Personal statement (also called personal or professional profile, profile summary or career overview) is a short paragraph at the top of a resume that summarizes a candidate’s relevant experience and skills in three to six sentences.
Considering that employers make decisions about candidates in a matter of seconds, this section determines how much time an employer will be willing to spend reading your resume.
Think about it this way:
If a resume is a movie, then this paragraph serves as a trailer for what’s about to come.
If the trailer is interesting, the chances are that the audience will be interested in watching the whole movie. Seeing this short preview won’t be enough to satisfy their curiosity.
On the other hand, if the trailer is slow, boring or something they've already seen a hundred times, the audience will yawn and skip to the next movie available.
The same works with resumes.
Those first sentences need to be the crown of your CV. They need to be informative, tailored to the job you’re targeting, and they need to do justice to your skills and experience. In other words, they need to convince employers that you fit the profile they’re looking for.
Sure, the personal statement itself cannot guarantee an interview invite, but surely it can increase the amount of time that a reader will be willing to spent with your resume. Consequently, this may lead to better chances of being invited to present your experience in person.
In the next 5 minutes, you’ll get:
Practical tips on writing your best personal statement ever
General guideline on do’s and don’ts when writing this statement
5 personal statement examples
>> All our resume templates already have a designated place for a personal statement at the top of a resume. Download a template, edit the text and you’ll be ready for your next job application in no time! <<
1. Write a personal statement at the end
It’s hard to summarize something until you know what is the content that needs summarizing.
That’s why it’s best to save writing a personal statement for the end. So first write down the entire overview of your experience, education and skills. When this is done, go through the whole document and pick the things that stand out – especially in terms of achievements. That’s the content that deserves a place at the top.
2. Customize it for each job you’re targeting
The general version is a great starting point. It helps you structure all relevant information in a concise way.
But that is not enough. When it comes to personal statements, one size doesn’t fit all.
Even an inexperienced recruiter will be able to recognize a generic introduction that has been sent out to every company in the city. If this is the impression you kick off with, the chances are that none of them will give you a call back.
This is a more time-consuming solution, but it's one that can translate into a significant number of interview-invites coming your way.
To make your life easier, you can prepare a couple of versions – one for each career path you’re considering. Still, this might not entirely fit the bill, so always cross-compare your resume with the job description, to ensure that you have all the main requirements covered.
3. Make it concise
Keep the personal statement short and sweet. A good measure to consider is that it should range between 30 to 75 words.
If you are not sure about having a block of text in your resume, you can use a bullet pointed list.
Feel free to play with formatting, but either way, the personal statement shouldn’t take up more than four to five rows in a document.
4. Include numbers
If there is one thing that can set your resume apart from other candidates in those first sentences, this is quantifying your achievements.
The majority will vaguely describe their experience and career aspirations. But that’s not exactly what employers want to see in a resume. You might be surprised, but this section is not about you. It’s about employers and how they can benefit from hiring you.
Since the previous experience is often considered to be the best predictor of future success, the best way to show your value is to present what you’ve been able to achieve in the past.
Tell them what you have accomplished before and they’ll believe that you are the right person for the job.
When it comes to including numbers, think about some of the following:
revenue or return on investment you generated
number of team members you’ve managed
NPS or other measure of customer satisfaction
number of customers you support per day/week/month
number of clients you’ve coached
amount of time or money you’ve helped company save
At first, you may not be able to think of any targets or metrics. If this is the case, ask yourself ‘How do I know that I do my job well?’. The answer to this question will help you focus on achievements that can be measured and quantified.
5. Mention company or job you’re applying for
Everyone wants to feel special. Employers are not an exception. They want to see that someone has put time and effort into writing a job application crafted just for them.
There is no easier way of showing this than naming the company in the introduction. It’s a simple trick, but rather effective.
Here are some additional do’s and don’ts
Make sure you answer the key questions. Who are you? What are you expert at? What can you bring to the role? Structure your personal statement using these questions as a guideline and you’ll ensure you maintain your focus throughout.
Focus on your key strengths. For each job, pinpoint two to three key strengths that are relevant for the job and build your personal statement around them. You don’t have to share all your strengths and skills. If chosen well, two to three will be enough to grab the employer's attention.
