THE PURPOSE OF A PERSONAL STATEMENT Many application processes include a requirement to state why you believe that you are suitable for the job or course in question. This section of the application form is often referred to as a ‘personal statement’. It is your opportunity to convince the reader that you are interested in the position and that you have all the necessary skills and aptitudes to be successful in the role. WHAT SHOULD A PERSONAL STATEMENT COVER? The requirements for what you include in your personal statement can be very specific or quite general, for example: Specific: ‘Please use the space below to indicate why you feel that you are suitable for this post, including details of relevant experience and evidence of your ability to meet the selection criteria.’ General: ‘Please provide any additional information in support of your application in the space below. Continue on additional sheets if necessary.’ Whether you have been asked to address specific points in your statement or to write more generally, the underlying principle of a personal statement remains the same: to demonstrate that you have the right skills, knowledge and attitude to meet the requirements of the role. WHAT DO RECRUITERS LOOK FOR IN A PERSONAL STATEMENT? A good indication of what an employer is looking for in a personal statement is what they have identified as the key requirements of the role and the type of skills and experiences that are important. These are often identified in the ‘person specification’ for the job, which is a comprehensive list of all the criteria against which candidates will be measured.
Sample person specification
Criteria Qualifications & Experience A relevant professional qualification &/or at least three years‘ experience in a related field Relevant postgraduate qualification Personal Skills Ability to prioritise tasks and information appropriately Ability to communicate effectively with both clients and colleagues Good written communication skills If the details of the job do not include a person specification then you need to be resourceful in discovering what these criteria might be. You can usually pick up some ideas from the job advertisement. Sometimes you can find more details about the role from other sources such as the organisation’s website, or information provided by relevant professional bodies. For example, if you are applying for the role of a public relations officer for a large charity, you might look at the charity’s website to see what sort of work you might be involved in and the skills that would be required, or you might look at the website of the Institute of Public Relations for more information on the role in general. When a recruiter is reading a candidate’s personal statement, they are looking for the following key things: • enthusiasm • clarity of thought • ability to write clearly and persuasively • evidence of skills and knowledge relevant to the job • some awareness of what the role will entail as well as wider issues related to the organisation or career area • an idea of what you would contribute to the organisation or team. Essential Essential Essential Application form Application form/Interview Application form/In-tray exercise Essential Desirable Application form Application form Importance Method of Assessment
SOME TIPS ON CONTENT A good way to start planning the content of your statement is to consider the following questions: • Why are you interested in this post/course/career? • Why are you interested in this organisation? • How can you provide evidence that you have the skills required for the role? When answering these questions try to be as specific as possible. You need to offer convincing reasons why you have chosen to apply to the particular post and why you think you would be suitable. For example, it is not sufficient to say that you are interested in finance; you should be specific about what it is that interests you about a career...
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