by Michael Cheary
OK, so putting a personal statement together is never easy…
But even if you’ve written one before, how you write a personal statement will always depend on your current situation. In other words, what you write as a school leaver will look a lot different to someone who has many years of previous work experience.
To help you find the right one for you, here are some real personal statement examples – and how you can use them to make your CV stand out:
Free CV Template
Download Free CV Template
University personal statement
First things first: personal statements aren’t just for your CV.
They’re also a key part of the UCAS application process, and a way to sell yourself to prospective universities. However, they will be much more detailed – and longer – than the one you write for a job application.
We’ve covered everything you need to know about personal statements for university here.
School leaver personal statement example
All personal statements should be tailored to the role in question. No exceptions.
Start by answering the following three questions: Why do you want to work in this industry? What skills make you right for the role (hint: use the job description)? And where do you want to go in your career?
However, school leavers should always focus on the latter – and what you can bring to the business, as well as focusing on the knowledge and skills gained through education, rather than employment history. Soft skills are also a great place to start.
A highly motivated and hardworking individual, who has recently completed their A-Levels, achieving excellent grades in both Maths and Science. Seeking an apprenticeship in the engineering industry to build upon a keen scientific interest and start a career as a maintenance engineer. Eventual career goal is to become a fully-qualified and experienced maintenance or electrical engineer, with the longer-term aspiration of moving into project management.
School leaver CV template
Graduate personal statement example
Similar to a school leaver personal statement, but with extra attention paid to specific things you’ve studied during higher education.
Once again, try and explain why you’re applying and where you’d like to go in your career, as well as the specific skills or knowledge you can offer. But try and drop in a few more details on your degree (projected grades are fine), as well as particular modules that have inspired you to work in this profession – if possible.
And remember: a personal statement written for a CV differs greatly from one written for a university application. If you haven’t written one before, you should start by reading our tips on how to write a personal statement.
A recent business economics graduate with a 2:1 honours degree from the University of X, looking to secure a Graduate Commercial Analyst position to use and further develop my analytical skills and knowledge in a practical and fast-paced environment. My career goal is to assume a role which allows me to take responsibility for the analysis and interpretation of commercial data for a well-respected and market-leading leading company.
Graduate CV template
Unemployed/redundancy personal statement example
Dealing with redundancy is never easy. But when dealt with in the right way, it needn’t be a hindrance when making applications.
Put the main focus on your employment history, and provide further information for your break in your cover letter. You don’t even necessarily need to mention it again, if you’ve already explained it elsewhere.
Remember, your personal statement is intended to sell yourself. So emphasise your positives rather than apologising for a negative.
Driven Retail Manager with over ten years’ experience in the fashion industry. Proven track record of success, including managing the top performing store in the region, and having the lowest staff turnover rate of all UK outlets. Currently out of work due to company closure, looking for the right opportunity to bring my expertise to a well-established fashion brand in an upper management position.
How to: Deal with redundancy
Redundancy CV template
Career break personal statement example
There are many good reasons someone may need to take a career break.
Some possible examples could include parental leave, caring for a family member, plans to travel or long-term illness. However, whatever the reason for your own break, it’s never something you should feel the need to justify to a prospective employer.
In fact, knowing how to explain a gap in your CV is mostly about confidence. So leave any extra explanation for your cover letter and focus your personal statement on your career before the break – and any skills learned during your time off which may be applicable to the role.
A highly motivated and experienced PA, currently looking to resume my professional career after dedicating the last five years to raising a family. Excellent admin skills, thorough knowledge of all Microsoft Office programs, as well as proficiency in minute-taking and extensive experience liaising with clients. After volunteering for one day a week with a local charity to refresh my skills, now fully committed to continuing my career on a full-time basis.
Career break CV template
Career change personal statement example
If you’re changing industry completely, think about any transferable skills and applicable to the sector you’re moving into.
Any numbers you can give to demonstrate your success could be crucial – even if you’re moving into an area where your expertise may seem slightly different. So always aim to back up your claims with real examples.
Focus on one or two achievements, demonstrate the impact they had, and you’ll instantly start adding value to your application.
As an experienced sales manager, my tenacious and proactive approach resulted in numerous important contract wins. My excellent networking skills have provided my team with vital client leads, and my ability to develop client relationships has resulted in an 18% increase in business renewals for my current organisation. After eight years in sales, currently seeking a new challenge which will utilise my meticulous attention to detail, and friendly, professional manner.
Changing careers: What you need to know
Career change CV template
If you’re still not sure of what to write, don’t panic.
Crafting a winning personal statement will take time, especially if you haven’t written one before. Use these examples as a loose structure to follow, and you’ll be able to add to them as your experience grows.
And remember: you should always aim to edit your personal statement for each role you apply for. That way, you can ensure you’re really selling yourself to their role, rather than simply sending the same generic statement for each application.
It should only take a few more minutes to complete. But if it’s enough to attract an employers interest, it will be time well spent in the long run.
How to write a personal statement
Personal statement dos and don’ts
Read more CV help & tips
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Arguably the most important part of the application is your personal statement, included on page four of Form 56. This is your only opportunity to directly address the board and convince them to select you as an Air Force Officer. The rest of the application contains facts: your GPA, your AFOQT scores, your work history and biographical information. The personal statement is a block of text that is you addressing the board, selling yourself and making a case for why you’d make a good officer.
