What is a CV personal statement?
The personal statement for a CV, otherwise known as a personal profile, professional profile or career objective, is an important part of a CV that many job seekers get wrong.
It’s worth pointing out that this type of personal statement is very different from the personal statement that you might write for something like a university application.
Your CV’s personal statement is a short paragraph that sits at the top of the document, just below your name and contact details. Its purpose is to offer the recruiter or hiring manager a powerful overview of you as a professional, diving into three key aspects:
- Who you are
- Your suitability for the role and the value you can add
- Your career goals and aims
Research suggests that recruiters spend a mere six seconds reviewing a CV before deciding whether the applicant is a good fit. As the personal statement is the first section they will read, it must be powerful and tailored to the job you’re applying for to successfully showcase your suitability. If it’s not, you’re unlikely to convince the recruiter that you’re the talent they need, and they may move onto the next applicant.
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Length, formatting, and voice
An impactful and interesting personal statement should be clean and concise. It’s typically around four sentences long – that’s equivalent to 50 to 200 words.
Regarding layout, keep it consistent with the rest of your CV’s formatting. That means it must maintain the same font size, font type, and text justification.
You can add a ‘personal statement’ heading in the same way that you’d title the subsequent sections of your CV. However, if you’re tight on space, you can cut this formatting detail as recruiters will know what this paragraph is regardless of if it has a heading.
Something job hunters rarely consider is the voice or person they are writing in. The first person is acceptable for a statement, such as ‘I am an IT professional looking for a job in…’, as is the third person, for example, ‘An IT professional looking for a job in…’ Choose the point of view that is most comfortable to write in, but, as always, keep it consistent with the rest of your CV.
Top tip: If you’re writing in the third person, remove all pronouns. Otherwise, it sounds existentially awkward, rather than objective. For example, ‘She is a retail professional seeking a management role…’ would become ‘A retail professional seeking a management role…’
How to write a personal statement for a CV
We’ve looked at the purpose of a personal statement, what it should include and how it should look on the page. Now let’s zoom in on exactly how to write a winning statement.
When writing, keep in mind that your statement is your elevator pitch; it’s the equivalent of the ‘tell me about yourself’ or ‘why should I hire you?’ the question in an interview.
Part 1: Who you are
The first sentence of your personal statement needs to tell the prospective employer where you stand in your professional field and your career. Think about your current position of employment; what you like the most about your career, job or professional field; and your qualities that are valuable in relation to this vacancy.
Here is an example of what the introduction should look like:
As a successful digital marketing professional specializing in e-commerce, I have recently worked with several global brands in the sector to improve its marketing strategy and boost their reach.
Part 2: Your suitability to the role
The next part of your statement should draw on your achievements that line up with the requirements in the job description, aiming to prove that what you can bring to the table is relevant and impressive.
It’s always best to address the essential job specifications in your personal statement as you will make it clear from the beginning that you’re the right type of person for the job. For example, if the role requires a candidate with management experience or a degree in a certain subject and if you have these, say so.
Your second point may look like this:
I have experience in optimizing quality digital products via my most recent role and am therefore in tune with the latest developments across the online landscape. As a result, I have devised winning branding strategies for e-commerce businesses that are robust, customer-centric and set for aggressive growth.
Part 3: Your career goals
The last part of your personal statement should be short and snappy as it’s reaffirming why you are applying for this vacancy.
It might read something like so:
I am currently looking for a senior branding or marketing management role within the e-commerce sector where I can maintain my strong track record and deliver similar results.
Examples of CV personal statements
In addition to the samples above, here are a couple of complete personal statements examples so you have a decent idea of what yours should look like.
For a graduate, written in the third person
A recent graduate with a first-class Bachelors degree in Marketing from Zayed University, specializing in digital marketing. Holds commercial experience within the FMCG sector thanks to an internship with XYZ Company, and has developed email marketing skills. Has a proven ability to meet deadlines, prioritize, problem solve and maintain high standards having balanced a part-time job alongside studies over the last three years. Now looking to secure a place on a graduate program that will provide exposure to data science and career progression opportunities.
Addressing a recent redundancy, written in the first person
I am a skilled and successful product engineer within the automotive industry with a degree from Higher Colleges of Technology in mechanical engineering and seven years of experience in the sector. Having worked in a number of labs handling vehicle-based testing and mentoring development technicians, I am confident in managing teams in a hands-on environment and running new development projects from briefing to sign off. Currently looking for a role that compliments my skills and experience. Available immediately.
Pitfalls to watch out for
There are some common personal statement errors that you should avoid. Steer clear of these popular pitfalls or your statement may not be as powerful as you hoped.
Are you an extremely self-motivated, ambitious professional with extensive experience and passion for a certain industry?
Buzzwords are great, and you’ll find them in abundance in job adverts. But it’s best to sprinkle just a few through your personal statement as they don’t particularly provide evidence of your skill or ability. It’s much stronger to show the employer how you’re self-motivated and ambitious with an example.
A generic personal statement
Once you’ve written your statement, you might think that it will work for every application. For the most part, it will, because, in theory, the jobs you’re applying for will be similar and match your skill set.
However, you must tweak and tailor your statement (and your entire CV) so that it targets the skills each vacancy requires. Otherwise, it will be too generic and not impactful.
Keep it simple
As you begin to plan and write the personal statement for your CV, you’ll most likely find that you have a lot more to say than you originally thought. Be careful not to overwrite as you may be left with a statement that is clogged with too many adjectives and is clunky to read.
As a rule of thumb, highlight the best bits in your personal statement and save the expansion of details for your cover letter.