10 Sep 2012

Personal Statements...

Read an article yesterday in one of the Sunday papers that got me thinking about Personal Statements on CVs.  The piece was written with a view to statements written by A level students on their University application forms but many parallels can be drawn to CVs for candidates at any stage of their career.

These days, 99% of CVs that I come across have a 'Profile' or 'Personal Statement'.  At best, this is a couple of lines but I've seen some extend to half a page. A quick Google search has highlighted that there are companies offering help and advice to candidates to help them put together their CVs and significant thought is put into making sure their personal statement is as strong as it can be - at a cost of £300-£500. What Cowboys!

Here's the thing.  I don't think any client actually reads the statement.  In fact, some clients collect them in the same way that academics collect exam howlers.  As the article suggested - as evidence of narcissic personality disorder or naive personal illusions.  Often, the statement is not actually a statement, just words - typically which will include Passionate (why is this relevant?), Motivated, Ambitious, Dynamic, Proven track record, Communication Skills....blah blah blah!

As I've said previously.  When a client reads a CV, they perhaps will give it less than a minute to scan.....they'll want to look at where you work, for how long, what the role is and where you worked previously.  Most clients have a very clear idea of who they are looking for and given that they give the CV so little time, it's important to keep it well structured so to give them the information they are looking for. They'll also check your sex and age - don't bother leaving your date of birth out, they'll just count backwards from your first role.  That's sufficient for them to pop your CV in the Yes or No pile.  Perhaps if it's a tricky role they might give it a bit more of a thorough read but don't count on it.  This is why I generally recommend  getting all the essentials on the first page of the CV and keeping it to succinct bullet points.  Make it as easy as possible for the client to see what they're looking for.

The Personal Statement can be seen as evidence of 'impression management skills' but that's the purpose of an interview where you can demonstrate your social skills, maturity, vocabulary and resilience.

The Personal Statement is probably here to stay so rather than take it off the CV, just give it a read and see if it makes sense or if yours is just random words that you think clients want to see.  In honesty they won't read it so don't spend the next two weeks trying to craft the perfect statement but if you do have one, please make sure that it makes sense and is relevant to you!