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How to Write a Personal Statement for a Job Application Form

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Many job applications include a section in which employers ask you to provide a brief personal statement describing any relevant skills, experience or other qualifications you may have. They might also ask you to elaborate on your interests, career goals or other factors. To impress potential employers, keep your statement concise and focus on characteristics relevant to the position for which you’re applying.

Take Inventory

Read the instructions carefully before writing. Some employers simply ask if you have anything to add, while others include specific directions. For example, instead of a mini-biography, they might want an explanation of your greatest professional achievement or your long-term career goals. Review the job description and then list your skills, experience and achievements. Note areas where you match the requested qualifications and then build your personal statement around those.

Keep It Relevant

Only discuss details that illustrate how you’re qualified for the job and why the company should hire you. As with a cover letter and resume, tailor your statement for the position and the employer. You might be proud of your summer backpacking through Europe, but unless you can demonstrate how this qualifies you to oversee marketing for a multinational pharmaceutical manufacturer, omit it. Instead, describe your lifelong interest in the field, how you’ve prepared yourself for this role and what you’ve learned and achieved that will contribute to your success in the position you’re seeking.

Engage the Reader

Like a cover letter, your personal statement should capture the reader’s attention and make him want to read more. Don’t simply list your accomplishments as you would on a resume. Instead, tell a story. Include an anecdote about a time when you encountered a difficult challenge at a previous job, how you found a solution, and what you learned from the incident. Or, describe what motivated you to pursue this career and what you enjoy most about it. Focus on what makes you unique. For example, perhaps you represented your last company at a prestigious international conference.

Address Potential Negatives

If there’s anything that might concern prospective employers, discuss it in your personal statement. Anticipate what questions they might have about discrepancies on your resume, gaps in your work history, a seeming lack of direct experience or other missing qualifications. By confronting the issue on your application, you ensure the employer won’t make incorrect assumptions or dismiss your application simply because you don’t appear to fit the profile of the perfect candidate.