Resumes & Cover Letters

How to Write a Powerful Personal Statement

January 27, 2021

Prospective employers and universities may ask you for a personal statement that details your qualifications for a position or degree program. Writing a compelling personal statement is an excellent way to highlight your skills and goals to an employer or university. A well-written personal statement can give you a competitive advantage over other candidates and help you secure a new job or college placement. In this article, we discuss how to write an effective personal statement for your job or university application.

What is a personal statement?

A personal statement is an account of your achievements, talents, interests and goals often included in job or university applications or on resumes. Personal statements for university and jobs have similar content, but university personal statements are usually longer and more detailed. University personal statements are typically three or four paragraphs. When included in job applications and resumes, these statements are generally a single paragraph. Employers and universities may have their own requirements, so make sure to heed any word or character limits.

Related: When a Professional Degree Will Help You Advance in Your Career

How to write a personal statement

Breaking the task of writing a personal statement down into small, manageable steps can help you write a strong statement for a job or university placement. While your introduction, body and conclusion sections should be in that order, you can write them in any order that best helps you effectively write your statement. For example, writing your body first and then returning to write the introduction can help you craft a stronger opening because you already know what the rest of your statement discusses. 

The following approach ensures you include all essential components and make each sentence as effective as it can be:

1. Write a personal introduction

Write an introduction that reflects you and your personality. It should say why you are interested in the job or degree and, if appropriate, your recent experience with the job type or course topics. Starting a personal statement with sentences that show who you are can help encourage the recipient to read further. 

For a job application, consider addressing what first interested you in the position’s listing. Use a single, strong sentence to mention the most relevant aspects of your personality and interests in the role or company. For a university application, discuss what parts of the program or school align with your passions. Your university introduction should be a full paragraph.

2. Expand on relevant skills, interests and experiences

The body of your personal statement lets you share more about your relevant skills, interests and experiences. Write about personal details that relate to the job or course for which you are applying. You could write about the following elements, where relevant, in the body of your personal statement:

  • Your achievements and experience: Write about your degrees, certifications, awards, years of industry experience and positions you have held that relate to the job’s responsibilities or the university’s educational offerings.

  • Your relevant skills and talents: Describe the talents and skills you have learned during university or on your career path. Consider mentioning specific skills discussed in a job listing or values the school is looking for in students.

  • What you would bring to the organization: Discuss why you feel you would be an asset to the company or university. You can mention your experience or eagerness to learn specific skills, perform tasks or earn credentials in a field.

  • Your professional or academic goals: Write about how the job or course you are applying for fits into your dreams for the future. Consider selecting a specific goal the job or course can help you achieve.

Two sentences should be sufficient for the body of your job personal statement. You may choose two or three of the previously listed elements to discuss in those sentences to keep it comprehensive while also being brief. If your university personal statement is a general prompt asking about your interest and goals, the body of your college personal statement should be one or two paragraphs. A recent high school graduate may need just one paragraph, while someone applying for an advanced degree should write two paragraphs when discussing the professional experience and skills they have in their chosen field.

Related: How to Develop Your Skill Set to Advance Your Career

3. Write a strong conclusion

Craft a conclusion that leaves a strong, lasting impression on the prospective employer or university admissions officer. It should be a clear restatement of why you applied and what you hope to achieve with the experience. It should also persuade the reader to take action on you as a candidate, either reading through the rest of your resume or reviewing your other academic credentials.

In this final section of your statement, you can include:

  • Extension of your professional goals: Some statements for job applications may include specific reference to your goals and how the position can help you achieve those goals. For a university personal statement, reinforce how the school’s mission or coursework can prepare you for a career. In both types of statements, consider discussing relevant short- and long-term goals, such as what you hope to achieve in the school or position and where you see yourself in 5-10 years.

  • Summary of your personal statement: A brief summary of the main points in your statement can be an effective strategy for a one-sentence conclusion or one sentence of a larger conclusion. Be sure to connect your achievements, experiences and skills directly to your future contributions with the company or university.

