What is a Personal Statement?
You may be tempted to skip over this tip, but I strongly recommend that you don’t – It’s quite short, and it may change the way you approach your personal statement.
To answer the question “what is a personal statement”, I’m first going to tell you what it isn’t.
Your personal statement is not an abridged version of your life story. It’s not a collection of anecdotes that are loosely related to the position or course you’re applying for, and it’s not an opportunity to demonstrate your intellect and charm.
In fact, it’s not even an opportunity to detail your relevant knowledge, skills, achievements and experience.
It’s a sales letter, pure and simple, and you’re the product.
And like any good sales letter, it’s more about explaining to your potential future employer or educational institution how you will make their lives better. If that sounds overblown, it shouldn’t – that is literally what your reader will want to know.
Applying to university? They want to be sure that you’ll help them maintain their results/employment statistics, and also fit in with social activities on campus and also potentially get involved with sport or clubs etc.
Applying for a low-mid level job? Your future boss wants to know that you’ll do a good job, you won’t constantly be off sick or asking for their help, and you’ll add value to the workplace.
Perhaps you’re applying for a senior or director-level position – Well, the board of executives are going to want to know how you can help the company achieve its objectives, and ideally keep the shareholders happy.
Of course you want to prove that you’re the best candidate. Of course that requires you to explain your relevant skills, knowledge, experience and achievements, and relate them to the requirements of the position. But ultimately you’re trying to sell yourself, so you’ll need to provide hard evidence of how you’ll make the reader’s life easier and/or better.