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Written by Rolf BaxRolf Bax

How to write a CV personal statement

23 min read
How to write a CV personal statement
Build a powerful personal statement and leave a positive first impression with our actionable advice and professional personal statement examples. Seal the deal to success and start your journey towards a job-winning CV today!

Unlock the secrets of crafting a compelling personal statement with our in-depth guide. We'll break down the essentials and show you how to make yours stand out. We'll also offer practical tips and real-world examples to help you create a statement that resonates with recruiters and hiring managers. Whether you're a seasoned professional or just starting your career, mastering the art of the personal statement is essential to unlocking your next career move.

What is a personal statement?

Your personal statement is more than just a summary of your qualifications – it's your professional story, told in your own unique voice. It's a chance to forge a genuine connection with your reader, whether that's a university admissions committee, a potential employer, or a scholarship board. Beyond listing your achievements, it's about revealing the experiences, values, and passions that have shaped you into the candidate you are today.

In Ireland, a well-crafted personal statement can be the key to unlocking a world of opportunities in higher education and the job market. Use it to showcase your unique journey, highlighting the moments of growth, the challenges you've overcome, and the lessons you've learned along the way.

Think of your personal statement as your chance to converse with the decision-makers. What do you want them to know about you that they won't find elsewhere in your application? What sparks your curiosity? What drives you to succeed? What makes you the ideal fit for their programme or position?

Don't be afraid to let your personality shine through. Infuse your writing with authenticity, passion, and a touch of creativity. By sharing your story in an engaging and relatable way, you'll leave a lasting impression and demonstrate why you're the ideal candidate to invest in.

How to format a personal statement

While there's no one-size-fits-all template for a personal statement, it's crucial to pay attention to formatting to make a positive impression. Typically, personal statements for institutions should be around 500-750 words, although specific requirements can vary. 

Use a clear and readable font like Times New Roman or Arial, size 12, and ensure your document is double-spaced with standard margins. Divide your statement into paragraphs, each focusing on a specific aspect of your story. Use headings if appropriate, and proofread meticulously to eliminate any grammatical errors or typos.

 Your personal statement on a CV should typically include:

Consider the following personal statements:

Personal statement example for civil engineers: 

Example

“Analytical, innovative and experienced civil engineer with over eight years working in the structural engineering sector. Committed to designing and constructing safer structures to improve the lives of clients and communities. Highly skilled in a range of important civil engineering skills, including project management skills, engineering software skills and an understanding of hydraulic systems. Passionate about building a better Ireland and a better world.”

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Personal statement example for administrative assistants:

Example

“Highly organised and detail-oriented administrative professional with over five years of experience supporting clients. Proven ability to manage complex calendars, streamline communications, and optimise office workflows. Adept at using various software suites (e.g., Microsoft Office, Google Workspace) and prioritising tasks effectively. Committed to delivering exceptional service and ensuring the smooth operation of any team.”

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Personal statement example for lawyers:

Example

Dedicated and results-driven lawyer with a proven track record in Immigration Law. Skilled in legal research, drafting persuasive arguments, and advocating for clients in negotiations and court proceedings. Committed to upholding the highest ethical standards. Passionate about achieving justice and positively impacting the lives of clients and the community.”

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Remember, the presentation of your personal statement is just as important as its content. A well-formatted personal statement reflects your attention to detail and professionalism, making it easier for the reader to navigate and appreciate your story. Avoid using overly casual language or slang, and maintain a formal but engaging tone throughout. 

By adhering to these guidelines, you can ensure that your personal statement tells your unique story and showcases your ability to communicate effectively and professionally.

Expert tip

How do I start my personal statement? Instead of using a generic opening, dive straight into a specific anecdote or experience that captures your essence and relates to your industry. 

This could be a pivotal moment, a personal challenge you overcame, or a unique encounter that sparked your interest. By starting with a compelling story, you immediately engage the reader and leave them wanting to learn more about you.

Tailor your personal statement to the job description

A common mistake many job seekers make is using a generic personal statement for every application. Tailoring your personal statement to each specific job description is crucial to stand out. Employers are looking for candidates who not only possess the required skills and experience but also demonstrate a genuine interest in and understanding of the role.

Begin by carefully reading the job description and identifying the key skills, qualifications, and experiences the employer is seeking. Then, highlight the aspects of your background that align with these requirements in your personal statement. 

Use specific examples to illustrate how your past achievements and experiences have prepared you for the challenges and responsibilities.

Statistical insight

According to the Central Statistics Office (CSO), the employment rate in Ireland reached a record high of 74.2% in the second quarter of 2023. This is one of the highest employment rates since the series began in 1998!

