Perfecting your Personal Statement
By Corinne Mills
Recruiters tend to scan and dismiss CVs quite quickly so you need to convince them within the first half page of your CV that you have the relevant skills and experience. Otherwise they’re unlikely to read on and your CV could very well end up in the reject pile. One of the best ways to make that initial positive impact is to write a compelling personal statement/profile. This is a short, sharp and succinct 3-5 sentence paragraph positioned just below your contact details on the first page of your CV which acts like a mini-advertisement to grab their attention and highlight your relevant capabilities.
So, what should you put in your personal statement?
It’s important to label yourself with a title that is specific to the job you are applying for. For instance, instead of calling yourself a "Finance Professional” or “Dynamic individual…”, try using your actual job title or the job title; ‘Finance Director’, or ‘Financial Controller’ for instance, to reflect exactly what you are looking for. Of course you can only call yourself this if you have practical experience in the relevant area but it enables them to see right away that you have the background that is needed.
Mention how many years of experience you have working in this field and your relevant qualifications, as this will tell them at a glance whether you have sufficient professional credibility as a serious candidate for their role. If the role or organisation asks for particular expertise or knowledge eg understanding of mergers and acquisitions, specific software, background in the media industry, then make sure that this experience is mentioned in your personal profile eg “Extensive experience of managing the financial integration of newly acquired companies”. If you’re applying for a management role ensure that you state the size of teams that you have managed and the scope of your responsibilities eg “recruiting, motivating and performance managing staff”. Executive level CVs also need to talk about your input into strategy development and leadership.
Demonstrate the value you can bring to the organisation you’re applying to by including something in your personal profile which illustrates that your career to date has been successful. This might be your contribution to maximising revenue streams, identifying commercial opportunities, reducing losses or improving the efficiency of your team.
As a Finance professional you do need to demonstrate that you have the technical capabilities to do the job so your profile should include the key technical skills required eg management accounts, payroll. That said, soft skills are just as crucial. Employers do want to get a sense of what you are like as a person but always back up any claims about your personal qualities by supplying evidence by way of examples to prove it. These must all be in a professional context rather than a personal context. For eg: “tenacious and thorough as demonstrated by successfully chasing up customer debts worth over £50,000”.
In summary, your personal statement should address all the areas that the recruiter will be considering in relation to their selection criteria for the job. Be prepared to craft a few different versions of your personal profile before you find the one that most adequately reflects you and the type of job you are pursuing. It’s worth the effort because if you get this right, then you increase the likelihood of your application being read thoroughly and subsequently shortlisted rather than discarded at first glance.
Are you looking for your first job or need help improving your career prospects? Personal Career Management provides specialist coaching and advice to candidates looking to stand out in a competitive job market. Book your free introductory meeting.