Those who are in university will know about writing the dreaded Personal Statement and those who want to go to university soon will. It for many is most people’s first experience at writing anything close to a formal CV with it containing education, skills etc as well as the 800 word personal statement. Well I have gone through it and since then have also drafted a few personal statements, I am by no means an expert but I thought I would share what I have picked up.

  1. Don’t be quick to dismiss things as irrelevant: if you help out a local Scout patrol you have shown commitment, responsibility, organisation and time keeping. If you have 5000 Twitter followers you have shown a brilliant ability to engage people. One of my favourite things I have come across was from my friend’s Personal Statement and it was that his Xbox gaming showed teamwork!
  2. Back up what you say: You may say you have great managerial skills but if you don’t show an example of this then how does the person reading it know that, the same goes with the classic ”team player” phrase. How are you a team player?
  3. Include additional training or certificates: If you have had first aid training or had training in grant making then it may not at first seem relevant training to include, if for example you were applying for a business course; however, people like to know that you have taken it upon yourself to develop additional skills.
  4. Striking a content balance: you don’t want to make it too long (maximum of 2 pages for a CV) but at the same time it shouldn’t just be a list of what you have done.
  5. Don’t play yourself down: If you have written for a newspaper or won a business award or been nominated to volunteer of the year then sing it from rooftops, don’t tuck it away in some list under Hobbies & Interests.
  6. Lay it out neatly and present it well: The lay out should leave plenty of white space, be clearly headed and in a legible font. It sent by mail then it should be a fresh copy, not something you have had kicking about since your last interview.
  7. Tailor your application: There is no such thing as a “generic CV” there is just a CV that some people believe can apply to all things when in actual fact it doesn’t really work brilliantly for any of them. Tailor your CV to what you are applying for making sure your experience highlights predominately the necessary skills for the job at hand. I actual tend to write an entirely new CV from scratch for each job I apply for but some may find that a bit OTT.
  8. Be confident: if you go into writing the CV with a positive attitude and confidence then your confidence and proficiency will come through in the language you use as a result of this.
  9. Spelling and punctuation: This may seem obvious but in a CV or personal Statement it needs to be perfect. I remember when visiting my university for a Law open day they said if there was one error they would automatically dismiss the application.
  10. Have faith: this isn’t really to do with the actual writing of the CV or Personal statement but you have to have faith that you can get the job or onto the course as if you don’t believe in yourself how are you going to convince others to believe in you? Aim for the stars and if you fall down keep trying, sure you may never reach the stars but you will get a damn sight closer than if you aim for the top of the stairs.
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