This article contains exclusive information on the 4 simple steps on How to Write A Personal Statement in the year 2021. It also includes common personal statement errors.
Personal statements have many uses; however, the main aim is to convey who you are, and why you are the best person for what it is you are applying for, be it a job or a course in a university and so on. The personal statement is your chance to show off your strengths, shout about your achievements and share your career aspirations.
A personal statement should be a small, bite-sized representation of who you are as a professional, and what you have to offer in terms of experience and ambition. A good personal statement can mean the difference between getting an offer and being rejected.
A personal statement is a self-marketing statement and a vital part of not only the UCAS application form but also the overall university admissions process. It is essentially a personally written whole page document of no more than 4000 characters (this includes spaces) or 47 lines of text that gives students a chance to say something about themselves and to make a positive impression on the admissions tutors.
A personal statement should show that you are a suitable person for that position of interest. It should include a brief overview of who you are, your strengths and any work experience and/or education you’ve got. Be sure to include skills you’ve gained, such as time management, customer service, teamwork, computer skills etc.
Many students struggle to put together an effective personal statement, primarily because they find it difficult to write about themselves. They may also fall for other common essay writing mistakes such as straying from the core subject and message they should be trying to get across. The person reading your application form will want to know in what ways you ‘connect’ with the course, and they will be looking for students who can articulate their aims and have the potential to succeed. For these reasons, your statement should be informative, interesting and written to the highest standards possible.
How do you introduce yourself in a personal statement?
- Write down something about you that is impressive or cool.
- Write down your expertise, main career goal or something you aspire to be.
- Write down 3-5 power words or short phrases that describe you.
- Let your personality shine.
When writing a personal statement, some basic steps are required in order to achieve a well detailed personal statement. These steps include :
1. Planning your personal statement
While planning your personal statement, get to know the information(s) required of you.
Find the perfect opening sentence; Starting with something funny, interesting, unusual or surprising will give a good first impression. But do not try to squeeze something funny out of your brain; that is useless. The perfect opening sentence will just hit you in a random moment when you have already worked hours and hours on your personal statement. So, just wait and do not overthink it.
Take a break; do not rush it. A superb personal statement will not be ready in a couple of hours. Or even a couple of days.
Sometimes it’s worth taking a break for a few days, then coming back to it afresh. Do research on the job or whatsoever it is you are applying for with your personal statement in order to keep you abreast, so as to be able to explain why you are the suitable person.
Make it your own idea; It is advisable you don’t read any other personal statements before writing the first few drafts of yours. It will simply give you a false idea. You are most definitely unique, and it is worthless to follow some set rules or patterns, or someone else’s ideas. After all, this is about you, not somebody else.
While writing your personal statement, please be honest. In fact, be as transparent as an open book. Do not write that you are fluent in Spanish if you can only say “I love you” in Spanish. Do not write that you are good at problem-solving if your own example is a way of carrying five bottles in one hand. If you are good, you are good the way you are. There is no need to create a false image, and indeed the truth will always come out sooner or later.
A personal statement isn’t a one-size-fits-all document. In other words, a new one should be written for each application you send off. Although it might take some time to alter it according to each job role, your effort will make all the difference when it comes to impressing an employer. After all, each job requires a slightly different set of skills and experience – meaning the level of focus you put on your abilities will change from application to application.
Remember: generic personal statements won’t get you anywhere – and sending off five well-written and tailored CVs has more value than sending out fifty generic ones.
If you are applying for a job, important questions such as these, are considered in order to help position you and give detailed information to your employer:
- How do your skills fit into the job?
- Why do you think you are a suitable person for the job?
- What are your career goals?
- How can you make an impact on the company?
If you are applying to study a course or subject, then you will need to take into consideration these few questions :
- Your career aspirations?
- How did you become interested in studying the subject?
- What, if any, relevant work experience you have undertaken that is related to the course or subject?
- What aspects of your previous education you have found the most interesting?
- What attracted you to the particular university?
- Other relevant academic interests and passions which display positive character and personality
2. Structuring your personal statement
Your personal statement should be between 300 to 600 words. Use headings to break up contents for simplicity and well-detailed information.
Use a sentence structure where you: make a claim and back this claim up with evidence. This can be achieved by talking about your work experience and academic interests. Example: ‘My passion for Psychology stems from my interest in how dementia affects the personality of patients suffering from the condition. That’s why I spent my gap year working with the Alzheimer’s Society, supporting patients and families by visiting them at home and holding surgeries to give sufferers and carers someone to talk to’.
3. Use the right word/language
Use fresh and exciting language to make your application stand out, and use engaging opening paragraphs use accurate grammar, punctuation and spelling.
Use clear language in short sentences and avoid extravagant claims to avoid using generic terms and talk specifically. Be concise; the admissions tutor will have little time to read your personal statement so keep their attention by sticking to the point.
It is quite common to come up with essay/dissertation ideas when writing a personal statement. Jotting these down and keeping them safe could save you a lot of work later on.
A well-researched quote in the right context could give a clear indication that you know what you’re talking about. However, get this wrong, and the admission tutor may be easily frustrated.
Not everyone has the same sense of humour, so if you’re going to try a joke or two, make sure you’re not the only one that finds it amusing. Get your friends, family or teachers to check if it is suitable.
Draft, redraft and draft some more. This is not uncommon. A good personal statement requires a great amount of time and effort.
4. Get someone else to give you some final help and guidance.
What you have in front of you is something you should be very proud of, especially since it’s taken a great amount of time to construct. Find a friend who knows you well to see if your personal statement is a true representation of yourself.
Get a family member who probably knows you even better, to suggest anything you may have missed out that is worth a mention within your personal statement.
Get a teacher or tutor (one who has some experience in dealing with personal statements is always better) to check whether you have a good enough personal statement that will hopefully guarantee that offer from each of your university choices.
Common personal statement error
- The personal statement is too short/long.
- The personal statement does not include important information or has negative information.
- The personal statement has a confusing structure.
- The personal statement does not have a good backup claim.
- Re-listing information already provided.
- Boring opening paragraph.
- Poor spelling and grammar.
- Too career-focused.
- Lack of academic focus.
- Lack of passion for the subject.
- Too generic.
- Making it “one size fits all”.
- Ignoring the rules.
- Failing to convey
While writing or drafting your personal statement, be authentic and reasonable. Also, do not plagiarize other people’s work, because if detected, that could be the end of your proposal statement submitted to the University you applied in or the company/industry you intend working with.
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Joeme is a biochemist by training and a SEO content writer by passion. He has been writing content for the past 4 years. He has expertise in career-related information, education and university admissions.
He is also a certified web publisher.