How To Write an Attention-Grabbing Personal Statement

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 11 February 2021 | Published 25 August 2020

Updated 11 February 2021

Published 25 August 2020

If you're getting ready to apply for a job or update your CV, you will probably need to include a personal statement with your application. Recruiters and prospective employers often use personal statements to identify whether you are a good match and to choose between applicants who are close contenders for the position. Because of this, a strong statement is especially useful when applying for a highly competitive position. In this article, we explain what a personal statement is and provide tips on how to write one.

What is a personal statement?

A personal statement is a brief personal summary outlining your skills, experience and personal attributes. Often, universities will require a longer statement than recruiters or employers, so you may want to prepare a separate statement for each and cater to any of their specifications. No matter what type of employer you're writing your CV for, the purpose is to impress the reader by making your statement strategically highlight your personal attributes to show you're the perfect candidate for this particular position.

What makes a personal statement stand out?

The best personal statements are concise and easily readable. Try to be original and thorough without repeating anything you've previously mentioned. Although you want your personal statement to be unique, there are still certain standard elements that you will need to cover, such as your education and experiences.

How to write a personal statement

An attention-grabbing personal statement can give you a great advantage over other candidates. It can also be the defining factor that helps you secure a university placement, interview or job. Because of this, it's worth taking the time to understand the best way to make your personal statement stand out above the rest.

By following these steps, you can ensure that you include all the vital components of your personal statement and keep your writing clear and concise:

  1. Read the instructions

  2. Ask yourself questions before you begin

  3. Introduce yourself

  4. Write a captivating opening sentence

  5. Expand on relevant skills, interests and experiences

  6. Conclude your statement

  7. Proofread and edit

1. Read all the instructions

Typically, if you are writing a personal statement for a university, the institution provides guidelines. The requirements for a job personal statement are often more flexible. Check the company's website to get a general idea of the kind of information they'd like to see in your statement. Always read any guidelines or instructions before you begin, and when you have finished, check that you have met all the requirements.

2. Ask yourself questions before you begin

If you're uncertain about what kind of information to use in your personal statement, asking yourself the following questions may help you think of something helpful:

  • What makes your life story unique?

  • What experiences or challenges set you apart from other candidates?

  • How long have you been interested in this subject or field, and why do you think you are well-suited to it?

  • What are your long-term career goals?

  • Are there any discrepancies in your academic or work record that you need to explain?

  • How have you overcome notable challenges in your life?

  • What are the most compelling reasons for this employer to accept you?

3. Introduce yourself

Writing a personal introduction becomes much easier when you focus on bringing out your best attributes. The introduction will set the tone of your whole personal statement, so it's important to start strongly and capture your reader's interest.

When writing a personal statement for a job application or cover letter, you could begin with what is driving you to this particular career. Other attention-grabbing openers include a meaningful quote or an issue that is pertinent to your intended course of study or employment. Whichever you choose, make sure that it is relevant to you and relates to the purpose of your application.

4. Write a captivating opening sentence

If you want to write an opening sentence that will be memorable and make the university admissions office or employer want to read on, consider these pointers:

  • Keep this first sentence short and succinct

  • Explain the point of your statement quickly

  • Make sure your opening sentence links to your closing paragraph

  • If you're still unsure what to say, write the rest of your personal statement first and come back to the introduction last

This will set the tone for your entire personal statement, so don't be afraid to spend some time developing an opener you are proud of.

5. Expand on relevant skills, interests and experiences

In the next section of your personal statement, share details of your relevant experience, talents, and achievements. This is the main body of your personal statement and should include the following:

  • Your experience: If you're applying for university, you can include any experience that relates to the course for which you are applying. For example, if you are applying for a degree in social policy, you could talk about the time you've spent volunteering at your local homeless shelter. If you are applying for a job, you can include your relevant previous work experience.

  • Your achievements: Your personal statement should tell your potential employer what kind of accomplishments you've achieved in your professional life. As a general rule, be sure to include all your academic achievements and your relevant training certifications. Also consider mentioning any other recent accolades you may have received such as relevant industry awards.

  • Your talents and skills: Detail the skill sets that you have acquired along your career path. Focus on specific skills that are relevant to the course or job to which you are applying.

  • Attributes you can bring to the university or company: Explain why you feel you would be an asset to the team or community. As well as mentioning your experience, discuss how you are keen to expand your skill set or work with a team that will help you further the employer's goals.

  • Your academic or professional goals: Outline how the job you are applying for will help you achieve your career goals and future plans.

Generally, a small paragraph is enough in the body of your personal statement for an employer, recruiter or CV.

6. Conclude your statement

End with a strong conclusion that summarises what you have already discussed and will leave a lasting impression on your reader. The conclusion should remind the potential employer of the most salient points and make them want to choose you as a candidate. Strengthen your conclusion in the following ways:

  • Begin with a strong opening rather than “in conclusion” or “in summary.” You need to express that you have a clear idea of where you are going with the conclusion.

  • Emphasize the attributes you have already mentioned rather than bringing in something new.

  • Express your long-term academic and/or professional goals as well as your short-term plans.

  • Briefly summarise the main points of your personal statement.

  • Refer to your introduction and what initially made you want to apply for this course or position.

End your personal statement on a positive and enthusiastic note. This will give your reader the impression that you are sincere and determined in your application. Usually, your personal statement conclusion for a job should be condensed into one or two sentences. This helps the hiring manager quickly decide how you might fit in with their organization.

7. Proofread and edit

When you have completed your personal statement, take a break from it for about ten or twenty minutes, then come back and read it through. It's crucial that you take the time to proofread and edit your statement. Make sure that you also submit your statement without any spelling or grammatical errors. Reading it aloud can help you notice any mistakes and will also enable you to hear how your statement flows. Look for things to eliminate and improve. These could include the following:

  • Grammar and spelling: If you're not too confident about a spelling or grammatical rule, run your statement through grammar-checking software or get someone to look it over.

  • Repetition: Make sure that you haven't duplicated information in different sections of your statement.

  • Passive voice: Use the active voice in your personal statement as often as possible. This helps make it easier to follow and helps to keep the reader's attention.

  • Wordiness: Keep your language simple, clear and easy to understand. You can use some complex vocabulary if it fits within your general writing style, but make sure the statement continues to flow smoothly and naturally.

  • Honesty: Be authentic throughout your statement. Employers who read thousands of personal statements are likely to notice exaggerations, so it always helps to maintain a true account of who you are and what you can offer.

It may help to have a friend or colleague read your statement out loud to you. This could help to identify any areas for improvement that you might have missed. They may also be willing to give you some helpful feedback, allowing you to write a personal statement that impresses employers.

Explore more articles