How to write a personal statement for your CV

interviewees in a waiting room holding up question marks

This article was written by the Great British Mag content team on 21 April 2021.

When applying for jobs in the UK, your CV is key to getting you noticed by hiring managers. It’s what forms their first impression of you, so it needs to be spot-on.

The first thing recruiters will likely read on your CV is your personal statement (also called a personal profile). Although a fundamental part of this all-important document, it can be tricky to write. Keep reading for some tips on what it’s for and what you should include.

What is a personal statement on a CV?

Your CV’s personal statement is a paragraph that comes right at the top, just after your contact details, all about you. It’s there to give recruiters a feel for your personality and suitability for the role you’re applying for.

Do I really need to write a personal statement?

There are endless ways to structure and write a CV but whatever style you choose, the personal statement is an absolute must if you want to get a job in the UK, says CV expert and author Heena Pattni.

“Think of it as the foundation for the rest of the CV. It can take a recruiter less than 10 seconds to decide whether to read on or reject your CV, so fail to impress with a profile statement and a recruiter may not bother reading the rest.”

What information should I include?

Think about all the qualities that make you a good fit for the role but that aren’t mentioned elsewhere in your CV. This is where to summarise them. Tell the recruiter who you are, what skills and attributes you have that make you ideal for the role and what you can bring to the company. In short tailor your personal statement to the job you are applying for.

How to write a good personal statement

Here are some tips to follow when you’re writing your personal statement, so that you can give your CV the best chance of getting noticed.

Tailor it for each job application

It might seem like a huge effort – especially when you’re applying for lots of jobs after graduation – but taking the time to tweak and rework your CV for each application can make all the difference.

Look at the job description and requirements for each role, as well as the company’s website to get a feel for their ambitions and culture, and try to reflect your suitability in your personal statement.

Be concise

Your personal profile is supposed to be brief, so you need to get to the point quickly.

“Keep it to between four and six sentences and about 200 words or less,” says Heena. “It should be short and impactful.”

There’s no room for information that’s not highly relevant to the role you’re applying for and that makes you sound amazing, meaning it’s critical to check the job description carefully when you’re writing it and make each word count.

“I always ask my clients to use the ‘so what?’ test,” says Heena. Ask yourself if each trait or skill you’ve mentioned is key to the role and is something a recruiter will be actively looking for. If not, then it’s inconsequential and probably a waste of that precious word limit.

Avoid clichés

While you may well be a ‘team player’, ‘hard worker’ and ‘fast learner’, those phrases are often overused on CVs so can come across as rather lazy and clichéd. Try to say those things using more imaginative language, and if you can demonstrate them in your work experience or achievements, then all the better.

“A cliche I see often on CVs is ‘I’m friendly and get on with people easily’,” says Heena. “If you were applying for a job in retail or customer service, you might reword ‘friendly’ into ‘easily develops and maintains strong customer relationships’, as this will be important for that role.”

Let your personality shine through

The whole point of a personal statement is to give your CV some character. Recruiters want to know about you as a person, as well as your abilities, relevant interests and motivations – so try to make sure that your statement is a good reflection of you.

Don’t repeat information

Your CV already includes your qualifications and work experience. While you might want to elaborate on some of the most relevant and impressive aspects of those achievements, be careful not to repeat information. There’s no room to waste here and you don’t want it to look like you’ve run out of things to say.

Be honest

It’s tempting to exaggerate your skills and experience in your personal statement, to make yourself stand out among other applicants. But recruiters are generally pretty good at spotting this, and it doesn’t give a great impression of you. Saying that you’re ‘highly experienced’ as a university graduate, for instance, might be a little bit of a reach.

That said, there’s no need to be negative or play down your abilities either. Focus on the positives, just without making any farfetched statements.

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