In resumes, every word counts. Everything you include in this one- or two-page document makes an impact on the employers' hiring decision.
Considering that recruiters spend only 6 to 10 seconds reviewing each resume, it’s needless to say that you need to make a great impression right from the start.
In other words, the information you put in the upper half of the first page of your resume, weighs more than the rest of it. This is where the hiring decision can already be made.
Unfortunately, if you don’t use this space to convince them that the rest of your resume is worth reading, they might never even glance at the second page.
To earn a fair chance with readers, the best way to start a resume is writing a personal statement.
In the next few minutes, you’ll find out:
Plus, you’ll get a plug-and-play personal statement template and a few examples for:
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What is a personal statement?
A personal statement, also known as a personal profile overview or career summary, is essentially – well – a summary of your career.
There are many names for the resume section, including resume summary or resume summary statement, career summary, professional profile or career overview.
Yet, all of them stand for the opening paragraph at the top of your resume that serves as an elevator pitch, outlining the most relevant experience, skills and achievements to grab the reader's attention.
This short intro paragraph at the top of your resume displays who you are and what you can bring to the table in a concise, engaging and effective way.
Considering that this section should be three to five rows long, it’s often the shortest part of a resume, and - at the same time – the hardest one to write.
Why is a personal statement important?
If there is a job posted, it means that the company is understaffed and they are in need of a person who can step into the role. Recruiters and hiring managers do their best to make the whole decision-making process about hiring as quick and efficient as possible.
While doing so, they don’t actually read resumes word for word.
Instead, they scan them, looking for keywords that can be a cue whether or not you’re a good fit for the position they’ve posted.
This means that if you don’t get them intrigued in the first few sentences in your resume, your resume will end up in the ‘no’ pile before they even get to your employment history and the amazing achievements that you’ve saved for last.
We are not saying that this is the best way to do it (author’s note – it’s most certainly not), but this is how it works in reality.
Put yourself in the recruiter’s shoes.
For each job posting, you get 100 – 150 applications. Typically, you manage 10-15 job vacancies at the same time. This means that 1000 – 1500 resumes are in the queue waiting for your review.
And hiring managers are constantly at your back, asking you when they can see the first list of suitable candidates.
Unless you’re a speed-reading master, eight working hours per day won’t be enough to read every resume and cover letter from top to bottom.
So, you’re in a position where you need to act quickly.
You’ll go through resumes looking for the first sign that a candidate is or is not suitable for the job – in other words, whether or not they are good enough to be shared further.
You’ll jump to their resume looking if they have relevant qualifications, the required years of experience and relevant knowledge, expertise or proven skills to perform the job.
If a resume starts with a generic personal statement, a dated objective statement (i.e. resume objective), irrelevant career objective or general career goals without any connection to the specific position you're hiring for, you’ll jump to the conclusion that the rest of the resume doesn’t bring anything valuable either.
This is how a resume earns a spot in the “reject” pile.
That’s why this part needs to be nothing less than perfect.
Related: Check out these practical tips and examples to perfectly describe your work experience.
What needs to be written in a personal statement?
At the beginning of your resume, readers are looking for keywords that prove you are qualified for the job.
To provide them with such information, in 30 to 75 words, your resume summary needs to provide answers to the following questions:
How many years of experience you have in the field?
What relevant industries have you worked in?
What are your areas of expertise?
What transferable skills can you offer?
What personal qualities do you possess that are applicable to the job ?
What have you achieved in your previous jobs?
Before you start writing your resume summary, read the job description carefully. All the job requirements are specified there. This information will help you determine what to cover in your own resume to highlight skills requested by the employer.
Your perfect resume awaits.
After reviewing the job description, in order to cover all of that in an informative and engaging way, the best recommendation is to apply past-present-future formula. It means your “personal profile” section should include:
PAST: Start with an opening line that summarizes your overall experience, it should include the information about years of experience, industries you worked in, and current position or most relevant job title.
PRESENT: Two to three sentences about what you currently have and can bring to the table. This is where you summarize your areas of expertise, hard and soft skills, and strengths. To take this to the next level, showcase that you have a proven ability to succeed by providing an example of an achievement that’s relevant to the open vacancy.
FUTURE: A brief sentence about your career aspirations or reasons for the application. This sentence is optional, as a majority of employers will assume that your career aspiration is to work at the position you applied for or that you applied for the job because, well, you need one. However, it’s good to keep this sentence in if you’re looking for a career change, relocation or an opportunity after a career break. Address it here, as they will be curious to find out the reasons and your motivation.
The key to writing a successful personal statement is in tailoring this short paragraph to each job application.
If you meet most of the requirements specified in the job description, and if you fill your personal profile with keywords you found there, you will grab your reader’s attention as they read the very first sentences of your resume.
They will be able to tick some boxes regarding requirements they are looking for, you will show them you are a great match for the role and consequently, it will increase your chances of getting shortlisted for the next step in the recruitment process.
Job seekers that fail to tailor their resume's personal statement to the open positions minimize their chances of being invited to job interviews and hinder their job search.
How to write the perfect personal statement?
If you're wondering how to write the perfect personal statement, with the help of the template below, the answer is - easy!
Just plug in the appropriate keywords and let the magic happen!
[TEMPLATE] Resume Personal Statement
<adjective 1> and <adjective 2> <current job title> with more than <number> years of experience in <industry 1> and <industry 2>. Experienced in <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>. Looking to broaden experience/use existing skill-set in <specific industry/company/role>.
Based on the template above, here are a few resume personal statement examples.
