Personal statement

You may be asked to make a personal statement in support of your application, giving your reasons for applying. The statement will need to be related to the job specification or course description and should include your knowledge, skills and experience, including course work and projects that you have undertaken. Use a highlighter pen to pick out the skills, experiences etc. that the employer has said that they are looking for.

You could start with a short statement which summarises how you meet the requirements of the organisation/course. Follow this by providing concrete examples of what you said in the summary. Finally, summarise by reflecting on the outcomes of the examples for you and the other people in the situation(s).

It makes it easier for the reader if you address all the points in the course description or job specification in the order that they appear. Attention to details such as this can make the difference between being selected for interview or not – application readers are always short of time!

You will need to demonstrate why you are committed to the job or course, and use the appropriate positive language. It is a good idea to draw attention to why you are interested in your chosen subject or area of work and give examples. Don’t forget, though, to back every statement you make with evidence or a reason. For example, in applying for a course in Mechanical Engineering you may be able to state that you have always been fascinated by understanding how things function mechanically, and at the age of fifteen you re-built a car to make it road-worthy.

Personal statements for higher education courses

Personal statements assume even more importance in higher education applications. It is possible to be accepted on a course on the strength of your personal statement and without an interview. There is room for up to 47 lines of text on the UCAS application form. Your statement should include:

  • What interests you about your chosen subject
  • Relevant experience such as, work experience or placements, voluntary work or summer schools you have undertaken
  • Involvement in summer schools, master classes or programmes for the gifted and talented
  • Any activities you have been involved in under the Government’s Aimhigher programme including gaining the Award Scheme Development and Accreditation Network (ASDAN) Aimhigher Certificate of Personal Effectiveness (CoPE)
  • Other awards such as the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme, Young Enterprise or Millenium Volunteers Scheme
  • Any subjects you are studying that are not formally assessed
  • Any sponsorships or placements that you have applied for such as those offered by one of the armed forces or businesses
  • Your future career plans
  • If you are planning a gap year, what your objectives are and the reasons you are planning to undertake it.