3 Dos and Don’ts for personal statements

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Potential employers spend an average of 8.8 seconds reading a single CV. And the part that has the most crucial role to play? It’s your personal statement that sits at the top of your CV.

In just a few sentences, it has to convince your potential boss that you’re great for the role and what sets you apart from your competitors.

Your personal statement (also known as personal profile or CV profile), is an easy way for your potential boss to gage if you have the skills, experience and attitude they’re looking for. And it could make all the difference whether they keep reading about you - or discard your application on the ‘no’ pile.

Squeezing your experience and skills into a maximum of three sentences (the ideal length) while still being informative can be a challenge. So let’s look at some ‘Dos’ and ‘Don’ts’ when it comes to creating a personal statement that works hard for you.

DO answer three critical questions

There are three crucial questions you want your personal statement to answer:

  1. Who am I?
  2. What can I bring to the role?
  3. What am I looking for in my career?

DO be boring with your job titles

Bear in mind that many recruiters use CV filtering software that looks for particular keywords. So if the job advert is for a catering manager for example, use this phrase (in your first sentence if possible) rather than something you’d love to be known as – perhaps that’s a ‘culinary guru or ‘kitchen ninja’.

DO tailor your personal statement each time

Bad news: once you’ve nailed your personal statement, you’ll need to keep changing it because ideally it should be tailored to each role you apply for. Notice which skills and phrases the job description uses, then weave some in.

Adopting the same language your potential employer uses - not just in job descriptions but also on their website and on their social media - is also a way to show you’re a good fit.

DON’T be vague with your claims

Waffly claims like ‘skilled at increasing sales’ or ‘excellent at meeting deadlines’ will do nothing for your credibility. For more impact, aim to back up your results with specific data and statistics, like ‘I was part of a team that increased sales by 40% over a year.’

And of course, while it might be tempting to be economical with the truth, lying on your CV is one of the greatest recruitment crimes out there. Don’t assume you won’t be found out - you will be!

DON’T make it all about you

Yes, it’s your personal statement and while you should talk about your career achievements, it should actually revolve about your potential employer and the value you can add to their company that no other candidate can.

DON’T trot out clichés or buzzwords

While it’s best to steer clear of the latest buzzwords, using the same old tired phrases won’t do you any favours either. Ones to avoid include: ‘Good at multitasking’, ‘Team player’ and ‘Good communication skills’. None of them say much about you, other than you follow the crowd in how you describe yourself.

After all, it’s called your ‘personal’ statement for a reason. And as we tell the job candidates we work with at HR GO, it’s worth using anything at your disposal to set yourself ahead of your career rivals.

More information

Find lots more CV inspiration – including tips and templates – on the HR GO website here

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