need to make it memorable and not come across as a robot. As much as core skills and experience matters, hiring managers also seek candidates who will bring something new to their workplace culture; they want people who aren’t just equipped with expertise but brimming with excitement and enthusiasm for the role. That said, don’t go overboard with the exclamation points, throw in jargon or attempt to be their friend – this is a professional application, not a social media profile.
It should use keywords, not buzzwords
Fancy yourself as a guru, an innovator or a wizard in your job? In the world of recruitment, buzzwords signal fluff and no substance and will only help you to stand out for the wrong reasons. Instead, refer to the job advert to pick out a few role and industry-based keywords.
Using the appropriate keywords will ensure your resumé is selected as relevant by the recruiting software known as an Applicant Tracking System (ABS). This tool is designed to make a recruiter’s life easier by scanning a document for the required skills taken from the job description. Just as in website development, keyword stuffing is never a good idea: as important as it is that the ATS selects your CV as relevant, your reader is still a human who seeks to know the person behind the skills.
Edit, edit, and then edit again
Once you’ve decided what you’re going to include, it’s time to make sure it’s got that competitive edge. Ideally, aim for approximately 100 words for a typical CV, or a little longer if it’s for an application form. It’s much easier to write 200-300 words first, and then trim it down to make sure you’ve covered everything you need to.
This is also a good time to decide whether to write in first- or third-person. Most candidates favour the latter, as it tends to appear more credible and professional – and in general, CVs are written in third-person too. This keeps things consistent throughout the whole document, but writing in first-person allows you to bring out more of your personality, which could help you to stand out against hundreds of other CVs.
Finally, don’t forget to proofread your personal statement several times. When you’re happy with it, ask a friend or family member to proofread it for you too. Your personal statement can be the most powerful tool in your job application, so it’s crucial that you make sure that you don’t let a simple spelling mistake slip through the net.
Article contributed by Heat Recruitment