Writing the perfect personal statement….

Chalkboard - Writer's Block

If you are currently applying to job, graduate vacancy or for entry into a postgraduate course you will know that writing  a fantastic  personal statement is key to the success of your application.

personal statement  is your chance to tell the opportunity provider why you want the opportunity and why you are the best candidate for it. It is not overly ‘personal’ it doesn’t discuss your life journey or favourite hobbies. It is a targeted statement that showcases how your individual experiences, skills, motivations etc are relevant to the opportunity on offer. 

Writing personal statements can be tricky to master, especially if you are writing to a word, character or line limit.  Key to success is understanding your statements focus i.e. what /who is it for.  By understanding your  statements ‘purpose’ you will be able to; reflect on and identify what elements in your skills/experience history are relevant to highlight, and tell the opportunity provider about.

The other key to success is applying a good structure to your statement. Take your reader on a journey that has a  definite start,  a middle and end. Make it engaging  and ensure that it flows from one point to another.  Your basic structure will include: 

  • An introduction; that states why you are applying. Its a good idea to grab your readers attention by using punchy,  positive  and engaging language.
  • A main body of  text:  That states why you are the right candidate for the opportunity and links your skills, experience , motivation to the job or course on offer. It will also showcase great examples that will evidence those skills in action.
  • A conclusion: This is a short statement that provides an overview or  summary of what you have already told them.

Once you have  written you statement make sure that you take time to  review and reflect on it. Always have an objective friend proof read it and check for;  its relevance to the opportunity, spelling /grammar errors  and tone.  Other top tips for writing your personal statement include:

  • Do write in a positive, persuasive,  active tone with lots of great examples to evidence your main points. ( its a good idea to reflect the language used by the opportunity provider)
  • Do give yourself  a good amount of time to research and draft your statement before the deadline.
  • Do tailor your statement to match and reflect the opportunity.
  • Do keep your sentences short, concise and to the point and  keep your paragraphs small ( remember that dense  blocked text can be difficult to read)
  • Do check your spelling and grammar for errors.
  • Don’t think that you can write your statement in one attempt- draft several copies of your statement so that you can refine and seek others options on it. ( get them to check whether; you  have you expressed yourself clearly and that you have matched yourself well to the opportunity)
  • Don’t leave writing it to the last minute or cut and paste from other statements. This will lead to mistakes.
  • Don’t fill your statement with clichés,  weak phrasing, irrelevant facts or waffle ( avoid stating that you are ‘passionate’ ( it tends to be over used in personal statements) or that you ‘think’ you are good at something,  be positive and confident in your abilities…..)
  • Don’t use quotes, humour or make claims that are not true.

And remember that personal statements for employment  and entry into a further education course will be different in tone and focus. So always do your research and understand the purpose of your statement and the audience who will be reading it before putting pen to paper! 

Why not ask  the GSACareer Service for the ‘Personal Statement’ handout  or seek advice from the  GSA Career adviser about your personal statement approaches.Email for an appointment at careers@gsa.ac.uk 

Further Links and Advice

Personal Statements for Jobs 

Personal Statements for Courses


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