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Stephen Rooney

Your personal statement is an important part of your CV. It’s one of the first things a potential employer or recruiter will see. So, to keep them interested, take a look at our guide for crafting the perfect graduate CV personal statement.

What is a personal statement on a CV?

A personal statement is a paragraph of around four to five sentences that appears at the top of your CV, just below your contact details. The purpose of this is to concisely tell a possible future employer or a recruiter:

  • Who you are
  • Your skills and strengths
  • Your career goals

Writing a personal statement may seem like a difficult task, especially as a graduate, when you have little experience, but it's not as hard as you think. We always recommend tailoring your personal statement to the job you are applying for.

How long should a personal statement be for a job?

Personal statements are all about getting the necessary information across with brevity. You need to keep it concise and straight to the point. A personal statement should be no longer than 150-200 words, or no more than four or five sentences. You may feel that you need to convey more information than you can summarise in this amount of words, however, this is best saved for the cover letter, where you will have more space to go into details about your skills and experience and why you are a great fit for this specific role.

Who you are?

How you write your personal statement is up to you, you can write it in third or first person, but do not mix the two; keep it consistent.

You should start off by saying who you are, which may look something like this:

“I’m a recent graduate with a 2:1 in Biochemistry from Bangor University, seeking a graduate role in …”

We recommend including your grade if it enhances your CV. If you don't think it's necessary or you need the space to highlight your skills, leave your grade out, as the person reading your CV can find it in the education section. You can also leave out the institute you studied at if you need this space for other important information, as this will also appear further down the CV.

What you can offer the employer?

The next couple of lines should be about your relevant experience. Make a song and dance about any skills that are highly relevant to the role you are applying for; remembering to always tailor your personal statement to the specific job. Once you have outlined your relevant skills, you’ll need to show when you've used those skills. For example:

“During my time at university and my year in industry, I developed excellent time-management skills, work well under pressure and detail orientated. As well as the above skills I have experience of working in a highly regulated laboratory environment”

Top tip: Use terms that employers or recruiters may be searching for. For example, if you're a computer science graduate and have experience with C++, make sure this is stated in your personal statement, as well as in the skills section of your CV.

Your career goals

For graduates, this can be tricky, especially if you are not sure which road you want to take. However, you don't need to panic and show an employer a 10 or 20-year career goal. No one is expecting you to have mapped out your life. You can, however, show what your short-term goals are and detail the skills you would like to develop if you were successful in getting a position in the organisation you are applying for. For example:

“I am looking for a new opportunity in an innovative company, where I can use and develop both my soft skills and technical skills, whilst using and continuing to expand my knowledge of biochemistry. “

How to write a personal statement when you don’t have any work experience

If you are entering the world of work after university, but do not have any work experience, don’t worry; there are transferable skills you’ve learnt while in university or in your extracurricular activities.

If you completed a STEM subject degree, it is likely you will have gained some technical skills as well as soft skills. Soft skills that employers are looking for include

  • Problem-solving
  • Critical thinking
  • Communication skills
  • Leadership
  • Teamwork
  • Work ethic
  • Time management

During your university degree or in any extracurricular activities, you will have used some, if not all, of these skills. In your personal statement, cover letter and CV, you need to demonstrate when and how you have used the skills that employers are looking for. They don't necessarily need to be directly related to work.

If you do have some work experience, even if it’s not relevant to this role specifically, make sure you mention this in your personal statement. For example, it might have been a part-time job whilst studying, or during holidays, working in your family business or volunteering.

Don’t forget about optimising your CV for online searches

In the digital age, most jobs are advertised online, and it's also where employers and recruiters look for potential candidates. Millions of people have LinkedIn accounts and have uploaded their CVs to various job websites. So, how do you stand out, by ‘keyword-optimising' your personal statement and CV?

Often, potential employers and recruiters will use role-related keywords to search for candidates on LinkedIn and job websites. Generally, recruiters are looking to fill a graduate job that requires certain skills or qualifications. So, if you are a biology graduate and a job requires DNA extraction skills, which you have, then make sure you add this information to your personal statement so that you will appear in searches that match this term. It’s important to research the accepted industry terms that relate to your skills, so you stand the best chance of high search visibility.

Graduate CV Personal Statement

For more CV advice, take a look at our in-depth guides on how to write a graduate CV and how to find a graduate job. If you want insights into what recruiters are looking for, read our post on 5 things recruiters look for on a graduate CV