What is a CV personal statement and what do you put in it?

CV personal statement

What is a CV personal statement?

A CV personal statement is a few lines explaining your personal strengths, work experience and career goals which sits at the top of your CV, under your contact details.

Also known as a ‘personal profile’, it explains important stuff about you like your career direction and experience so far, and what your goals are for your next job. It’s a short paragraph of info that shows employers why you’re amazing!

Perhaps you’ve heard of UCAS personal statements? The difference is that UCAS personal statements explain why you’d be perfect for that place at uni. A CV personal statement shows employers why you’d be perfect for a job. Moving on…

What to include in a personal statement

(Featured examples are taken from http://www.kent.ac.uk/careers/cv/CVProfiles.htm)

First, start off with a sentence about you. Have it say something about your education and your career goals. You can do this even if it’s your first CV and you have no work experience yet – but if you have done some relevant work experience, it’s really good to mention it.

Example:

An adaptable and responsible graduate seeking an entry-level PR position which will utilise the organisational and communication skills developed through my involvement with the school magazine and promotional work during the holidays.

Next, include a line or two about the skills and qualities which make you suitable for the role. Make them as specific and relevant as possible (e.g. time management, planning, decision-making, business awareness, persuading and negotiating, spoken and written communication, leadership skills, problem-solving skills, language and computing skills, teamworking).

Example:

During my degree I successfully combined my studies with work, showing myself to be self-motivated, organised and capable of working under pressure. I have a practical approach to problem solving and a drive to see things through to completion. I enjoy working on my own initiative or in a team. In short, I am reliable, hardworking and eager to learn and have a genuine interest in PR.

If you can sum yourself up in a few lines like this, well done – you’ve now written your personal statement and can move on to writing the rest of the CV! If you’d like a few more tips and tricks, read on…

Need help with writing your personal statement?

If you’re finding it hard to brag about yourself in a formal way, you’re not alone. Everyone finds it hard! Try keeping these tips in mind:

Keep your statement short and to the point – under six lines or 150 words is perfect, no need to pad it out. A CV should never be longer than two pages anyway, so keep plenty of room left for your academic and work experience!

Do you want to write about yourself in the first person (“I”) or third person (“they/he/she”)? Choose one and stick to it. Want to see them in action first? Here are some examples:

  • First person: “a highly motivated and quick learner, I combined my studies with on-the-job training”
  • Third person: “a highly motivated and quick learner, they/he/she combined their/his/her studies with on-the-job training”

If you’re not sure, you might find first person (“I”) a bit easier.  But third person (“they”) makes it sound more like someone else’s high opinion of you, not your high opinion of yourself. Employers are used to seeing both formats, though, so you won’t lose brownie points either way.

Stay away from clichés, like ‘good team player’. If this is the first CV you’ve ever written, you may not know which clichés employers are tired of seeing yet! If you’re not sure, search online for ‘good CV personal statement examples’. Use the examples you find as inspiration to show off your strengths in a way that’s formal but also uses your own words.

Include a sentence or two about the type of work you are aiming for. This means you could end up with more than one CV if you are applying for more than one kind of job. If you’re torn between getting into engineering and PR, say, then have a CV for each one and tweak your personal statement to match. This extra bit of dedication could make all the difference in bagging an interview!

Seen a job you like and you’re just about to apply for it? Don’t send your old CV off with your application just yet. First, look over that job ad with your trusty magnifying glass (not literally, Sherlock). See what words the employer has used in their job ad. Now see if you can repeat those words in your personal statement and show why you have the skills, experience and qualities the employer is looking for.

Example:

If a job ad asks for people who are “organised and able to work under pressure”, your personal statement could say:

During my apprenticeship I combined studies with on-the-job training, showing me to be organised and able to work under pressure.

This nifty little trick proves to employers that you’ve really listened to their needs, and have a genuine passion for getting the job. Unsurprisingly, they love that.

CV personal statement examples

Here are some great opening lines to use as inspiration for your own masterpiece, whether you’re a school leaver or a graduate.

“I am looking for management training which offers me the opportunity to develop new skills while strengthening those I already possess.”

“A hardworking individual with strong problem-solving skills, I have recently completed my A-levels, achieving excellent grades in Maths and Science. Seeking an apprenticeship in the engineering industry to build on a keen scientific interest and start a career as a maintenance engineer.”

“A responsible graduate seeking an entry-level sales position which will utilise the promotional and communication skills developed through a recent sales internship.”

HOT TIP: The example at the top would work well if this is your first CV. The second one down can be adjusted to reflect GCSEs or their equivalents instead of A-levels (always go with your highest level of education achieved).

Final checks

How’s your personal statement looking now? Does it tell an employer who you are and what you can do for them? Does it mention the type of work you are aiming for? Does it make a big deal of your skills and achievements? Have you checked spellings and grammar? Have you read it out loud to yourself to make sure it reads naturally and makes sense? Finally, does it all sound just a little bit too good to be true or can you justify all the nice things you’ve said about yourself if you’re asked in an interview?

If you can say ‘yes’ to all of the above, pat yourself on the back! You have now mastered the art of writing good personal CV statements. Go forth, grasshopper, and conquer the world – one job application at a time.

For further information: Contact us by phone on 01536 680916 or email us at info@youthemployment.org.uk

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