by Michael Cheary
OK, so putting a personal statement together is never easy…
But even if you’ve written one before, how you write a personal statement will always depend on your current situation. In other words, what you write as a school leaver will look a lot different to someone who has many years of previous work experience.
To help you find the right one for you, here are some real personal statement examples – and how you can use them to make your CV stand out:
Free CV Template
Download Free CV Template
University personal statement
First things first: personal statements aren’t just for your CV.
They’re also a key part of the UCAS application process, and a way to sell yourself to prospective universities. However, they will be much more detailed – and longer – than the one you write for a job application.
We’ve covered everything you need to know about personal statements for university here.
School leaver personal statement example
All personal statements should be tailored to the role in question. No exceptions.
Start by answering the following three questions: Why do you want to work in this industry? What skills make you right for the role (hint: use the job description)? And where do you want to go in your career?
However, school leavers should always focus on the latter – and what you can bring to the business, as well as focusing on the knowledge and skills gained through education, rather than employment history. Soft skills are also a great place to start.
A highly motivated and hardworking individual, who has recently completed their A-Levels, achieving excellent grades in both Maths and Science. Seeking an apprenticeship in the engineering industry to build upon a keen scientific interest and start a career as a maintenance engineer. Eventual career goal is to become a fully-qualified and experienced maintenance or electrical engineer, with the longer-term aspiration of moving into project management.
School leaver CV template
Graduate personal statement example
Similar to a school leaver personal statement, but with extra attention paid to specific things you’ve studied during higher education.
Once again, try and explain why you’re applying and where you’d like to go in your career, as well as the specific skills or knowledge you can offer. But try and drop in a few more details on your degree (projected grades are fine), as well as particular modules that have inspired you to work in this profession – if possible.
And remember: a personal statement written for a CV differs greatly from one written for a university application. If you haven’t written one before, you should start by reading our tips on how to write a personal statement.
A recent business economics graduate with a 2:1 honours degree from the University of X, looking to secure a Graduate Commercial Analyst position to use and further develop my analytical skills and knowledge in a practical and fast-paced environment. My career goal is to assume a role which allows me to take responsibility for the analysis and interpretation of commercial data for a well-respected and market-leading leading company.
Graduate CV template
Unemployed/redundancy personal statement example
Dealing with redundancy is never easy. But when dealt with in the right way, it needn’t be a hindrance when making applications.
Put the main focus on your employment history, and provide further information for your break in your cover letter. You don’t even necessarily need to mention it again, if you’ve already explained it elsewhere.
Remember, your personal statement is intended to sell yourself. So emphasise your positives rather than apologising for a negative.
Driven Retail Manager with over ten years’ experience in the fashion industry. Proven track record of success, including managing the top performing store in the region, and having the lowest staff turnover rate of all UK outlets. Currently out of work due to company closure, looking for the right opportunity to bring my expertise to a well-established fashion brand in an upper management position.
How to: Deal with redundancy
Redundancy CV template
Career break personal statement example
There are many good reasons someone may need to take a career break.
Some possible examples could include parental leave, caring for a family member, plans to travel or long-term illness. However, whatever the reason for your own break, it’s never something you should feel the need to justify to a prospective employer.
In fact, knowing how to explain a gap in your CV is mostly about confidence. So leave any extra explanation for your cover letter and focus your personal statement on your career before the break – and any skills learned during your time off which may be applicable to the role.
A highly motivated and experienced PA, currently looking to resume my professional career after dedicating the last five years to raising a family. Excellent admin skills, thorough knowledge of all Microsoft Office programs, as well as proficiency in minute-taking and extensive experience liaising with clients. After volunteering for one day a week with a local charity to refresh my skills, now fully committed to continuing my career on a full-time basis.
Career break CV template
Career change personal statement example
If you’re changing industry completely, think about any transferable skills and applicable to the sector you’re moving into.
Any numbers you can give to demonstrate your success could be crucial – even if you’re moving into an area where your expertise may seem slightly different. So always aim to back up your claims with real examples.
Focus on one or two achievements, demonstrate the impact they had, and you’ll instantly start adding value to your application.
As an experienced sales manager, my tenacious and proactive approach resulted in numerous important contract wins. My excellent networking skills have provided my team with vital client leads, and my ability to develop client relationships has resulted in an 18% increase in business renewals for my current organisation. After eight years in sales, currently seeking a new challenge which will utilise my meticulous attention to detail, and friendly, professional manner.
Changing careers: What you need to know
Career change CV template
If you’re still not sure of what to write, don’t panic.
Crafting a winning personal statement will take time, especially if you haven’t written one before. Use these examples as a loose structure to follow, and you’ll be able to add to them as your experience grows.
And remember: you should always aim to edit your personal statement for each role you apply for. That way, you can ensure you’re really selling yourself to their role, rather than simply sending the same generic statement for each application.
It should only take a few more minutes to complete. But if it’s enough to attract an employers interest, it will be time well spent in the long run.
How to write a personal statement
Personal statement dos and don’ts
Read more CV help & tips
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Daunted about writing an apprenticeship CV? Never fear, AllAboutCareers is here. We present our guide to writing a world-beating apprenticeship CV.