Positioning your personal statement

The positioning of your personal statement within your CV is crucial, as it serves as your initial introduction to potential employers. It should be prominently placed at the top of your CV, just below your contact information. This ensures that it's the first thing recruiters see, capturing their attention and providing a concise overview of your key skills and career goals.

Avoid burying your personal statement within the body of your CV, as it could easily be overlooked. By placing it at the forefront of your CV, you maximise its impact and ensure it contributes to a strong first impression. 

Remember, your personal statement is your chance to make a compelling case for why you're the ideal candidate, so give it the spotlight it deserves.

Expert tip

Ensure your CV is concise and focused, ideally limiting it to two pages. Recruiters often have limited time to review each application, so make sure your most relevant skills and experiences stand out prominently. Use clear headings and bullet points to make your CV easy to skim and highlight your key achievements.

Write your CV personal statement last

Feeling overwhelmed about where to begin? Don't let writer's block hold you back! Start by focusing on detailing your work history and accomplishments. Once you've laid out your experience, you'll have a clearer picture of the skills and keywords that resonate most strongly with your professional journey.

Your previous roles and the job you're targeting can be the foundation for your personal statement. Take a moment to reflect: What responsibilities did you hold in previous positions? What skills did you develop that align with the requirements of the new role? Use these insights to inform the language and tone of your personal statement.

Often, the right words flow more efficiently when the rest of your CV is in place. Tackle this section last, and you'll find yourself better equipped to articulate your unique value proposition. Let your work history serve as a springboard, guiding you towards a compelling and authentic personal statement that captures the essence of who you are as a professional.

Expert tip

Think about mixing together what you're great at, what gets you excited about working, and how all that fits into where you want to go in your career. Always be honest about your professional background, but remember to add a sprinkle of creativity so your past experiences shine a light on your future. It's like telling your career story with a twist that points straight to your dreams. 

Personal statement examples

Your personal statement celebrates your unique journey and the unique blend of skills and experiences that make you, well, you. Resist the urge to borrow someone else's voice—this is your chance to showcase your individuality and let your personality shine through.

Think of your personal statement as a creative expression of your authentic self. Craft it with such a distinctive flair that your friends and family would instantly recognise it as yours. Imagine them reading it and exclaiming, "This is so you!"

Embrace your quirks, passions, and the stories that have shaped you. Let your words paint a vivid picture of who you are, what motivates you, and the value you bring to the table. When you infuse your personal statement with your unique essence, it becomes more than just a piece of writing—it becomes an unforgettable introduction to the remarkable individual that you are.

Before you begin writing your personal CV statement, check out our collection of personal statement examples to get a sense of different styles and formats: 

“Proactive Administrative Assistant with over 12 years of hands-on experience supporting executives at a leading Dublin-based financial institution. Skillfully managed complex itineraries, extensive expense reports, and synchronised communications and schedules across multiple business units. 

Eager to bring my refined office management expertise and sharp problem-solving abilities to an Executive Assistant position at cvapp.ie, where resourcefulness and dedication to efficiency are highly valued, especially in fast-paced, deadline-driven settings."

The above example achieves the following:

  • States their title in the first sentence, e.g. Administrative Assistant
  • Includes specific details, e.g. the name of the company they’re applying to, the position they’re applying for, and years spent in the industry
  • Succinctly sums up major responsibilities and skills
  • Highlights hard skills—experience arranging travel and expense reports—as well as soft skills such as resourcefulness and efficiency
  • Personalised to resonate with the goals and job description of the company

Here are some more great CV personal statement examples: 

Example

”Experienced Digital Marketing Manager with five years experience spearheading innovative marketing strategies that boosted inbound leads by an astounding 250%. Propelled online sales from €100,000 to more than €2 million within just three years. Keen to leverage my skills and propel my career forward as part of cvapp.ie marketing team, and contribute to company success.” 

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Example

“Savvy Social Media Manager with a decade of experience in B2C and B2B marketing. Proven success in expanding social reach, increasing client base by 35, and growing followers by 120%. Seeking a Marketing Manager role to leverage robust social media expertise in a broader marketing strategy and leadership capacity.”

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Example

“Copywriter with six years experience in a large e-commerce company. Produced content that grew brand social presence to over 700,000 followers across three channels and improved email open rates by 48%. Looking to further career by joining cvapp.ie as an SEO Assistant.”

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Example

“Enthusiastic Barista with three years of experience in a fast-paced Dublin coffee shop. Proven ability to deliver excellent customer service, prepare high-quality beverages, and maintain a clean, efficient workspace. Looking to expand skills and knowledge by joining The Dublin Hot Pot as a Barista.

Copied!

These examples are effective, direct, and centred on achievements while avoiding the use of "I". Again, the applicant has included important details such as their title and years spent in the industry, as well as key accomplishments substantiated with numbers to help demonstrate their impact.

