A professional statement, also sometimes known as a personal statement or resume summary, is one of the most important documents you write when applying to schools or jobs. An exceptional personal statement can increase your chances of admission or getting a job offer.
It provides an opportunity to demonstrate to a prospective employer or school that your skills, experience and previous education have prepared you to excel in their program. In this article, we show you how to write a compelling professional statement and provide examples and a template to help you start writing.
What is a professional statement?
A professional statement or personal statement is a written account of who you are, what interests you and what your goals are in life. In business, a professional statement is a brief paragraph that summarizes your professional accomplishments. In academics, a professional statement is typically longer, although it’s still a short essay that introduces you to a selection committee.
Employers and universities use the personal statement to learn about candidates, and you can use it to boost your chances of selection. They want you to show your academic qualifications, interests, motivation and other important factors that qualify you for the position.
When you apply for scholarships and graduate studies, the main requirements for qualification are your personal statement, your GPA and your letters of recommendation. The quality of your personal statement often carries more weight than the other two requirements, which makes it vital to get it right.
A thoughtful and well-written personal statement that is tailored to the school or employer can take some time and effort. Remember that no two personal statements are the same, as they are about your individual experiences and goals.
What makes a good professional statement?
A powerful professional statement can take different forms, but it must have the following attributes:
- A distinct message. A great personal statement delivers your narrative in a way that positions you as an ideal candidate for the program or job. To communicate your message with clarity, brainstorm about the key points of your essay and then refine it to the best of your abilities. Decide the most important points to address, such as success in work and school. Highlight achievements, such as being on the dean’s list or leading a team project. You can also talk about the wealth of experience you can bring and other relevant topics. Your essay should emphasize your positive qualities even if you do that by explaining some of your weaknesses. You can turn setbacks into successes by explaining the setback and the steps you took to overcome it. Demonstrate your strength and persistence.
- Specific illustrations. Great personal statements use specific examples to boost the narrative. Provide examples that demonstrate a genuine interest in the program or job, such as mentioning people who are breaking new ground in the industry, the trajectory of the field and how you intend to contribute to the body of knowledge. For example, if you want to study a particular insect, you can state that you love insects, but you also need to explain why. You can narrate an experience that opened your eyes to the features of insects that allow some of them to thrive even in the most unforgiving environments. Describe the specific insect you are passionate about and how your drive to understand its role in the environment led you to pursue a graduate degree in entomology.
- Your suitability. Your personal statement needs to explain what makes you suitable for the role or program and why it is the next step in your career or academic journey. Use this opportunity to highlight specific aspects that interest you and how those opportunities will empower you to become a better person for your field. You can also reference the works of specific faculty members that inspired you to apply for the program. This establishes your insight, understanding and passion for the field.
Impeccable writing. As with any formal essay or letter you write, your professional statement needs to well written. Avoid grammar and spelling errors and remove clichés from your writing by double- and triple-checking your work. If you are unsure, make several drafts and ask for someone you trust to read it and offer constructive criticism. Your statement should have a professional tone. Avoid casual statements and phrases, but make sure it is conversational. Work on your essay early so you have time to edit, proofread and deliver it by the deadline.
Tips for writing a great professional statement
The professional statement or personal statement plays a vital role in university and job applications. It offers an opportunity to convince the admissions committee you are a good fit for the program, or the hiring committee you’d be a good fit for their team. Grad school programs often set word limits for personal statements, so make every word count. The tips below will help you write an exceptional essay:
- Ignore the word count in drafts
- Make it personal
- Write it early
- Focus on your strengths
- Make your introduction captivating
- Own it
- Be humble
Ignore the word count in drafts
Regardless of the target word count for your personal statement, create your drafts without worrying about the limit. When you start your essay, it can be difficult to try to stay within a certain number. Instead, write as many words as you need to tell your story, then narrow it down to the most important details in subsequent edits. Not only does this make your work easier, but it also improves the overall coherence and messaging of your personal statement.
Make it personal
Your personal statement gives you the chance to reveal qualifying attributes that are not apparent in your application and CV. You can explain how someone influenced your life, but try to keep the focus on your experiences. Use real-life examples of situations that will demonstrate the qualities the program wants.
Example: “In my final year at college, I lost my part-time job and scholarship and had no one to support me financially. Despite the huge toll these events took on my mental and financial status, I was able to maintain my 3.98 GPA. Now, I work for the top-performing company in the fintech sector. I mention this to demonstrate my preparedness to persevere in the face of adversity to achieve my dreams.”
Write it early
You might have plenty of time to write your statement, but it is best to work on it as soon as possible. The best personal statements require time, research, brainstorming, introspection and a lot of editing. It may take you over a month or two to finish a version that delivers your message in a way that resonates with the reader.
Sometimes, you may have to take a break from the essay for a while to get a new perspective or include a better angle. If you finish a draft, leave it overnight and review it in the morning. Share the draft with others for a different perspective.