By the time you've finished reading this article, you'll be ready to start applying to the apprenticeships on our other website for aspiring apprentices, AllAboutSchoolLeavers.co.uk
An apprenticeship CV doesn’t have to be as long as a normal CV. The person reading it isn’t expecting you to have heaps of experience. A single page CV is fine. It shouldn’t be longer than two pages anyway!
You should create a basic CV and then tailor it to for every job application. That means picking out the skills, abilities, qualifications and experience that you think will most interest them and are most relevant to the apprenticeship to which you are applying.
It certainly isn’t a case of one size fits all. It’s all about showing them why you would make a great addition to their team.
A word of warning: no one likes to see flabby bits on a CV. It should be as trim and fit as an Olympic athlete. Resist the temptation to pad your CV out with useless information. Yes, your CV might look a bit on the skinny side, but short and sweet is better than long and irrelevant.
When it comes to picking a font, don’t go smaller than point size 11. Don’t go wacky, but maybe try something other than Arial and Times Roman.
Since so many CVs are sent via email or through online application systems, you might want to use a font designed to be read on screen such as Verdana or Helvetica. Never, ever use Comic Sans!
Layout is incredibly important. A clear, well laid out CV will impress. Use headings to split your CV into sections so the reader can easily find what they are looking for.
Bold, italics and bullet points will help make your CV more readable, but don’t go overboard. Clear and simple is the way forward.
What you should put in it…
At the very top of your CV should be your name. You might want to put your name in a larger font, in bold and centre it. Underneath should be your address, telephone number and email address.
Below that, you could write a brief personal profile detailing what your career aspirations are, why you want to work in this particular sector (i.e. if you are applying for an engineering apprenticeship, what attracts you to engineering), and any personal attributes or skills that you have that’ll make them want to employ you. Your personal profile should only be a few lines, so don’t bore them with a great long essay.
After your personal profile, comes your education. Put in a header ‘Education’ and then underneath it, list your education. You can list it in chronological order, with the last school you attended at the top.
You should only list your education from the age of 11, so don’t mention your primary school. For example, you can choose to list your education like so:
2010-present: All About Careers High School
GSCEs: Sociology (A), Food Technology (A), English Literature (D), Geography (D), Maths (B), Dual Science Award (C) (C).
2006-2010 Sacred Heart School for Girls
Play around with how you present it, but just make sure it’s readable and you’ve got all the right information. All your qualifications should be listed along with the grade you achieved. Remember to specify what the qualification is, e.g. GCSE, BTEC etc. and don’t include any subjects that you have failed.
You might want to add in any other academic achievements too; for example, if you got a scholarship or achieved a gold award in the ‘Maths Challenge’.
Below your education, you should put in any work experience you’ve got. This could include any jobs you’ve done and any work experience placements. It’s a good idea to put this in reverse chronological order. Put the dates you worked there (e.g. August 2009 to January 2010), the name of the company you worked for and your role (e.g. Part-time Sales Assistant at The Hairy Chipmunk Shop). Underneath, you should detail what your duties were and the skills that you developed whilst working there. For example:
“My duties involved: assisting customers, selling, cleaning the shop, answering the telephone and working behind the till. Dealing with particularly tricky customers really developed my customer service skills.
I also learnt to work efficiently under pressure during busy Saturdays and developed an exemplary telephone manner.”
The main thing, in this section, is to demonstrate the kind of skills the employer is looking for. For instance, the list of duties above would be great for someone wanting to get an apprenticeship in a call centre as it shows: customer services skills, telephone skills and working well under pressure.
Make sure you adapt your CV every time to reflect the kind of skills they are looking for in the apprenticeship to which you are applying. But don’t worry if you don’t have much work experience, they won’t be expecting you to have too much.
Interests & extracurricular activities…
Underneath work experience, you might want to detail your interests. Talk about interests that are relevant to the apprenticeship you want to apply to or things that will interest the reader (definitely not: “I like hanging out with my mates and playing on my PlayStation 3”).
You might also want to mention any other non-academic achievements, such as getting a brown belt in karate or getting a silver Duke of Edinburgh award.
Depending on what apprenticeship you are applying for, you might want to mention language skills and computing skills. Tell them if you’re fluent in any languages.
If you aren’t, but you can hold a conversation in a foreign language, then say that you’re an intermediate or conversational speaker. If you are applying for an apprenticeship that requires practical skills, you might want to briefly outline any technical skills you have got.
If you are applying for an office based apprenticeship, this is the place to discuss your general and specialist computing skills. Do you have a good working knowledge of Microsoft Office, Adobe Dreamweaver or Photoshop? What is your typing speed? Can you use both PCs and Macs? Whatever you can do, put it down!
You’ll only need to provide a few references. You can ask your teacher or tutor for a reference and you can get references from previous employers or people you worked for during work experience placements. Always contact your referees first to make sure they are happy to give a reference and to have their contact details shared.
Finally (turning on the loudspeaker)…
Please, please, please scour every inch of your CV for mistakes. We mean spelling mistakes, grammatical errors and wrong contact details etc.
Get someone else to check it through as well. There is nothing, and we mean nothing, worse than a CV riddled with spelling mistakes and grammatical errors.
When your apprenticeship CV is ready to go, you should check out all the live apprenticeships on our other website AllAboutSchoolLeavers.co.uk