- Including a personal statement gives you an opportunity to convey personality in your résumé
- An effective statement should address the hiring company’s baseline concerns
- You can craft a powerful and engaging statement by answering three important questions
Résumé personal statements usually follow one of three formats: objectives, “about me” intros, or a combination of the two. They usually occupy the second section of your résumé or CV, following your name and contact details.
Objective statements (e.g., “To secure a mid-level HR position”), once a common feature on US-style résumés, are increasingly seen as old-fashioned and impersonal. They also focus on what you want from the hiring company, while the hiring company’s focus is actually on what it needs from the candidates.
A personal statement, on the other hand, allows you to address the hiring company’s baseline concerns. But it also gives you a voice and a personality, reminding the reader there’s actually a person behind the résumé.
A successful personal statement answers these three questions:
- Do you have relevant experience and/or skills?
- Why do you want this job?
- Will you fit in at this company?
With some practice and editing, it’s possible to answer these questions in four sentences or less and no more than 100 words. Write your personal statement after you’ve prepped the rest of your résumé, as you’ll have a full page of information from which to draw. Let’s cover each question.
1. Do you have relevant experience and/or skills?
This is the baseline question. If you can’t say yes to this, you probably won’t be screened for a call back.
One of the challenges about job hunting is you’re often expected to have experience in areas in which you might not have worked directly. When that’s the case, try to come up with examples of how work you’ve done in the past would be useful to you in this new job. You can usually gain at least one good example by reviewing your résumé once you’ve tailored it to the job opening.
Let’s say you’re an administrative assistant in an HR department, but your real passion is training people. You apply for a job as a development officer. The first line of your personal statement could read something like this:
“Over the last six months, I was proud to contribute to two major training improvement schemes at ABC Company.”
It doesn’t matter if the extent of your contributions was limited to putting the PowerPoint slides in the correct order. The point is you did contribute. As long as you’re coming to the table with some relevant exposure, even if not’s the exact skill or experience listed in the job ad, recruiters and hiring managers will generally keep an open mind.
2. Why do you want this job?
This will definitely be one of the questions if you get to the interview stage. But by weaving it into your personal statement, you’ll not only be able to prepare for it ahead of time, you’ll give the reader some valuable insight into your intentions.
Try to keep the hiring company’s interests in mind when answering this question. They want to make sure they avoid candidates who are applying to tons of jobs to see what sticks, or running away from their current company.
Using our previous example of the HR assistant applying for a development role, our second sentence could go something like this:
“These experiences reminded me of my passion for training and developing others to grow professionally.”
Here, our candidate again addresses her relevant exposure, but she also explains what she’s truly passionate about. This gives the reader some idea as to why she’s applied for this job: It’s what she really wants to do. She’s not running away from anything, she’s simply ready to take her HR career to the next level.
3. Would you fit in at this company?
It’s important to show you’ll be able fit in at your future employer right from the start. It’s easier to convey this in your cover letter than in your résumé or CV, but one way to do it in the latter is through the personal statement.
Highlighting values you share in common with the company is a good way to go. Read up on their history and connect with prominent company figures on LinkedIn to learn more about their culture and vision for the future.
Turning the focus back onto the hiring company can be a great way to close your statement on a high note. After reading, for example, that the company she’s interested in has a leadership program across all levels, our applicant for the development officer position might round out her statement by saying:
“As someone who’s incredibly dedicated to fostering in-house growth, my goal is to move into a position that will empower me to further leadership opportunities across all levels.”
This closing sentence brings it home. This candidate believes in fostering in-house development, so she shares an important value with the hiring company. She also wants to be able to further leadership opportunities in her next position, which lines up perfectly with the development officer opening.
Three Easy Steps
In three easy steps, we’ve come up with a fantastic personal statement for our example candidate, an HR assistant looking to make the jump to development officer. Here’s the whole statement, beginning to end:
“Over the last six months, I was proud to contribute to two major training improvement schemes at ABC Company. These experiences reminded me of my passion for training and developing others to grow professionally. As someone who’s incredibly dedicated to fostering in-house growth, my goal is to move into a position that will empower me to further leadership opportunities across all levels of the company.”
Three sentences, just over sixty words, fits nicely at the top of a résumé or CV. A concise but detailed statement like this is also a good jumping-off point for where to take your cover letter (and yes, you should include one of those, too, for every application).
Now that you’ve crafted a superstar personal statement, check out these articles for more tips on résumés, cover letters, and careers:
- 3 Things You Must Do Before You Embark on a Career Change
- 3 Techniques to Tailor Your Résumé to Any Job Offer (And Still Save Time)
- 3 Ways to Incorporate Color in Your Résumé or CV
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