Avoid clichés. ‘Passionate’, ‘proven track record’, ‘thinking outside of the box’, ‘goal getter’, ‘multi-tasker’… There is a list of resume buzzwords that are so over-used that they’ve lost any meaning and employers simply overlook them. Or – in the worst-case scenario – reject applicants with such words. Stay on the safe side and fill your personal template with keywords that actually hold meaning and can be backed up with evidence.
Make sure that your personal statement is mistake-free. Your grammar and spelling must be on point. Grammarly can help. But it’s even better if you can get your grammar-expert friend to double check.
Don’t do this:
Don’t just list your traits. Instead of saying ‘I am results-oriented sales manager with a proven track record in exceeding targets. I am also focused on customer satisfaction.’ Prove those statements by turning them into achievements. For example, you could write this ‘Results-oriented sales manager awarded for overachieving sales targets by 60%+ in the last three quarters. Increased customer satisfaction score from 4.9 to 8.4 in nine months.’ This is how a powerful personal statement is written.
Don’t start every sentence with ‘I’. In fact, you can completely take out the pronouns. It’s your resume. Employers will know that you are talking about yourself. At the same time, you’ll save some valuable space and make your personal statement more concise and action-oriented.
Don’t lie or embellish. If you don’t meet all the requirements, don’t try to include information that you cannot back up, just to improve your chances of being invited to the interview. The chances are that this will be revealed during the hiring process.
Don’t try to be funny. There is no guarantee that readers will have your sense of humor. Keep it professional.
So… what should a personal statement look like? [If you’re looking for a template – it’s here!]
When you put all of these suggestions into practice, you should get a concise, powerful, informative, action-oriented, achievement-filled, mistake-free masterpiece.
If you still struggle with creating a personal statement, just plug the keywords into this template:
<adjective 1> and <adjective 2> <current job title> with more than <number> years of experience in <industry 1> and <industry 2>. Extensive experience of <area of expertise 1>, <area of expertise 2> and <area of expertise 3>. A strong <key strength 1> combined with the ability to <skill 1> and <skill 2>. <action> resulting in <outcome>. Currently looking to broaden experience/use existing skill-set in <specific industry/company/role>.
Word-for-word examples of personal statements
Personal statement for accountants
ACCA-certified and analytical accountant with more than 10 years of experience in FMCG and banking industry. Experienced in developing cost saving practices, budget management and forecasting. Strong commercial awareness combined with the ability to analyse and produce high quality management reports within tight deadlines. Identified payment oversight which resulted in $400K+ saved. Looking for an opportunity to use my skill-set in regulatory environment.
Personal statement for recruiters
Customer-focused recruitment consultant with more than 5 years of experience in IT industry. Extensive experience of leading end-to-end recruitment processes, managing HR projects and consulting internal stakeholders. Strong communication skills combined with the ability to adapt to changing requirements and to re-prioritize with ease. Recruited 200+ candidates with 75%+ six-month retention rate. Looking to broaden experience as a Recruitment Manager at XYZ.
Personal statement for social media assistants
Creative and tech-savvy social media assistant with 2 years of experience in delivering social media campaigns (Facebook, Instagram and Twitter). Strong analytical skills combined with an ability to gather market insight and advise on social media trends. Optimized company’s website SEO resulting in 154% increase in organic traffic in 6 months. Extensive experience of preparing campaigns, optimizing SEO and writing content for social media.
Personal statement for internal auditors
CIA-certified Internal Auditor with 8+ years of experience gained in the retail and banking industry. Experienced in performing risk audits, optimizing existing business processes and reporting to C-level executives. Strong analytical skills applied to detect deficiencies resulted in $1.2M and 400+ working hours saved per year. Currently seeking to apply my skills in the Process Optimization Manager position at XYZ.
Personal statement for administrators
An experienced HR Administrator with 7+ years of experience gained in Fortune 500 companies. Extensive experience of managing administrative tasks for HR departments, liaising with clients and managing multiple stakeholders. Excellent organisation skills and advanced knowledge of all Microsoft Office programs. After part-time volunteering at a local charity to refresh my skills, now seeking to continue my career on a full-time basis as the Office Administrator at XYZ.