How To Write a Personal Statement That Gets Noticed (With Examples)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 13 December 2022

Published 26 May 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Writing a personal statement is often part of the process of applying for employment or university placement. Writing a powerful personal statement can highlight your goals and skills to a potential employer or university. A well-written personal statement can also help your application stand out and give you a competitive advantage that may help you secure a job or university placement. In this article, we discuss how to write a strong personal statement for a job or university application.

What is a personal statement?

A personal statement is an account of your goals, interests and achievements included in job applications and some university applications. You might include a personal statement with a university application if you are applying as a mature-age student or your Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR) was lower than required for the degree you're interested in. Personal statements for job and university applications have similar content, although personal statements for university applications are usually longer and more comprehensive.

A personal statement on a job application is usually a single paragraph. A personal statement on a university application is usually three or four paragraphs. Hiring companies and universities may have their own preferences, so read their requirements carefully before writing and submitting your personal statement.

Related: How To Sell Yourself in 25 Words or Less (With Tips)

How to write a personal statement

Breaking the process down into small, manageable steps can help you write an effective personal statement. While we list writing the introduction, body and conclusion as three chronological steps, you can write these parts in any order. Taking the following steps helps you write persuasively and include all essential components in your personal statement:

1. Write an introduction that introduces yourself and your goals

Write an introduction that introduces who you are and why you applying for the job or university program. Note why your interests align with the role or degree and any experience you have with this type of job or the course topics. Your introduction should be engaging to encourage your recipient to read on. Include the following in each type of personal statement introduction:

  • Job application. Write a single sentence noting your most relevant interests, skills and personality traits that make you well suited for the role.

  • University application. Write a full paragraph noting the aspects of the course and/or university aligned with your interests.

Related: How To Introduce Yourself Professionally

2. Write a body that expands on your relevant interests, skills and experiences

Write a body that shares more relevant information about yourself or your past that relate to the job or university program. Some of the topics your body text could cover, if relevant, include:

  • Your achievements. Your degrees, certifications and awards show you are someone who works hard.

  • Your experience. The number of years you've worked in an industry or studied a subject can show your preparedness for the position you're applying for. You may also mention any professional duties or responsibilities that overlap with a job you want.

  • Your skills and talents. Note any skills or talents that directly apply to the vacant position or educational program. Mention skills or qualities you have that are listed in the job posting or university website.

  • Your potential contribution. Note what you could bring to the business or university and why you think you would be an asset to them. Your passion for the topic area, experience or eagerness to learn are all potential contributions you might consider.

  • Your goals. List your professional or academic goals and how you think you could achieve them if your application is successful. Focusing on a single goal can be more effective than writing about several goals.

Write two or three sentences for the body of a job application. The body of a university application should be longer. High school graduates may need a single paragraph for their body. Degree holders applying for postgraduate degrees should write two paragraphs.

Related: 10 Best Skills To Include on a Resume

3. Write a powerful conclusion

Conclude your personal statement with a strong closing. Your conclusion may restate your reason for applying and what you hope to achieve if your application is successful. Your conclusion could also include a statement that inspires your reader to take action. For example, your conclusion may encourage the reader to read your resume or review your academic record. Your conclusion should leave a powerful and positive impression on your reader.

The personal statement in a job application should be a single sentence, so select only one of the approaches above. As personal statements for university applications are a full paragraph, you could restate your motivation and goals and include a call to action.

Related: How to Write a Conclusion (With Tips and Examples)

4. Proofread and edit your personal statement

Take time to proofread and edit your work. The following steps can make your personal statement more professional, engaging and effective:

  • Correct spelling and grammatical errors.

  • Delete irrelevant details.

  • Make vague statements more specific.

  • Revise passive phrasing to active voice.

  • Make confusing or clumsy wording clearer.

  • Replace jargon and technical terms with more accessible, simple language.

Proofreading is often most effective a day or two after you finish writing your personal statement. Leaving this time creates distance between you and your writing which helps you see areas for revision more clearly. You may also like to ask a trusted friend or colleague to proofread your personal statement. Their objective feedback may help you identify more areas for revision.

Related: How to Write Your Resume Personal Statement

Tips for writing a strong personal statement

Keep the following tips in mind when writing your personal statement to make sure it's informative, engaging and memorable:

  • Write in a tone that is professional, yet personal. Your writing should show respect for your recipient yet feel personal. Imagine you are speaking directly to your reader and use the words you would naturally use during this kind of conversation.

  • Be concise. Writing to the point, including only relevant and persuasive details, helps you write effectively.

  • Keep it simple. Writing with short sentences and simple language is direct and accessible. This kind of writing is usually more effective than complicated sentences and flowery language.

  • Maintain a positive tone. Frame your personal statement in a positive way, emphasising your enthusiasm for the opportunity available.

  • Be original. There is only one you, with your unique background and personality, so make sure your personal statement reflects this. Consider what makes you different and, if relevant, add these details to your personal statement.

Strong personal statement examples

Viewing other people's personal statements can inspire you when you're writing your own. Here is an example of each type of personal statement you may need to write.

Personal statement for employment

The following is an example of a personal statement that could appear on a job application.

'I recently graduated from the University of Melbourne with a Bachelor of Education (Early Childhood), and I would love to apply my new knowledge and my love of children to your preschool teacher role. I spent my teenage years babysitting children aged two to nine in my local area. Helping these children master new skills through interactive games strengthened my interest in teaching young people. I am a quick learner with a genuine passion for helping children realise their full potential, so I feel I would be an asset to your preschool.'

Personal statement for a university application

This is an example of a personal statement for a university application. Note that it is longer and more detailed than the personal statement for a job application.

'I am applying for a position in your Bachelor of Commerce degree program because I'm passionate about starting my own business. After leaving high school at the end of year 10, I completed a Certificate III in Hair Dressing at Petersham TAFE. Shortly after gaining my certificate, I began working as a hairdresser at Great Cuts in Glebe, where I have worked for the last 10 years. I enjoy styling and interacting with customers, but over time I have also become interested in running a salon.

Preparing for this career development, I returned to TAFE and earned my Certificate IV in Tertiary Preparation. Returning to study was daunting, but through the course, I began to gain confidence in my aptitude. As my confidence grew, I also discovered how much I love learning. These studies have prepared me to take the next steps in my education and career.

I feel studying a Bachelor of Commerce at the University of Sydney would help me learn valuable skills for making my own salon successful. Your courses in accounting, human resource management and management would help me manage my finances and salon staff and promote my business to the wider community. I also appreciate that your university offers part-time study options, so I could balance study with my ongoing salon work. As someone who has come through the TAFE system, I also appreciate your university's emphasis on gaining real-world, practical experience during study.

When I left high school at the end of year 10, attending university was something I didn't imagine. However, time has helped me realise my potential and discover a passion for learning and maturity that wasn't present all those years ago. I now feel I'm ready to become an asset to your school and a successful business owner. Please read through my application and I'm sure you'll agree I would make a great mature-age student.'

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