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How to Write a Powerful Personal Statement

A personal statement is a record of one’s accomplishments, skills, objectives and interests, included as a part of their job or university applications. Employers and universities require applicants to provide their personal statement so that they can have the details of their qualifications for the specific role or program. A well-drafted personal statement, highlighting your aims and capabilities can go a long way in helping you secure your desired job or college placement. Read this article to know how to write a personal statement that is effective and gives you a competitive advantage.

Questions to ask yourself before you write a Personal Statement

Your personal statement is either an account of your qualifications and capabilities or an answer to the prospective employer or university’s questions. Before you write your personal statement, here are some questions you should ask yourself:

  • What makes you and your life story different from other applicants?
  • Have you overcome any unusual hurdles in your life?
  • How did you learn about this field that you are interested in and what made you interested in it?
  • What have you learned about this field and why do you think it is suitable for you?
  • What are your capabilities or qualifications that make you better suited for this field than other applicants?
  • What are your career objectives?
  • Why should your prospective employer or university choose you?


How to Make Your Personal Statement Stand Out

A well-composed personal statement that highlights your qualifications and capabilities can help boost your chances of selection. Here’s how to write a good personal statement:


  • Plan before you write

Don't rush into writing your personal statement. First, make an outline of the different points that you want to include in your personal statement. Ensure that these points answer the questions that have been posed by the prospective employer or university and if no questions have been asked, be sure to include what your field of interest is, why you are interested in it and how your capabilities and qualifications make you best equipped for that field.

  • Format correctly

Your personal statement has to look neat and uniform. This is how to format a personal statement -  separate your statement into proper paragraphs, including an introductory paragraph and a concluding paragraph. Ensure that all the paragraphs are properly connected and your personal statement reads in a clear flow.

  • Make your introduction clear and direct

It is important to have a strong first introductory paragraph to capture the interest of the reader. Make it specific and avoid beating around the bush. Highlight the qualifications and capabilities which are relevant to the position or program you are applying for, in a concise manner.

  • Include examples (but make sure they’re relevant)

While giving a record of your accomplishments and activities, it is important to relate them to yourself. Make sure that your personal statement also talks about how those experiences helped you develop certain skills.

  • Put the ‘personal’ in ‘personal statement’

See to it that your personal statement does not seem generic and impersonal. Include your personal qualities and experiences, all the things that make you distinct and unique from other applicants. Refrain from mainstream methods, like using famous people’s quotes, and give your thoughts instead.

  • If you’ve done your research – brag about it!

It is important to show that your interest in the field is serious and that you feel passionately about it. Be sure to include any books you’ve read or courses you’ve taken that are related to it. Demonstrate your knowledge in the field but don't make it sound braggy.

  • Make your conclusion brief but informative

Make sure that the final impression you make is a long-lasting and good one. Use your conclusion to use themes that you have previously explored in your statement in a wider context and reaffirm the main message that you are conveying. Refrain from making the conclusion too long.

  • Proofread when you’re done

Check your personal statement for any structural or grammatical errors and then ask a friend or family member or colleague  to check it for any errors that you may have missed.


How to write a personal statement

A good personal statement can be a driving force for your selection for the role or program that you are applying to. How long a personal statement should be depends upon the specific requirements of the employer or university. Here are some tips on how to write a personal statement:


  1. Write a personal introduction

Make sure that your statement doesn’t seem impersonal by including aspects about your personality and experiences in the introduction. Clearly put across why you are interested in the role or program and how your qualifications and skills make you well-suited for it. If it is a job application, you can include previous job experiences and for university applications, you can include courses you have taken that increased your interest in the particular program.


  1. Expand on relevant skills, interests and experiences

Your personal statement should concisely communicate the skills, interests and experiences that you possess that set you apart from other candidates. Here’s some things you could include:

  • Your achievements and experience: You can write about any certificates, awards or degrees that you have earned, your work experience in different positions and the responsibilities that were assigned to you.
  • Your relevant skills and talents: Write about the different skills and capabilities that you may have acquired during your education or career, especially ones that make you best suited for the role or program that you are applying for.
  • What you would bring to the organization: Explain what aspects of the employer or university make you interested in the specific role or program and how you can contribute to their growth and vice versa.
  • Your professional or academic goals: Include your career or academic objectives and how the job or program you are applying for are going to be instrumental in achieving them.

You need not include all of these aspects in your personal statement as it will become a long and tedious read. Mention two or three of them and explain them briefly, depending upon the required length as specified by the prospective employer or university.


