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6 – The Personal Statement

We hope you now have a CV with your contact details at the top. Now you’re going to write a personal statement.

What is the personal statement and why is it so important?

Your Personal Statement is a few paragraphs explaining who you are (your personal qualities), what you’re good at (personal skills) and why you’re the best person for the job you’re applying for. Yours has to stand out from the crowd and must contain evidence (more on this later) to convince the employer that what you say is true.

A good personal statement will put you in the employer’s shortlist

Your personal statement should be to-the-point and relevant to the job you are applying for. It should demonstrate that you have all the skills and qualities that you'll need for the job.

Constructing the personal statement

We'll start by identifying the things you’ve always been good at. Examples are enjoying working outdoors, liking to help people, being good at mending things, etc. These are your personal qualities.

If you’re responding to a job advert, there will probably be a list of what personal qualities the employer wants. Use your personal statement to show how you have these qualities.

If you don’t have a particular job to apply for, look at this list of personal qualities and attributes. Think of the things you’re good at and enjoy doing. Find the five words in the left column that best describe you and copy them into the personal statement section of your CV.

Your personal statement should contain sentences like: "I am a motivated person, and I always try to improve my skills. I am creative and adaptable, and try to find sensible solutions to problems…"

Initiative Coming up with ideas on your own, solving problems in clever ways.
Confidence Dealing with new experiences, meeting people, being in charge, being sure of your knowledge and experience.
Decision-maker Deciding which things to buy, what to do, which people to ask to do things.
Enthusiasm Being passionate about something, persuading people to join in with something or to buy something.
Enterprising Making ideas happen, finding ways to earn money that others haven’t thought of, selling things.
Reliable Doing a job day after day without fail, being trusted to always do an important task, never giving up.
Team Player Fitting in well with other (sometimes difficult) people in a work situation, being versatile and able to lead or follow at different times, thinking of the needs of other people.
Adaptable Able or willing to change what you do and how you work in order to suit different conditions.
Caring Giving emotional support to others, able to understand how others feel.
Creative Producing or using original and unusual ideas.
Focussed Able to give a lot of attention to one particular thing.
Analytical Able to examine and understand things.
Discreet Able to keep secrets, careful not to cause embarrassment or attract too much attention.
Diplomatic Using tact and sensitivity in dealing with others, not losing your temper with people when they are being stupid or annoying.
Consistent Able to treat everyone equally, good at following a standard procedure in all situations.
Methodical Good at making sure everything is done properly every time, rarely making mistakes.
Motivated Interested in what you’re doing and always wanting to do a better job than you’ve done before.
Organised You know exactly where all your posessions are kept, you always have a pen, you’ve got your address book and diary all up to date and you’re never late.
Sensitive You understand what other people need, you can sense when other people need space, you know when to leave people alone.

Write your personal qualities at the beginning of the Personal Statement section of your CV.
Now you’ve made a start on your personal statement, save your document! Keep saving it as you work on it, so you won’t lose it if something goes wrong.

Personal skills

Your personal skills will be the most important thing a potential employer will look for. If you’re applying for a job which requires a certain set of skills, make sure you include as many of the skills they require as possible. Personal skills are things you have learnt how to do, like driving a car, using a computer, speaking a foreign language, cooking, building, etc.

Employers like to be spoon-fed.

“Spoon-feed” your employers. They’ve got lots of CVs to look at, so find out what information they want, and give that information near the start of your personal statement.

If you’re responding to a job advert, they will probably list the personal skills they want. Copy that list into your personal statement and use it as a framework for what you write. Your task here will be to match what they want with what you have done in the past, or with similar skills you already have (you will read more about “transferable skills” later.)

If you are making a general-purpose CV, choose skills that apply to you from the list below and copy them into your CV document. As you do this, think about things you have done in the past where you used these skills.

  • Knowledge of the job
  • Good time management skills
  • Problem solving
  • Customer service skills
  • Ability to work as part of a team
  • IT skills
  • Interpersonal communication skills
  • Negotiating
  • Technical skills
  • Decision making

Transferable skills

Transferable skills are skills that are similar to the required skills. You’ve done lots of things in your life, some of which have used skills you can “transfer” to a new job.

Examples of transferable skills include good time management skills, problem solving, ability to work as part of a team, IT skills, interpersonal communication skills, negotiating, technical skills and decision making.

SkillJobs you could “transfer” the skills to
Driving a car Learning to drive a lorry, fork lift, digger, etc.
Searching the internet Using databases, researching.
Looking after children Working as a teaching assistant, nursery worker.
Being physically fit Working as a builder, gardener, shelf stacker, delivery worker…
Buying and selling on E Bay Online shop worker, administrator, mail-room worker.
Organising holidays or events for friends Working as a PA, team leader or event manager.

If you haven’t been in paid work, think of what you’ve done and what you do, and what skills you use. Are you a parent? Looking after your children uses lots of skills! Do you have responsibilities in a club? Do you have hobbies that use skills? Were you involved in school projects? Do you play sports? Do you have interests that mean you learn new information or skills? All of these things are evidence of what you can do, and evidence is what you’ll need next.

If you have not had relevant experience, or you if you are straight out of school, don't worry! You can improve your chances by doing voluntary work, taking online courses and generally helping people out. Voluntary work often gives you chances to be involved in exciting and challenging projects and to learn some pretty impressive skills.

If you’ve come to the UK from another country, mention any extra languages you can speak if you think that might be useful in the job you want to do.

Now go back to your CV and add your skills to the personal statement section. Remember, pick the ones you can prove, and match them to the job description if you have one.

Next: 7 – EvidenceBack: 5 – Contact details

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