An applicant tracking software (ATS) is used by more and more employers during recruitment. What is it? It is a system that filters out the CVs and determines which go ahead to be seen by the employers. Unfair? Yes. However, you can do something about this. You need to be smart and meet the needs of this system. What is it looking for? It is looking for keywords. Where can those keywords be found? In the job advert. Once it gets to the employers, they look at a CV for 6-8 seconds only before they decide to read on or not. Therefore, whatever they place their eyes on first and what also needs to beat the ATS must have some sort of significance. Well, that is what the personal statement is for.

What is a personal statement?

A personal statement on a CV is the short paragraph right at the top which tells the employer why they should recruit you. It is your elevator pitch in written form. What is an elevator pitch? This is basically you selling yourself in a few seconds to a minute. This is while you are in an elevator for a very short period of time with your future employer. You do not have the time to waffle or waste time, you need to utilise every single second. Likewise, on your CV you must make use of every single word. Remember you have about 8 seconds to convince the employer to read on.

Your CV should be catered to each and every job you apply for to truly heighten your chances of success. Now, one may say my education and experience details do not really change. While this may be a fair claim, there are some tweaks you can make to cater it to the job you are applying for. However, the bit that must be modified for each application is the personal statement.

personal statement

So, the personal statement is your 3 sentence elevator pitch. It is used to grab the attention of the reader in a few seconds and it is something that should be tailored for each application. And it is one of the 8 tips to perfect your CV.

What should be in your personal statement? You are basically answering three questions: 1- who you are, 2- what you will bring to the table and 3- what your career goals are.

Who are you?

In this section mention your professional title and your greatest achievements. Of course, remember to keep it relevant. Avoid buzzwords that are used by every other applicant and go for keywords that are used in the job specification.

What will you bring to the table?

This section is for you to match your skills and experience against the specific job specification of the role you are applying for. They want a team player? This is where you highlight this asset of yours by providing an example. Quantifying your claims with a statistic brings the claim to life and just strengthens it.

What are your career goals?

This part shows you are ambitious and you are someone who is proactive in order to achieve their dreams. Also, it is crucial you link this role to your career goals in terms of how and where it fits into your plans.

Related: The 8 steps to perfect your CV


Here are a couple of examples presented by Reed (Cheary n.d.). One is of a recent graduate with little work experience and the second is of a more experienced individual looking for work.

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.

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.

Reference List:

Cheary, M. (n.d.). Personal statement examples. [Online]. Reed. Available from: https://www.reed.co.uk/career-advice/personal-statement-examples/ [Accessed 19 November 2019].