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-prioritise with ease. Recruited 200+ candidates with 75%+ six-month retention rate. Looking to broaden experience as a Recruitment Manager at XYZ.
Hello new resume, hello opportunities!
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, optimising 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 Optimisation Manager position at XYZ.
Personal statement for HR generalists
HR generalist with four years of experience in human resources administration for a Global 500 company in the automotive industry. Experienced in designing, managing and implementing cross-functional projects, preparing reports, and providing administrative support to the HR department. Saved $500K annually by negotiating contracts with HR vendors.
Personal statement for key account specialist
Dedicated key account specialist with 6 years of experience managing client relations. Experienced in analyzing complex customer issues and developing solutions to increase retention. Strong customer focus and ability to deliver exceptional service to business clients. Managed client relationships that brought in $2M per year.
Need more examples? Steal one of 85 done-for-you resume summaries.
How to write a personal statement if you don't have any experience?
If you are a recent graduate looking to hit the job market, writing an effective personal statement may be a challenge - but it’s not impossible.
The key to writing an effective personal statement in this case is to focus on your personal traits, natural abilities and skills acquired through your education.
Additionally, think about some academic achievements that might be evidence of skills required in the work environment, such as work ethic, organisation skills, communication skills, or the ability to be a great team player.
In this case, your resume personal statement could sound like this:
Business administration graduate at London Business School, with strong organisation and time-management skills gained through multiple extracurricular activities while maintaining high GPA (3.78). Seeking to apply strong theoretical knowledge about business organisation and management in a work environment as a Management Assistant at XYZ.
How to write the personal statement if you're looking for a career change?
For job seekers looking for an opportunity in another field or industry, unrelated to your current one, focusing on their previous experience simply won't cut it.
Instead, you need to focus on transferable skills to show your understanding of the skills needed to succeed on this new career path and to explain your motivation for applying.
To identify critical skills, focus on commonalities between the two career paths. Think about the following:
What kind of tasks, activities and responsibilities do they both entail?
What kind of skills do candidates in both fields need to perform successfully?
The answers to the questions above will tell you what needs to be highlighted in your personal statement.
Here is an example of an experienced branch manager with a significant management experience under his belt, applying for a role in the digital department to work on creating the bank’s new digital products or services.
Customer-focused and digitally savvy branch manager with 12+ years of experience in leadership roles at XYZ bank. Experienced in managing teams, coaching direct reports and providing bespoke service to customers. Through staff training, increased adoption of digital products by 47% in 3 months. Seeking for an opportunity to use understanding of customer needs to create new digital solutions as a Digital Product Manager at XYZ.
How to write a personal statement after a career break?
If you are looking to pick up your work where you’ve left it and continue on the same path, you can put the general template into use. The only difference is that you’ll need to address the career break.
There are many reasons for taking a break - from travelling, parental leave and raising a family, to taking care of a family member or a long-term illness. Whatever the reason was, don’t forget that you don’t ever need to justify or explain this to potential employers in detail. It’s personal and private.
Just provide a brief explanation in one sentence, in a way you’re comfortable with it, to avoid any unnecessary questions or concerns about the gap coming from employers.
An experienced HR Administrator with 7+ years of experience, currently looking to resume professional career after dedicating the last three years to caring for a family member. Extensive experience 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.
How to pick the best adjectives for this section and avoid clichés?
If you go through a hundred resumes, 75-85% resumes (based on our completely unscientific approximation) will start with 'self-' or 'highly-motivated individual.'
Instead of using the same resume buzzwords as everyone else and following the same path everyone follows (eventually leading to the same hole as most fall into), use those initial keywords to position yourself as a skilled expert in the field.
You'll get bonus points if you describe your traits in the same terms used in the job description.
For example, if a company is looking for a certified project manager with strong analytical skills instead of this:
Self-motivated individual experienced in project management
PMP-certified and analytical Project Manager with 7+ years of experience in managing business change, transformation and multiple projects within the banking industry.
Can you feel the difference?
If so, then you know what we mean when we say that every word in a resume counts.
Best keywords and phrases to use
Here is a list of additional, not-over-used adjectives you can include if appropriate:
Buzzwords and phrases to avoid
And these are buzzwords and phrases to avoid:
thinking outside of the box
proven track record
What to do next to create a perfect resume?
Having a compelling and tailored resume personal statement is important but not enough to win employers over. To write a resume that lands interviews, read the following guides:
Need 1:1 support from a resume expert? Explore the list of best resume services and find a professional resume writer to help you create a winning resume.
Personal Statement Summary
A personal profile overview, also known as a personal statement, is a summary of your career. This short intro paragraph at the top of your resume displays who you are and what you can bring to the table in a concise, engaging and effective way.
To start a resume on the right foot, this short section should provide readers with answers to these questions:
How many years of experience do you have in the field?
What relevant industries have you worked in?
What are your areas of expertise?
What relevant skills can you bring to the table?
What personal qualities do you have that are relevant to the job?
What have you achieved in your previous jobs?
It also needs to be tailored to the job and filled with keywords that speak to your skills and position you as an expert in the field.
When done correctly, a compelling resume personal statement skyrockets the effectiveness of a resume and success rate in a job search.
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Ana is a former recruiter, HR consultant, and founder of ByRecruiters.com. Her career advice and job search tools have been featured in Yahoo News, Jobscan, A Better HR Business, Starter Story, Best Colleges, and other global media. Since 2018, over 8,000 professionals worldwide have used her resume templates to land new jobs. She's on a mission to help 80,000 more.