Personal statements
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Personal statements

Introduction

One of the most important sections of an application form is the Personal or Supporting Statement, where you describe how your skills, abilities, knowledge and experience make you a suitable candidate. This is your opportunity to tell the employer or course provider why you are the best person for the job or course.

How we can help

Step 1:
The process of writing a personal statement takes time and patience, so use the help and resources on this page to complete as much as possible.

Step 2:
You can double-check your statement before sending it off for that golden opportunity by booking a one-to-one appointment with one of our Careers Advisers.

Unfortunately we cannot do application form checks at the drop-ins in Student Commons.

Tips for job applications

Your statement will be assessed against the essential and desirable criteria listed in the person specification so use those criteria as headings and provide evidence against each one to show how you meet them.

  1. Answer the question: Read it carefully, keep it in front of you as you write, and refer to it often.
  2. Avoid unnecessary duplication: Do not repeat information in your personal statement that is already included in other parts of the form, for example specific grades or course titles.
  3. Make it distinctive: Stand out from the others by including detailed (relevant) examples of your skills that are specific to your own experience.
  4. Keep it brief: Usually, personal statements are limited to 250–500 words or one typed page, so make sure that each paragraph is tightly focused on a single idea to keep the statement from becoming too long.
  5. Structure your statement: Although the requirements for personal statements can differ, they generally follow this format:

- Introduction: it is here that you grab or lose the reader's attention, and this paragraph becomes the framework for the rest of the statement. 

- Detailed supporting paragraphs: These should address the specific requirements of the application, for example your qualifications, or your compatibility with the vacancy. Each paragraph should be focused and should have a topic sentence that informs the reader of the emphasis. You must provide specific examples of situations; what you did and why and what the outcome was as a result of your actions. 

- Conclusion: Tie together the points you have made in your statement, and reiterate your interest in this specific vacancy.

Tips for postgraduate study

Personal statements are often asked for in applications for postgraduate study, such as MBAs or postgraduate teacher training. Here are some general guidelines:

  1. Don't use the same statement for all applications: Each statement will need a slightly different emphasis, depending on the institution you are applying to.
  2. Research the university and course/research area: find out what sets your choice apart from other universities, and get this across in your statement.
  3. Use good English: If your statement is fresh, enthusiastic and different, you'll stand out from the crowd. Also remember they will be looking at your statement as an example of your writing style. 
  4. Read your statement very carefully; do your draft on a computer, spell and grammar check it, give it to a friend to read, be clear, concise, and avoid waffle. Stay within prescribed word limits and pay attention to presentation - type the statement unless specifically instructed not to.
  5. Give your statement structure: have an introduction, a main body and a conclusion. The opening paragraph is important as it is here that you grab or lose the reader's attention, and this paragraph becomes the framework for the rest of the statement. The middle section might detail your interest, experience and knowledge in your particular field. Be as specific as you can and use the language that professionals use in conveying the information.
  6. Get your final draft checked by as many people as you can; academics, a Careers Adviser, friends and family can all provide different perspectives.