How to write a personal statement + what to include

5 Jun 2024
Writing a personal statement can seem daunting, especially if you’re not sure where to start. But there’s good news: you’re not the first person to face this tricky hurdle. Better news: you’ve come to exactly the right place for all the help you’ll need to ace a standout personal statement. 

Whether you’re a student or a professional, if you’re looking to make a change, we’re here to help you nail your personal statement. 

What is a Personal Statement? 

First things first, a personal statement is a short, written document that is submitted alongside a university, college, or job application. In it, you explain why you’d like to study your chosen course or what stood out about the particular job you’re applying for, as well as what skills, talent or aptitude you have that makes you think you’d suit that choice or role. 

A good personal statement should include some personality and enthusiasm too. 

If you’re writing a personal statement for a job application, let the employer know what you can offer to the role in question. It’s your opportunity to really sell yourself so your statement stands out among the rest. 

A good Personal Statement includes: 

A personal statement doesn’t need to include your entire life story (and shouldn’t! Keep it brief and easy to read). It does, however, need to include why you’re applying and what makes you a good fit. 

Make sure your personal statement includes: 

The reason why you’re applying. Explain what interests you and how it fits into your plans for the future. 

What makes you suitable. Because you’ve picked something of interest to you, show what skills, talent or experience you have that links you to the desired opportunity. 

A little bit of who you are. If you’ve been involved in any clubs or teams or societies, mention this and make a link back to what you’re applying for. 
When it comes to the actual writing of the statement, try to frame your achievements in a way that appeals to the reader. 

Instead of: I enjoy playing chess and was a member of the football first team for 3 years. 

Say: My love of chess taught me the importance of thinking ahead and embracing challenges, and involvement in the football first team for 3 years gave me a chance to develop my teamwork skills and the experience to bounce back from losses with insights and learnings. 

How to structure a Personal Statement  

Technically there’s no exact right way to format your personal statement, since it’s unique to you and everybody is different. But a little bit of structure goes a long way, and this is a simple yet effective method to follow: 
Try to ensure your paragraphs are short and to the point. Sometimes a paragraph is only a sentence or two. 

Keep your writing style enthusiastic but don’t overdo it. You want to sound like your natural, upbeat self. This is a professional piece, so keep your writing professional. Personality, yes; humour and jokes, no. Definitely no slang or abbreviations. 

Take your time and when you’re done, check through everything carefully for any spelling, grammar or punctuation errors. Finally, proofread. Then proofread again. A good tip is toread your statement aloud to help you spot any mistakes. You could also ask someone else to take a look. After you’ve spent the time and effort to create an excellent personal statement, the last thing you want is for an unspotted mistake to slip through. 

University Personal Statements vs job Personal Statements 

Although similar, there are a couple of differences between writing a personal statement for a university application and writing one for a position in a company. 

Universities look for: 

University and college admissions tutors are looking for enthusiasm for the course on offer. They’re after clear and easy-to-understand reasons why you’d be suitable for it. As a default they want to find a basis to accept you rather than reject you, so use your personal statement to give this to them. 

Companies look for: 

If you are applying for a job, the company is looking for the person best suited to the role requirements. Because of this, you want to list the skills, experience and personal qualities you can bring to the role. Personal statements for job applications are tailored from company to company, so personalise yours to ensure your statement catches the recruiter’s eye. 

Both look for: 

Something short, clean and clear. Keep it concise! A personal statement for a job or university application should be around half a page long. 

Personal Statement Do’s and Don’ts 

When in doubt, here are a few rules to follow: 

Do:  Don’t:  Best of luck! Keep checking back on our page for more useful employment tips and tricks.

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