How To Write A Personal Statement For A Cv As A Student

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.

Example:

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.

Example:

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.

Example:

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.

Example:

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.

 

Example:

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

Final thoughts

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

 

Still searching for your perfect position? View all available jobs now.

Guest post: Beth Leslie

Embarking on your career after university should be exciting. But many graduates find themselves facing the same frustrating conundrum: you need experience to get a job, but you need a job to get experience. 

Luckily, the skills which employers value most are not only gained through the world of work. The trick to writing a CV with no experience is finding creative ways show you have the transferable skills needed to make you a fantastic hire. 

Wondering how to write your CV with no work experience to mention? Read on:

1. Identify your most impressive qualities 

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Writing a CV is essentially about putting together a personal sales pitch. The first thing to do, therefore, is figure out what you’re selling! Make a list of all the things you’re good at, regardless of whether they’re “professional” qualities or not. Then, match each item on your list to one (or more!) of the top skills employers look for. 

Are you a star on the hockey pitch? That’s teamwork and drive. Do you write a blog which always has your friends in stiches? You’re creative and good at written communication. 

2. Open with a personal statement 

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This will be the very first thing any potential employer will read, so getting it right is key. Top tip? Keep it as short and simple as possible. 150 words is about right. 

Start by introducing yourself with your education level and a top skill or two (“I am a hardworking and self-motivated recent graduate”). You’ll go into more detail later, so only add in your degree subject or university if you feel it’s particularly impressive or relevant to the role you’re applying for.  

Make sure you also set out what you’re looking for. If you’re applying for only one sector, this can be specific – “I’m looking for roles in PR” – but if you want to keep your options open, keep it general: “I’m looking for a role which will challenge me.”

3. List skills rather than roles

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Most CVs begin by listing the candidate’s most recent employment(s), but if you haven’t worked before or have only worked in unrelated industries, it’s much better to start your CV with a list of skills you’ve acquired. Employers will see them as much more interesting and relevant than your stint stacking supermarket shelves!

This is where that prewritten list of skills and examples come in useful. You can quickly cross-reference different experiences so you have multiple examples under each heading, with the evidence to back up your claims. Using examples makes a skill-based CV much more powerful – and believable! 

4. Don’t forget “obvious” skills

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Do you have a driver’s license? Can you use a range of software packages? Are you social-media savvy? Often, graduates leave out skills employers want because they think they are self-evident or unimportant. 

If you can do something which could be useful in the workplace, put it in. Especially applicable are computer programs you can use and languages you can speak (you don’t have to be fluent for it to be useful, but don’t lie about your ability).

5. Treat your extra-curricular activities like jobs

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Just because you weren’t paid for something doesn’t mean you didn’t gain valuable business skills from it. List your volunteer roles as you would a job – detailing the length of time you volunteered, relevant tasks you undertook and the skills you developed. 

Often, you’ll find extra-curricular roles are more similar to the graduate jobs you’re applying for than any casual work you undertook. Prioritize them as such. If you’re applying for copywriting roles, employers will be more impressed to hear that you wrote for your student newspaper than that you worked for a local fast-food restaurant.

6. Play up your degree

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Degrees are a great source of transferable skills. If you wrote a dissertation, then you can talk about your research abilities. If you gave presentations as part of your degree, you can claim to have experience pitching. You could also mention skills gained through group project work, independent organization and planning, and any specific knowledge relevant to the role.

Don’t make the mistake of leaving blank space in your CV just because you’re lacking in work experience. The experience section of any CV is simply a way to demonstrate how past experiences would be useful to a future employer. You’ll have plenty to draw on from your degree, so use it!  

7. Add some personality

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Run a marathon? Won an award? Skydived? Put it on your CV. 

Employers receive many applications for each graduate job. Standing out from the crowd and being memorable is a big boost towards getting called in for interview. 

If there aren’t any obvious professional skills related to an achievement or activity, don’t try and crowbar them in. Simply list the hobby under an “other interests” section and don’t bother to go into detail. The aim here is simply to be memorable, not to convince employers that jumping out of a plane has prepared you for their workplace!

Beth Leslie is a content writer for the UK’s leading graduate recruitment agency, Inspiring Interns. Check out their blog for more graduate careers advice. If you are looking for an internship or want to explore the graduate jobs London has to offer, head to their website. 

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