It’s a big topic so we will start here in Part 1 by just focusing on the first paragraph that most applicants start with – the Personal Statement.
In this article we use 5 real-life extracts from personal statements in CVs sent to us for review. We detail the feedback we gave, plus the key ‘take-away’ points to remember from each one! Dive in.
You’re about to see your own personal statement in a whole new light…!
Case study 1
“I currently work for XXX Home and Office Supplies as a Showroom Manager covering showrooms throughout the South-West of England. I hold a full UK driving license and own my own car.
All my qualifications are listed on this CV including my GCSE’s and my NVQ’s which I have worked towards.”
Your personal statement is the first thing the recruiters will read so you need it to be punchy, focused and to say interesting things about you. Most of these details are covered elsewhere, so it’s a waste of valuable space you need to be using to showcase who you are and what you can do!
- Don’t include anything here that you have also covered elsewhere in your CV.
Case study 2
“I am a team player. I have current and past experience in customer service. I am fully committed to ensuring customer satisfaction. I am very well organised. I possess good interpersonal and communication skills. I am able to build good relationships with colleagues and customers. I pay attention to detail with accuracy and quality, and focus on problem solving.”
These things sound great, but do you have any evidence of any of them? Recruiters will be looking for evidence of great customer service skills but this doesn’t tell them anything that the employment section won’t already cover. You need to think of ways to distinguish yourself from all the other applicants with customer service experience. How can the recruiter know this other than taking your word for it? If taking the word of applicants was enough then everyone would get an interview – to be different you need to explain yourself more.
- Provide supporting evidence for your claims to make yourself a much more credible candidate.
Case study 3
“I have good working knowledge of IT including Microsoft Office. I have advanced knowledge of xxx accounting software and also have done courses on project management skills and xxxx computer programming.”
This type of information is not best suited to the personal statement section, which should be very focused on the job you are applying for and how your skills, experiences and personal qualities would make you a perfect fit for the job. You also need to consider the relevance of everything you include in your CV, because recruiters won’t pay much attention to anything they don’t think will impact on how you will potentially do the job.
- Think about what a recruiter needs to know for the job you want. Will they be interested in some of the things you have covered? Don’t list skills and qualifications for the sake of it, only include details which are relevant to the role.
Case study 4
“A confident self-motivated person who works well independently or as part of a team. Reliable, hardworking and an excellent communicator. Able to adapt to any new challenge”
Unfortunately, EVERYONE says these things on their CV! If a recruiter has to read a hundred applications in a day, there’s a good chance they are hoping to read something a bit different from time to time! The best way to improve these sorts of statements is to make sure you provide some evidence to back it up, either in your personal statement or in your later work experience section.
- Avoid using clichés which will make you CV seem just like everyone else’s.
Case study 5
“I am looking for a new challenge which would allow me to further my career. I would like a role which allows me to utilise my existing skills, extend my knowledge and experience, to offer me the opportunity for training and development, and offers a structured career path.”
This is a very general statement which doesn’t bring YOU to life at all. The language is quite formal and very standard e.g. like you’ve got it from a text book. Plus, it is very focused on what you want, where you would be better to explain what you can do for them. You will have all sorts of interesting things you could share about who you are and what you can bring to the role, this is where you need to shout about these so you shine.
- Shift the focus of statements to be about what skills and qualities you can bring and why they are the perfect fit for the role. The recruiter will be trying to figure this out as they read your CV so by highlighting it yourself you are making their job, and decision, much easier.
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