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Career Advice

Should you include a personal statement on your CV?

Should you include a personal statement on your CV?

If you are looking for an out-and-out declaration of allegiance for one side from us, I am afraid you are going to be disappointed. This is not because we are especially comfortable atop the proverbial fence, but rather that the sheer cv imageassortment of job roles in existence doesn’t allow for the complete exclusion of one in favour of the other. So to give a few different perspectives on the matter (and to help you make up your mind) we take a quick look at some of the benefits of having a personal statement and offer a few words of advice on avoiding potential pitfalls.

The personal statement

Traditionally applicants have included a personal statement on their CV in order to describe a little about their level of qualification and what kind of job they are seeking. Generally these statements are approximately 2-4 lines long and intended to be the first thing (after your name) which the employer sees on your CV.  A simple personal statement might look something like this:

“I am an interior designer with 7 years’ professional experience, seeking a job as a senior designer within a well cv..established agency.”

However, in recent years this simple personal statement has begun to show its age, with many experts stating that it is an outdated method in need of updating or scrapping all together. In response to this shift in employer expectations, some have begun to advocate the bulking up of personal statements to include things like a qualification/skills summary and a general shift of the tone. Some would suggest it is now old fashioned to write a personal statement which focuses on what you want rather than what you have to offer as an employee.

But whatever type of personal statement you choose to write, there are a few benefits and limitations which have been put forward.


So it’s not surprising that there are a number of possible benefits which can come from having one, these include;

  • It can give a personal touch –  For employers, the initial phase of the recruitment process can seem like an endless stream of  personality free corporate documents – each as dull as the last. The personal statement can be a good and acceptable way to add a bit of extra personality to your application, especially when it creates a ‘voice’ throughout the rest of your CV.

  • It can summarise your intentions –  It might seem rather obvious to assume that because you have applied for cvimagea role, you actually want to get it…but this is not the case. Today it is so easy to apply for roles (online for instance) that some jobseekers simply send their CV in response to as many vacancies as possible in the hope of hearing back from at least a few, and employers know this. Therefore, a carefully worded personal statement can reiterate to an employer (and confirm in their mind) that you are genuinely in the pursuit of the role you have applied for.

  • It can quickly state what your contribution to the business would be – This is where you need to be careful that your statement matches up with the requirements of the role that you have applied for. Check the description of the job and try to create a sentence which sums up the general purpose of the role.

  • Gives an example of effective written communication –  Great communication skills are central to so many jobs nowadays yet the traditional CV offers little or no chance to exhibit this most fundamental skill during this stage of the process.  So it can be very useful to take this opportunity to demonstrate that you are proficient in written communication – but of course make sure that all spelling, grammar, punctuation and sentence structure are correct.

  • It can engage the reader and encourage them to give your CV closer consideration – However you must be careful again to ensure that what you include in the statement is directly relevant to the role you are applying for otherwise it could have the opposite effect.

How to avoid possible pitfalls

The vast majority of problems which arise from having a personal statement are not a result of the practice itself but CV-Mistakesrather the fact that they are often poorly executed. As with anything included in a CV which isn’t 100% necessary (such as a picture), if it is not properly considered and correctly used, it has the potential to do much more harm than good. If you do decide on including a personal statement on your CV, there are a few pointers which we think you should have a think about:

  • Always keep in mind what the purpose of the personal statement is – to give a very succinct summary of your most relevant past experiences, your specific skills, what you have to offer as an employee and the direction which you would like your career to take.  Use these points to structure your statement, ensuring that each has been addressed before making your application.

  • Don’t confuse a personal statement with a cover letter – check out our guide to writing a cover letter for some handy advice.

  • Don’t try to convince the employer that you are perfect for the role through your personal statement – it should support your application in convincing them that you are worthy of an interview. We say it very often, because it is true, during the application stage of a recruitment process attempting to include every single tiny detail you see as relevant can make your CV cluttered and confusing – much better that you judiciously state the the key points which have been requested by the employer.

  • Pick a pronoun and stay there – We reckon you would be very surprised how many personal statements begintop-tips in the 1st person “I” and switch to the 3rd “They” somewhere in the middle. Either pronoun is of course acceptable, however we would edge in favour of 1st person narrative  (you are writing a personal statement after all) – however in order to avoid the overuse of the word “I” try and use statements such as “As a recent graduate”  or “As someone who has dedicated their career…”

  • Be original and do not use clichés –  When completing a job application there is often an overwhelming temptation to include some tired and generic statements such as “I work well as a member of a team” which do nothing to further your cause – the same goes for personal statements.

  • Use the job description – Take this opportunity to show the employer that you have gone through the job description in detail and understand what the core requirements for it are. Not only will this help to demonstrate your suitability for the role but also it will ensure that you do not include any irrelevant material which might suggest your inability to understand the role.

  • Don’t use the same personal statement for every application – Of course it can be very beneficial to have a standard template which you use to create your individual statements, however like your CV, a personal statement needs to be amended and altered so that it is optimised for the role you are applying for.

  • Be very brief – Remember this is an introduction to you and your CV – not a rewording of it. Keep details to a minimum and avoid using too many examples – they are on your CV anyway!

  • Make sure that your statement shows what your have to offer as an employee and not just what you want. Of course it is perfectly acceptable to indicate the direction in which you would like your career to go, although you must frame this within a description of the qualities and skills you have to offer the employer.

  • Do not confuse the word “personal” with the word “Unprofessional”- This might be your opportunity to put a small amount of personality into your application but remember it is still a professional representation of you and what you have to offer.  Therefore it is very important that you avoid the use of colloquialisms, incorrect spelling/grammar, text speak and anything else which might cause the employer to question your legitimacy as a candidate.

Hopefully this has made the rather complicated subject of the of the CV personal statement a little bit clearer – don’t forget to go exploring and check out some of our other great application and interview tips and advice posts.


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