Focus on your strengths
A great personal statement will sell you to a program. It is like a sales pitch that highlights the attributes that qualify you as a worthy candidate. Concentrate on your knowledge of the field, your experiences and your projections for the future.
Example: “My undergraduate studies prepared me well for my profession. Understanding the role of truckers and fleet companies gave me a unique insight into the workings of the logistics industry and how to improve the conditions of drivers, my organization’s bottom-line and customer satisfaction. Working in this industry opened my eyes to the impact of overregulation in the transport sector. I believe there is an urgent need for regulators to come up with creative reforms to transport laws, improve driver welfare and create more awareness on the challenges of trucking.”
Make your introduction captivating
Your introduction is one of the most important elements of your personal statement, so make it powerful. You can start with an interesting or unusual experience that ignited your interest in the field. An emotional opening that focuses on a personal story can also give a good impression and encourage the committee members to continue reading your story.
Example: “In 2004, my family woke up to find our dog was giving birth. She delivered five puppies, but acted like more puppies were coming. We waited for a little while, but nothing changed. We took her to the vet’s office where they were able to deliver the last puppy via cesarean section. The veterinarian saved not only her life but her puppy’s, and I vowed that day to become a veterinary doctor so I could pay it forward someday. My love for animals has increased significantly since then, and I believe a degree in your foremost V.M.D. program will let me do what I love doing most: caring for animals.”
Personal statements are unique essays that differ from person to person. They are supposed to define your experiences and qualifications that make you the right candidate. There are many examples that can help you gain inspiration, but ultimately, you need to write a standout statement about your personal experiences. Write a compelling essay that not only shows who you are to the university or hiring committee, but also encourages them to invite you to the next stage of the admission or hiring process.
It is acceptable to highlight your positive traits, but most of your successes and achievements will be on your resume and application. Focus on your interest in the program, core values and personal experiences instead.
While a personal statement concentrates on your strengths, it also allows you to be transparent. You can mention weaknesses in your application and use the opportunity to highlight traits that enabled you to excel despite setbacks. Use your weaknesses to prove your dedication to excellence even when things do not work as planned.
Read more: How to Write a Powerful Personal Statement
Professional statement template for graduate school
Most personal statements should include specific paragraphs, such as why you are interested in the program, what qualities you have that align with the program and any interests that relate. Remember that a personal statement is about you and no one else.
Consider using this personal statement template when drafting your own for graduate school admission:
Personal statement for (X) program
The name of the school
Introduction. Your introduction should state your interest in the program and the university. Explain the experiences that made you interested in the field.
Section one: Education. Explain any education that helped you prepare for the program. Include specific courses and subjects and how they apply.
Section two: Additional research. Explain any additional research you conducted outside of school. Include any volunteer experiences or seminars you attended to learn more about your interests.
Section three: Work experience. Explain your work experience and what skills and knowledge you gained.
Section four: Hobbies. Include this section only if your hobbies apply to the program. Try to make it as relevant as possible.
Conclusion. Reiterate your interest in the program and the skills and experience that qualify you. This is also the time to include post-study aspirations if you have a specific career path in mind.
The format for your statement matters as well. Some programs have specific requirements, which you can find in the guidelines. If there are no guidelines, use a 12-point professional font, such as Times New Roman. Margins should be one inch all around. Make sure it is double-spaced and there are no additional spaces between paragraphs. Only include one space after periods. Personal statements also do not need a title.
Example professional statements
Professional statements, personal statements or resume summaries will vary depending on its intention. A professional statement could be a brief paragraph on your resume, or it could be a two-page essay included in your application for graduate school. Below are numerous examples of ways to write a professional statement.
Example professional statement for graduate school
Personal statement for master’s program in educational policy and analysis
Columbia College of Education
“I held my first college textbook when I was a 23-year-old college freshman. I know that’s not a traditional age for freshmen, but I wasn’t a traditional college student. Instead of living in a dorm room at 18, I was living at my grandmother’s house with my newborn daughter. No one in my family had gone to college; it’s not that we didn’t think it was important, but we could hardly afford our electricity bills. Because of her personal experiences being a single mother without a college education, my grandmother knew the despair of sinking so deep in debt that it felt impossible to make it out on your own. In our crumbling neighborhood and in our own family, she had seen many generations of people become stuck with insufficient education, and she knew she might be the only ticket out for me and my daughter. So when my daughter was old enough to go to elementary school, my grandmother encouraged me to go back to school too. She sold her car to help me pay for community college tuition and textbooks.
Using those textbooks, I studied hard, received top marks on my exams and earned a scholarship to complete my undergraduate degree at Indiana College, where I graduated with honors. I then returned my focus to our crumbling neighborhood schools, getting a teaching job at my daughter’s middle school and later an administrator role. I fundraised for better textbooks and applied for numerous community grants to lift our school to higher academic standards than I received as a student there myself.
