Personal Statement Examples For Application Forms

Easy writing makes hard reading.

—Ernest Hemingway

As a graduate student taking fiction writing workshops many moons ago, I recall what was most motivating to me as a creative writer. It wasn’t the reading of published or award-winning work, and it wasn’t the classroom critique given on high from the professor nor the scribble from my classmates on my manuscripts. All these things were helpful and valuable, but nothing motivated me more than comparing my fiction to the work of my peers. As I read their work carefully, both objectively and subjectively, I found myself thinking at times that I was sure I could write better than the others around me at the seminar table—then I’d read an artful, poignant story that made me wonder whether I could ever even compete.

Perhaps somewhere between these two attitudes is the most profitable approach when studying the work of your peers. In critiquing the work of others who essentially represent your competition, you should take a respectful stance both critical and kind, just as selection committee members are likely to do. The sample essays in this chapter represent personal stories that are intriguing, diverse, complex, honest, and humanizing. These samples present opportunities for you to study, admire, question, emulate, reject, and—most importantly—consider how to present the best, truest, most effective picture of yourself, carefully refined for the eyes of others.

 

You have a limited amount of time to make an impact on the reader (no more that 30 seconds to be precise) therefore the effect has to be immediate. A personal statement is usually situated at the top of a cv under your personal information and is one of the first sections of a cv that the reader will come across. There are various formats and types of cv that are useful dependant on the job role or your skill set, however almost all include a personal profile. In addition generally most application forms will also include a personal statement section.

“This is your banner heading summarising your main selling points" 

So what should this heading or opening paragraph include? 

  • A brief overview of who you are and what personal qualities you have to offer.
  • Reference to your skills ensuring they are specifically tailored to that of the position
  • Outline your areas of expertise and experience

In addition it should entice the reader to want to know more and go on to read the rest of your cv or application form.

How long should a personal statement be?

There is no definitive answer providing the information is relevant and interesting, however generally a profile will consist of between 30 – 60 words. No more than a few short sentences around 5 lines long.

How do we go about writing a personal profile?

  • Firstly you should think about compiling a list of descriptive words or phrases that you may wish to use when explaining the above mentioned bullet points.

Some sample words; Approachable, Analysed, Caring, Challenging, Creative, Diplomatic, Experienced, Flexible, Helpful, Influential, Inspiring, Motivated, Organised, Professional.

Some sample skills; Effective listener, Good at motivating others, Training, Writing, Public Speaking, Completing Forms, Cooking, Innovative thinker.

  • Your personal profile should be written in third person narrative, as written in first person will appear as only your opinion of yourself.
  • Compile a few short sentences combining your pre - selected words and key skills. It is recommend you have two versions of your profile, one which targets a specific job or industry sector and a general multi - purpose version which you can adapt dependant on your requirements. This will also help if you are applying for a range of different jobs. 
  • You must feel comfortable in explaining and justifying the points included and be mindful of not sounding “too good to be true”. 

It is not uncommon to be asked questions in relation to points included within your profile for example;

Q: You state that you are a good problem solver can you provide an example of a problem you have solved and how?

Q: You mention you are an innovative thinker, can you explain an idea that you have suggested that was successful? 

  • Where possible have someone proof read or help suggest points for you to include as it can sometimes be difficult to write in a positive and descriptive manner about yourself.

To conclude here are some example profiles and important Do’s and Don’ts: 

Do’s

  • Set the tone appropriately and word in a positive manner that will help precondition the reader.
  • Contain only appropriate and relevant information.
  • Keep it within the recommended length or you run the risk of waffling.

Don’t

  • Pigeon hole yourself to one type of person or profession (unless your intention is to achieve one very specific objective).
  • Include and information in relation to your life eg, married, single, age, how long you have been unemployed.
  • Go over the top, try where possible to keep it simple and do not include anything negative in this opening paragraph.

Example Profiles

A responsible, intelligent and experienced retail professional with an extensive background in fashion and children’s wear both in large departments and small boutiques. Highly creative, adaptable and bright individual with an excellent eye for visual detail and design.

A skilled and adaptable Project Manager, with experience in implementing and overseeing change. Has a proven track record of exceeding performance expectations, remaining customer focused and adhering to budgets and timescales. Ability to bring about the fundamental changes needed in response to changing commercial, legislative and financial factors. Strong strategic vision; along with the ability to successfully deliver complex multi-track projects.

An energetic, ambitious individual who has developed a mature and responsible approach to any tasks undertaken. As a Finance graduate who also possesses three years’ managerial experience, now seeks a senior financial management role. Has the ability to organise people and systems in order to achieve objectives and is used to working under pressure and meet strict deadlines.

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