  • Link back to your introduction: Revisit your introduction and what interested you in the position, school or degree program. Consider extending this idea by combining your desire with your qualifications. Ending a personal statement on your enthusiasm for the opportunity can influence a company or university to consider your candidacy seriously.

The conclusion of your personal statement for a job should be a single sentence, so consider selecting only one of the above strategies. Write a full paragraph for the conclusion of your personal statement for a university and consider using a blend of two or three of these strategies for a comprehensive and engaging conclusion.

Related: How to Write a Personal Statement on a CV (with Tips and Examples)

4. Proofread and edit

Once you have written your personal statement, take the time to proofread and edit it. Read your personal statement aloud to hear how your writing sounds and find areas of improvement, such as:

  • Spelling and grammar
  • Relevancy
  • Specificity
  • Passive voice
  • Clear phrasing
  • Simple, easy-to-understand language

Review your personal statement to find these areas yourself, and consider having a friend or colleague read it for you, too. This person can give you feedback on improving it in those areas.

Read more: 27 Proofreading Tips That Will Improve Your Resume

Tips for writing a strong personal statement

The best personal statements have a personal yet professional tone and relevant, direct information. Understanding what strong personal statements have in common can help you create your own. Keep the following tips in mind when writing your own personal statements:

  • Write in your own voice: Use your own words to describe your qualifications to make your statement feel more personal and uniquely you. 

  • Keep it simple: Short sentences and simple language can ensure your personal statement is clear and effective.

  • Have a positive tone: Use language that demonstrates your enthusiasm for the opportunity and gratitude for the reader’s consideration.

  • Use active voice: Active voice means using strong verbs that engage a reader and directly identify your accomplishments, which can make your personal statement more effective.

  • Be unique: Your personal statement should be unique to you, so discuss what makes you different from other candidates. Include specific details and brief examples of your experiences to help your personal statement stand out.

Powerful personal statement examples

Use these personal statements to help you write your own.

Personal statement for employment

The following is an example of a personal statement that could appear on a resume or in a job application.

“I recently graduated from the University of Indiana with a Bachelor of Arts in Fashion Design, and I would love to apply the skills I refined at university and my passion for fashion to your design assistant role. In addition to my studies, I have spent the last five years designing and creating dresses to sell at the monthly Indianapolis Arts Market. Seeing the excitement on my regular customers’ faces trying my new creations strengthened my commitment to a career in fashion. I am a quick learner who thrives on challenges, which I believe I would find at your design house.”

Related: 6 Tips for Writing a Great Graduate School Personal Statement (With Examples)

Personal statement for a university application

This is an example of a personal statement for a college application. Note that it is longer and more detailed than the personal statement for employment.

“I am applying for a position in your Master of Business Administration course because I’m passionate about advancing my marketing career and interested to learn more about management strategies. I first became interested in marketing while earning my Bachelor of Science in Business at Peru State College in Nebraska. I was fascinated by the way marketers could use images and text to persuade consumers to purchase products and the range of different modern marketing tools, including social media and virtual reality.

After graduating, I began working as a marketing coordinator with The Digital Eye. My eagerness to learn and try new methods saw me quickly progress through the company. As I moved from simple research and administrative tasks to coordinating marketing events and assisting with the creative process, my passion for marketing grew.

I feel I am ready to take the next step in my career and work as a marketing manager. Studying a Master of Business Administration at NYU Stern School of Business would help me gain the skills I need to transition into my desired role. I feel the coursework in leadership, production management and operation management would help me succeed in a managerial position. I also appreciate that your school offers online classes and part-time study. These options would help me devote the time I need to excel academically without compromising my performance at The Digital Eye.

I respect your school’s reputation for excellence and commitment to career development. I believe it would be a stimulating learning environment and a place where I could connect with several like-minded students. My passion for learning and exceptional academic and professional record would make me an asset to your school. I fondly recall my time at Peru State College and hope I can make more special memories studying at NYU Stern School of Business.”

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