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Career Advice

Guide to writing a Personal Statement

Every CV should start with a personal statement. This short paragraph is your opportunity to convince a recruiter the rest of the page is worth reading. It should consist of just 50 very hard-working words that will sell, at a glance, you and your skill set to a time-pressed recruiter.

Here's one crucial piece of advice to get the pitch right: do away with meaningless, clichéd statements. Everybody on the planet claims to have excellent communication skills and the ability to work in a team.Still feeling an overwhelming impulse to list out your virtues, from timekeeping to organisational expertise? Consider this:

"I am a committed and hard working individual who enjoys a challenge. In addition to strong communication skills, I am able to work effectively in a team. I can also demonstrate advanced problem-solving skills and thrive under pressure. My drive and ambition ensure I am a valuable addition to any company." 

Out of the 200 or so CVs stacked up on the desk, what evidence is there this particular candidate is worth investigating further? Remember, no recruiter is going to take your word for it. If the above skill set is genuine it will have been formed off the back of real experience, and that's the part employers want to know about. Try this:

"An ambitious and hard working individual, my significant tenures at highly respected companies are testament to my commitment and ability. I handle multiple tasks on a daily basis competently, working well under the pressure. Frequent acknowledgment of my contribution from senior management illustrates still further my potential value to your company." 

Not only is this candidate ambitious and hardworking, he has worked at some impressive companies for a good amount of time, proving his worth and dedication to both work and employer. If senior management has taken notice, this individual must be a high achiever who can juggle multiple projects under stressful conditions. It's a convincing pitch. The candidate has got around the clichés by linking them to tangible evidence and, in doing so, has got 50 compelling words to make his story worth reading. He has also stuck to the following best practice:

Don't start every sentence with 'I'. 
This is admittedly difficult when you're writing a paragraph all about yourself, but think carefully about how you might restructure your sentences to avoid it.

Address your audience. 
Whether it's "your company" or the company name, address the employer directly. Your words will instantly become more personal and relevant.

Don't think it, know it. 
Don't water down your words by stating you think you're a good candidate – tell them you know you are.

Edit ruthlessly. 
Force yourself to cut out as many unnecessary words as possible; the finished statement will have a far greater impact.

Follow this advice and you'll have a concise and powerful paragraph to make your CV impossible to ignore.

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