A personal statement is not a cover letter. It’s an important summary section of your CV. Figuring out how to write a personal statement is a key part of any engineering job application.
It’s not always easy. You need to concisely sum up the rest of your CV – your skills, your personality, even the job you’re looking for – in just a few short paragraphs.
Here’s everything to know about how to structure a personal statement for a job in engineering:
What is a personal statement?
Sometimes called a personal profile, a personal statement is part of your CV that summarises the rest.
A good personal statement will, essentially, sell you. It’s not a supporting statement. It’s not a cover letter. It needs to convince anyone who might hire you that you’re a good fit for the engineering job they have available.
Not all employers ask for one. But if they do, writing a good personal statement gives you an extra opportunity to stand out from the crowd.
For some employers and engineering recruitment agencies, the personal statement is where they’ll start to assess each candidate. This means yours might be make or break time.
Finally, like your CV as a whole, your personal statement should always be carefully tailored to each individual job if you want it to be effective.
How to start a personal statement
One of the worst things you can do in a personal statement is use generic language or the same trite phrases as everyone else. Yet, the start of a personal statement does have a certain expected format to it. The opening sentence should quickly summarise your:
- Job title
- Years of experience
- Key qualifications, achievements, or expertise
An example of something you might write could be:
Confident project engineer (BSc in Engineering, advanced AutoCAD and MS Office skills) with 6 years experience delivering complex projects for industry-leading companies in the UK and Europe.
How to write a personal statement
Now that the difficult opening is out of the way, it’s time to consider the overriding goal when writing your personal statement.
This is to highlight the place where your skills, experience, and qualities meet the requirements your prospective employer has stated in their job description. The easiest way to do this is to make lists or “mind maps” of both and then compare them.
Because it’s easy to get into the mindset that because it’s your personal statement, it should be all about you. But really, it’s all about what your potential employer wants and how you are going to be able to deliver it.
That’s why it’s so important to carefully tailor each personal statement to each job you’re applying for. Don’t make your statement so generic you can use it to apply for jobs that aren’t very, very similar to each other.
How long should a personal statement be?
Short. A good personal statement will probably only be two or three sentences long. Perhaps a few lines. 200 words at the outside.
In that time, you’ve got to establish your own unique tone of voice and be concise in showing you have what your employer is looking for.
Remember that companies with engineering jobs available may have to go through hundreds or even thousands of CVs. Your personal statement could be your one chance to set yourself apart from all the others.
How to finish a personal statement
If the opening of your personal statement tells the story of where you are and where you’ve been, the best way to finish imagines where you see yourself going.
If you are towards the beginning of your career, you might want to state your career goals. Otherwise, you might want to talk about the kind of company that you want to join. Doing a bit of research on the company you’re applying for and hinting at their descriptions of their corporate culture (where this overlaps with your idea of your dream employer) probably wouldn’t hurt here.
With that, you’ll have covered the past, present, and future in just a couple of lines. You’ll have tailored it to the job and employer you’re applying for. And you’ll have summarised everything that makes you an ideal fit using your own unique tone.
That’s just what you need to write a personal statement that puts your best foot forward.
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