A critical aspect of creating an effective CV is writing a personal statement, sometimes called a profile or career summary, that enables the recruiter to quickly identify the strategic value you can add to their organisation. Your CV should be a self-marketing document aimed at persuading the recruiter to interview you – and your personal statement is a critical part of making this happen.
Many candidates struggle with writing the statement but it doesn't have to be a difficult as you may think. A well written statement can be between 50 and 200 words, although it is important not to ramble. Remember you always have your cover letter for interesting and engaging information.
It's important to read the job specification carefully and ensure not only that your skills and experience match but you reflect this in your statement. I am often asked whether a statement should be written in the first or third person and, while there are no definitive rules about this, my preference is always to write in the first person because the CV is all about you and your skillset. This doesn't mean that you have to add "I" at the beginning of each sentence, however. The reader knows it's about you so avoid this type of repetition and keep them engaged in your value and transferable skills.
For example an opening statement without the opening "I" could read:
As a highly-motivated and results orientated manager within the luxury hotel sector, I have a proven track record of providing exemplary levels of service to a broad range of guests, including VIPs and high-profile individuals.
This example reads naturally and flows for the reader, whereas if an "I" was inserted at the start, while not hugely different, it would read more like a list. As you move forward with additional information it then becomes difficult to break out of the format you have started.
As a general rule, it's best to break the statement into three sections:
Who you are
As recent graduate from Durham University, with a 2:1 honours degree in media communications, I have undertaken several internships within leading organisations such as Bertelsmann and Times Warner. These placements have enabled me to develop not only specific media industry experience, but also a valuable and transferable skill set in this fast-paced sector.
The above opening allowes the recruiter to quickly identify where you are coming from, that you have had industry experience (something that may be in the selection criteria) and core transferable skills. This in itself could be enough for your opening statement, but it can be expanded upon by adding some additional information.
What you can bring to the table
During placement with Bertelsmann, I worked in the media division contributing to projects – such as the award-winning China Max Documentary – and managed my own research, liaised with various divisions, formulated media reports and participated in group project meetings. Utilising excellent communication skills, I developed and maintained successful working relationships with both internal and external staff.
Your career aim
Looking to secure a position in a media organisation, where I can bring immediate and strategic value and develop current skillset further.
An example of a poorly written personal statement
Tim is a recent graduate from Durham University with a 2:1 honours degree in media communications. I have undertaken several internships within leading organisations. Tim is now looking to secure a position in a media organisation where I can develop my current skill set.
The mismatch of first and third person is not only confusing to the reader, but it almost sounds like a profile about different people. It also lacks specific detail and proof of what value the candidate could bring to the company.
Key points on writing a dynamic and interesting personal statement:
- • Get straight to the point: avoid lengthy descriptions and make your testimonies punchy and informative.
- • Keep it between 50 to 200 words maximum.
- • If you have enough space, use 1.5 line spacing to make you statement easier to read.
- • Match person and job specifications with well written copy.
- • Read your profile out loud to ensure it reads naturally.
- • Don't mix first and third person sentences.
Other essential resources
•Three excellent cover letter examples
•CV templates: graduates, career changers and ladder climbers
•What questions to ask at the end of your interview
•How to write a CV when you lack direct work experience
Elizabeth Bacchus is a consultant and founder of The Successful CV Company.
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When asking this question, interviewers are trying to get back to the essence of what the question was originally used for. They want to see if you are truly committed to a career. If you can demonstrate a clear career desire that aligns with the company’s goals, you can stand out amongst other applicants.
Points to Emphasize
In answering this question there are a few things that you should be aware of and do.
- If you have a mission statement on your resume, try to recant it as closely as possible.
- Tailor your response to the position that you are applying for.
- Show a desire to grow and establish a career.
- Make sure that you can provide support or proof for all parts of your statement.
Try not to make your answer lengthy, but be sure to paint a clear picture of your mission, and make sure that it coincides with the position you are applying for.
Mistakes You Should Avoid
Answering this question incorrectly can reflect negatively on you and hinder your chances of securing the job. Try to avoid the following mistakes.
- Do not give a general, predictable answer that could be applied to any position.
- Stay away from making your mission statement about the company.
- Do not give a short, vague response.
- Even if you are strong in certain skills, do not focus your mission statement on them if they do not relate to the position at hand.
Steer clear of these pitfalls and be sure that your mission statement highlights you and your applicable skills and traits.
A good answer to a question about your mission statement could sound like this:
My personal mission statement is to continue to learn and grow in my abilities, utilizing my skills, training and personal character to thrive in any position I hold, while striving to advance in the company and contribute to its success.
You want your personal mission statement to be concise yet versatile. It is also important to be truthful and be able to support your answer throughout the interview. If you do this properly, you can present yourself as a strong candidate and stand out amongst other applicants.