Tip 9 : Eyes on the prize

At all times, remember what you're trying to achieve. Whether it's a place at your first-choice university, an early promotion, or your dream job, you remember it throughout the personal statement writing process.

Believe it or not, this actually makes the writing process easier. Each time you wonder whether you should include, exclude or reiterate something, just ask yourself this question:

Does this give me a better chance of achieving my goal?

Should you include the fact that you play competitive rugby? If you're applying for a place at university, sure. Universities value extracurricular activities, and if you're good at it they'll want you to play for them. If you're applying for a position as a senior manager at a large tax firm, perhaps not: dangerous hobbies are often a turnoff for white-collar employers.

If something gives you a better chance of achieving your goal, it goes in your personal statement (so long as it's true!). If it doesn't, it stays out.

Tip 10 : Planning your personal statement

Not planning your personal is the quickest way to ensure you don't stand out. Worse, it could make you stand out for all the wrong reasons and undermine the sense of competence you're trying to convey.

What are you going to say?

How are you going to say it?

Why should you be selected?

By planning your personal statement in advance, you'll make the task of writing it much easier, and the result much better.

It's easy to tell when someone hasn't planned their personal statement in advance. Their paragraphs are muddled, their points aren't relevant to the job specification... The text seems to have been thrown onto the page, ordered only as it occurred to the author.

Don't look like an amateur. Plan your personal statement.

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