There is no standard format for the personal statement, and no required information. However, it should be a narrative format, not in “bullets” or one-line summaries of accomplishments.
I have seen the personal statements of quite a few selected packages, as well as provided feedback on many applicant’s statements. There are many ways to approach the personal statement, and most importantly it is your personal way of addressing the board and convincing them that you would be a good choice. I am not an expert, so take or leave my advice if you wish. However, there are some things that I believe can make your package stand out above others, which I will list below:
- Use all of the available space. If you were granted a five minute interview in front of the actual board, would you walk out after three minutes and call it good? Hopefully not. Download the actual Form 56 (Requires a free download of viewer software) and use it to type in your personal statement directly, or at least use it to see how much you can type. You’ll likely want to type it in Word or another word processing application so you can use spell check and other features to improve your writing.
Formatting is optional. My own personal preference and how I did it on my application was to include three spaces at the start of each paragraph. Some people simply include a wall of solid text that fills the entire block, others put blank lines between paragraphs. I found inserting a few spaces at the start of a paragraph provided the needed break between thoughts, without wasting space on blank lines to divide the paragraphs.
Sell yourself. A lot of the personal statements I’ve reviewed for people seem afraid to sell themselves to the board. This is your only chance to speak directly to the board and convince them to select you, don’t waste it by rambling about anything other than how great you are. Don’t be cocky, but provide reasons why you are awesome, and more importantly, how the Air Force will be better with you as an officer.
Don’t lecture the board. I’ve seen a lot of people write mini essays about what it means to be a leader or an officer. The board is made up of USAF colonels with 25+ years of military experience, they already know what it means to be a leader and an officer. What they want to know is why you would make a good one. Don’t waste a paragraph of text trying to explain that you know what a leader is. Show them how you are already a leader and how you plan to be an even better leader as an officer. I’ve seen personal statements that are basically a word-jumble of meaningless Air Force buzzwords like core values, warrior ethos, fly, fight, win, air power, and more. It sounded very disingenuous and hollow. The applicant was obviously trying to tell the board what they thought they wanted to hear rather than their own real motivation to join. The package was not selected.
Be specific. If you are enlisted, you already know that the Air Force loves numbers in EPRs and award packages. If you are a civilian, learn it now, the Air Force loves numbers. For example, say you led a project at work. Don’t say “Led successful project at work, customers were happy!”. Say something like “I led a team of 14 people on a new project at work which increased sales by 37%, leading to a profitable year at the company and accolades and a promotion from my boss”. This shows a direct correlation between you being awesome, and the results of you being awesome. If you only say you’re awesome without backing it up in some way, it has less impact.
Much of my feedback on personal statements that people send me is simply asking for more information about things they have already written. If you supervised people, how many did you supervise? If you made sales or raised money for charity, how much money? If you volunteered to pick up trash, how many pounds of trash? If you created a new process that improved efficiency, how much more efficient? It’s ok to estimate, your recruiter or education office representative isn’t going to ask for documentation to back up every single number, but obviously don’t exaggerate and lie about everything either.
Develop a theme for your statement. If possible, tie the opening and ending into a common theme. For instance in my personal statement, I highlighted how the AF and prior leadership had made me feel like the AF is truly a family, after my commander and squadron provided amazing support to me during a time when my child was going through very serious medical problems. I finished up the statement by saying that I felt being selected as an officer would allow me to pay back some of the debt I feel I owe to the Air Force for helping me through that time, and that I also believed I would have more influence to help others that were in my situation if I were selected as an officer. A common theme likely won’t make or break your personal statement, but those colonels are people too, and if you provide an interesting hook at the beginning that ties in nicely with your summary, it’s going to be more interesting to read and more memorable to help you stand out. If your personal statement starts with “I want to be an officer because…” you should probably re-think your opening and try to create a more interesting and personal hook.
Spell Chekc. Go over your statement again and again looking for typos and poor grammar. Send it to your friends and have them critique it. Print it out and read it upside down, which makes you spend more time on each word and can help spotting typos and errors. Read it out loud. Don’t look at it for a day or two and then pick it up again and try to read it as if you were critiquing someone else’s statement. I sent my statement to at least half a dozen people, asking for feedback. I didn’t follow every little tweak someone suggested, but took the best advice from each person which really increased the quality of my statement.
Don’t namedrop. This is more of a personal pet peeve of mine, but I’ve seen a lot people that like to tell the board their whole family history of who served in the military. “I want to serve because my family has a long history of service going back to the Civil War. My father is a retired Chief Master Sergeant, my uncle was a major in the Army Reserves, my grandfather was a lieutenant colonel in World War II.” That information is irrelevant to your application. The military status of your ancestors has no bearing on the type of officer you will be. Use that space to tell more about the awesome things you’ve done and will do rather than what your ancestors have done.
Choose your words carefully. The personal statement is only a couple of paragraphs long, so comb over it and analyze every word. For instance, instead of saying you “chose to become a recruiter”, say that you were “selected to become a recruiter”. It shows that it was a competitive process and you were selected above your peers for X reason. I’m not saying to get out the thesaurus and try to impress the board with big words, but word things in a way that it’s always showing how you are above your peers and great at what you do.