  1. Write a strong conclusion

Make sure that your conclusion makes a lasting impression and makes a strong case for your selection by the prospective employer or university. Connect it to the rest of your personal statement and end it on a compelling note. In this final section of your statement, you can include:


  • Extension of your professional goals: Write about your career or academic goals, both in the short and long run and then elaborate on how the employer and the university as well as the particular job position or degree program are going to help you achieve those objectives.
  • Summary of your personal statement: Be sure to tie your whole personal statement together with one sentence that summarizes it. This can be done with a sentence that links your skills and qualifications to your future goals.
  • Link back to your introduction: Include one sentence that links back to the introductory paragraph and your interests. This effectively combines your skills and qualifications with your objectives and also makes your personal statement look well thought out and planned.

Avoid writing a really long conclusion. Limit it to a couple of sentences.


  1. Proofread and edit

Never send your personal statement without proofreading it and checking for structural, spelling or grammatical errors. You can also ask your friends or family members or colleagues to read it. These are the elements you should check for:


  • Spelling and grammar: Don’t solely rely o spell-checking softwares and scrutinize your statement carefully to check for spelling and grammar errors.
  • Relevancy: Ensure that your personal statement is suited and relevant to the position or program that you are applying for.
  • Specificity: Don’t make your personal statement generic and ambiguous. It should convey your points concisely and directly to the reader.
  • Passive voice: Avoid writing in passive voice as it makes your statement seem impersonal and unsincere.
  • Clear phrasing: Don't use complex sentence structures or wordy sentences as they’re not easy to read and follow and may make the reader lose interest.
  • Simple, easy-to-understand language: Refrain from using confounding and ambiguous words or phrases and make your statement compact and clear.

Reviewing your personal statement to check for these errors is very important. Getting someone else to read your statement will help you identify errors that you may have missed out on. Their feedback will also help you improve your statement.


Tips for writing a strong personal statement

A personal statement should be direct, concise and should communicate clearly your skills and qualifications. Here are some tips on how to write a personal statement:

  • Write in your own voice: Refrain from using passive voice when you are writing. A personal voice will make your statement more distinct.
  • Have a positive tone: Make your personal statement sound enthusiastic and positive. Your statement should convey your eagerness to have the opportunity to work with that employer or study at that university.
  • Use active voice: Use strong verbs that show the reader that capture the reader’s attention and effectively communicate your capabilities and achievements.
  • Be unique: Don’t make your statement generic and mainstream. Add experiences and aspects about you that make you unique and help you stand out from the other applicants.


Powerful personal statement examples

Here are some examples of powerful personal statements:

Personal statement for employment

This is an example of a personal statement for a job application:

“I recently obtained my Bachelor of Arts in Fashion Design from the University of Indiana, and I  am very eager to use the skills that I have refined at my university and the passion that I possess for fashion at your design assistant position. Apart from my academics, I have been designing and creating dresses for the last five years, which I have sold at the monthly Indianapolis Arts Market. Witnessing the excitement on my customers’ faces, especially when they try on my new creations, has strengthened my commitment and heightened my passion for a career in fashion. I am a quick learner and I thrive on challenges, which I am sure I would encounter and overcome at your design house.”


Personal statement for a university application

This is an example of a personal statement for a university application, which is usually longer than that for a job application:

“I am applying for your Master of Business Administration course as I am passionate about marketing and would love to learn more about management strategies. My interest in marketing began when I was earning my Bachelor of Science in Business at the Peru State College, Nebraska.The way marketers use images and text that persuade consumers to purchase their products as well as the wide array of modern marketing tools, including social media and virtual reality have fascinated me.

After my graduation, I began working as a marketing coordinator at The Digital Eye, where my eagerness to learn helped me progress through the company. I quickly made y way from research and administrative tasks to coordinating events and assisting with the creative process, all of which made my passion for marketing grow.

I am confident that I am ready for the next phase of my career and work as a marketing manager. A Master of Business Administration at Stanford University would equip me with the skills required and I feel the coursework in leadership, operation management and production management will be instrumental in helping me succeed in a managerial position. The online classes and part-time study options offered will help me focus on academics without compromising my performance at The Digital Eye.

I respect your university's reputation for excellence as well as commitment to career development. I am confident that it will be a stimulating learning environment and  help me connect with like-minded students. My passion for learning and extraordinary academic and professional record make me an asset to your university."


Personal statement starting tips

Here are some tips on how to start a personal statement:

  • Make an outline of your personal statement before you start writing it
  • Write a great introductory sentence that is direct and captures the attention of the reader
  • Communicate your personal characteristics, experiences, hurdles overcome and skills and qualifications relevant to the job or program you are applying for.


Mistakes to avoid while writing your personal statement

These are some common errors that you should avoid in the beginning:

  • Refrain from using quotes of famous people and make your statement personal instead
  • Don't write in a passive voice
  • Avoid using a negative or laid back tone
  • Don't use cliches
  • Avoid starting with complex or ambiguous words or phrases
  • Do not plagiarize