We’ve just had a number of personal statements to write. Not the sort used for University (Generally called a UCAS statement or University entrance statement) but the personal statement used to support an application for a job.
One that springs to mind was for a role in the charity sector. Many Charities and the vast majority of roles in the Public Sector (Government, Military, NHS, Council, etc.) require completion of an online application form using some sort of online portal. There is usually a section in the application for a personal statement or supporting statement.
Writing a Personal Statement
This section in the form is probably your best opportunity to show off your best qualities. Much of the rest of the application is often standardised so my first piece of advice is to make sure that you sell yourself.
As this section is generally blank for you to fill in, it’s a real opportunity so don’t waste it!
Why the Public Sector use online portals/ online applications
To attempt to level the application playing field then these organisations use a standardised application process. The real reason is that The Equality Act 2010 prohibits discrimination in employment or in the provision of training and education on the grounds of any of the following protected characteristics: age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex, and sexual.
Employers in this sector therefore level the playing field as much as they can and so using the personal statement area to your benefit really helps you stand out for the right reasons.
What should go into a Personal Statement?
As mentioned before, this is the opportunity to sell yourself. Read the job description and read the person specification in detail. When you have done so, start to identify examples of where you have added value , contributed, shined or otherwise achieved in previous roles or in other areas of your life and relate that to the qualities and experience that they are looking for.
Writing a Personal Statement or is it a Cover Letter?
In many ways, the personal statement is similar to a Cover Letter. One reason to put time into your statement is that it is often the deciding factor when choosing between two candidates with similar qualifications or work experience.
Using the STAR Method in your Statement
The STAR method (which stands for “Situation, Task, Action, Results”) is a behavioural interviewing technique that can be used to gain those insights into candidate answers. Interview questions using the STAR method urge candidates to tell a linear story, focusing on a specific situation and providing details regarding tasks and results.
When using examples to demonstrate evidence to support your application, using the STAR techniques can help you in writing those examples up into the statement. Having a framework really does help to focus the mind and make your writing more impactful.
Spending time writing a personal statement really can pay off. Remember that the application often limits your word or character count so make every word count. Be ruthless in editing the statement and make sure that you highlight examples where you have achieved for previous employers and highlight your very best qualities.