Here are some less effective CV personal statement examples:

Example

“I’ve worked as a Digital Marketing Manager for five years. During this time, I have been an important and hard-working member of the team and a self-starter. I have shown that I work well under pressure, and I’d like to use my skills for a new role in digital marketing at your company.”

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The example above lacks specific details and fails to showcase any notable accomplishments. Additionally, the frequent use of "I" can come across as overly self-focused rather than demonstrating an understanding of how your contributions benefit the team or company. 

It's essential to strike a balance by actively describing your achievements and the potential value you can bring to the table. 

Example

Hey there, my name is Rionagh, and I've been cooking stuff for as long as I can remember. I've worked in a couple of restaurants and even did a stint at a catering company, which was pretty crazy, let me tell you. Lots of last-minute orders and demanding clients, but I always managed to pull it off.

I'm looking for a job where I can be creative and experiment with new flavours. I'm not afraid to get my hands dirty, and I'm always willing to go the extra mile. So if you're looking for a cook who's passionate about food and not afraid to have a little fun in the kitchen, then I'm your girl.”

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This example uses language that is unprofessional and overly casual. Additionally, this personal statement lacks specific details about the applicant's experience and uses slang and informal language. It also doesn't highlight any specific skills or achievements that would make the applicant stand out, and the repeated use of "I" makes the personal statement sound self-centred.

Example

"Hey, I'm a marketing pro looking for a cool new gig. I'm super creative and good at all that social media stuff. Hit me up if you want someone who can bring the fun to your brand."

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 This personal statement example lacks professionalism and fails to highlight specific skills or achievements. The casual tone might not resonate with all employers.

Example

"I am a highly motivated individual seeking a challenging position in a dynamic company. I have a proven track record of success and am eager to contribute my skills to a team-oriented environment."

Copied!

This example is filled with clichés and buzzwords that don't offer any unique insights into the candidate. It doesn't showcase any specific qualifications or experiences, and it uses clichės and generic terminology that runs the risk of boring employers.

What makes a weak personal statement?

Certain mistakes can undermine the effectiveness of your personal statement and jeopardise your application. One major one is relying on generic phrases or buzzwords that have become so overused that they've lost their meaning. 

These clichés can signal to recruiters that you haven't tried to personalise your statement, potentially leading them to move on to the next candidate. Instead, strive for genuine and authentic language that reflects your unique voice and experiences.  

Remember, your personal statement is your opportunity to make a memorable impression, not to blend in with the crowd. Additionally, don't hesitate to seek feedback from trusted friends, family, or mentors. A fresh pair of eyes can help you catch any errors, identify areas for improvement, and ensure that your personal statement shines.

Expert tip

Terminology may vary depending on the CV format you choose. While some templates might label this section as a "personal statement" or a "professional summary," others may not use any label at all. However, don't let this worry you – employers typically expect the opening lines of your CV to serve as your professional introduction, regardless of the specific title used.

What do employers want to see in your CV?

Step into the shoes of a recruiter sifting through countless CVs. They crave engagement from the very first sentence, seeking candidates who truly understand the role and can articulate their value. Your personal statement is your golden ticket to capture their attention and set yourself apart.

Tailor your introduction to resonate deeply with the hiring manager, establishing an instant connection. Don't just list skills; demonstrate your impact with concrete examples and quantifiable achievements. Abstract claims won't cut it – showcase how your contributions have made a tangible difference.

Remember, a lacklustre opening might signal a mismatch between your skills and the position. Focus on highlighting and aligning your most relevant experiences with the job requirements.

Craft a personal statement that achieves the following:

  • Instant appeal: Compel the hiring manager to view you as a top contender from the outset.
  • Memorable impact: Leave a lasting impression by showcasing your unique value proposition.
  • Quantifiable results: Back up your skills and experience with measurable outcomes, demonstrating your ability to deliver tangible results.

By crafting a compelling personal statement that speaks directly to the employer's needs, you'll increase your chances of landing an interview and ultimately securing your dream job.

Key takeaways

Your personal statement is a powerful tool that can leave a good impression on employers right from the start. Think of it as your professional introduction, a way to tell employers who you are and what you stand for in a simple, clear manner. 

When written well, your personal statement captures your professional essence and strengths, making people remember you for all the right reasons. 

Remember, your CV personal statement should ideally include:

  • A genuine and professional tone that accurately mirrors who you are
  • Key reasons why your professional background is a perfect match for the job role
  • How the role and job description are in sync with your long-term career objectives
  • Concrete evidence and statistics that substantiate and support your claims

To create a truly powerful CV that both impresses and engages employers, be sure to check out more professional personal statement examples on the cvapp.ie website! With an expert-approved online CV builder and expert-approved career advice, your job-winning CV is just a few clicks away!

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