My daughter is one of the many students in our district who need a properly funded education to lift her out of poverty—just as it did for me, giving me a new foothold in society. While teaching has been personally satisfying, I want to affect educational policy at a national level to assist entire communities of learners. That is why I am looking to pursue a master’s degree in educational policy at the Columbia College of Education.
I believe that information is the key to change, and the best way to affect change is by organizing and presenting information in such a way that it can make a difference. I look forward to classes such as Racial Perspectives on Early Childhood Policy, to which I can speak from personal experience as both a teacher and a mother to understand how to affect change on a local level.
I am determined to do my part in removing the roadblock of poverty from a student’s life. In graduate school and beyond, I look forward to using hard data to make radical, positive changes in the educational system and to learn from and contribute to the existing body of knowledge.”
15 example professional statements for business
Technical writer professional statement
“I am a senior technical writer with 10 years of experience writing software documentation, templates and user manuals to explain highly complex systems and processes. I am passionate about making my documentation both clear and efficient so users can understand these complex processes. I adapt well to the changing needs of businesses and enjoy researching new document management systems to streamline the revision process."
Design assistant professional statement
“Recent graduate from Missouri College with a Bachelor of Arts in Fashion Design looking to apply skills and passion for design in an entry-level assistant role. Spent the last five years designing and creating dresses to sell at the monthly St. Louis Arts Fair. Quick learner who thrives on challenges.”
Data scientist professional statement
“While focusing on statistics and analytics at my university, I worked in the financial sector through an internship at a major multinational firm. My education and this tactical experience helped me develop technical capabilities in data engineering and science. I have consistently proven my ability to meet deadlines and achieve project objectives, solve mission-critical problems and prioritize crucial tasks while maintaining the high standards expected of my role. I am currently seeking a position in an established data science firm to further my career goals.”
Marketing specialist professional statement
“Senior digital marketing specialist with extensive experience in e-commerce. Have experience working with several multinational brands in the development of global marketing strategies, improving market reach and coverage. Currently seeking a senior marketer position in an international firm.””
Project manager professional statement
“As a seasoned project manager who excels in identifying problems and finding solutions, I can save your company a considerable amount by speeding up project execution. My track record tells my story better than I can: I saved my previous employer in excess of $250,000 in the past three years by completing projects an average of 15% faster than my peers.”
Hospice caregiver professional statement
““Patient and detail-oriented caregiver with excellent communication and organizational skills seeking a position to provide personalized care to patients to improve their overall comfort, health and well-being. More than a decade of experience tending to patients in the final stages of their illness.”
Sales representative professional statement
“Results-driven sales representative with a decade of experience in B2B sales. Proven track record of closing multimillion-dollar deals in art and design markets and a reputation for adhering to the highest standards of personal and team excellence.”
Talent recruiter professional statement
“I’m a talent acquisition specialist with an interest in building the most effective workforces possible. For more than 20 years, I’ve helped hundreds of businesses find their perfect hires. I also consult companies on compensation, benefits, new hire processes and company culture.”
Career counselor professional statement
“I’ve helped thousands of job seekers land their dream jobs at Fortune 500 companies via my coaching programs. From resumes to cover letters and optimizing their presence online, I enjoy teaching people the science of crafting materials for every stage of their career.”
Business analyst professional statement
“Experienced business analyst with a background in project and team management, accounting and process engineering. I am always looking for new ways to mitigate risk, increase company efficiency and create new partnership opportunities.”
Trial lawyer professional statement
“Growing up in a working-class neighborhood of St. Louis, I developed a thick skin and a disciplined approach to problem-solving by discerning people’s interests and motives. This motivated me to study law to fight against bullies and injustice. In the past decade as a trial lawyer for Morgan, Brooks and Blake, I’ve developed a conflict resolution model that has won more than 90% of the time and always put my clients’ interests first.”
Teacher professional statement
“Elementary school teacher with 5+ years of experience managing classrooms of 20-30 students. Adept at using positive reinforcement teaching techniques to encourage student behavior and development. Looking to use my creativity and experience to engage at-risk students.”
Social media specialist professional statement
“Social media and branding specialist with a proven track record of increasing engagement across various channels. Experienced in public speaking and enthusiastic about teaching executives how to fine-tune their marketing efforts in the digital sphere.”
Graphic designer professional statement
“I’m an award-winning freelance graphic designer who has delivered creative and engaging solutions across brand identity, print, packaging, and digital media. My work has been featured in a variety of publications, including Folio, Arizona Byways and Beach Magazine.”
Neurosurgeon professional statement
“Compassionate medical professional with a specialty in neurosurgery and thrives in challenging work environments under extreme pressure. Proven ability to assess and investigate patient symptoms and make critical decisions on treatment. Committed to researching and making developments in the field to improve standards of neurosurgical practices worldwide through technological advances.”