One piece of advice that I give to those about to embark on an application or interview journey is to: write a personal statement. Even if it is not required or requested.
It can take several hours. And although it can be used to form a letter of application, this is not the main reason that you should write it.
To understand the main reason behind developing a personal statement for yourself, you first need to understand the objectives that you will accomplish while writing it.
Identify Your Professional Interests
Your work should revolve around subjects that you are deeply interested in. Writing a personal statement will require that you evaluate yourself and identify your deep interests. Interests evolve so, it is important to reassess prior to making a life change.
Clarify Your Mission
A personal statement contains your purpose and goals. What is it that you want to accomplish overall? What goals do you want to achieve in the near and far future?
Every stage and change of your career should be contributing to your overall purpose. Do not apply to anything (job, internship, program, etc.) without knowing how it contributes to your purpose and how it helps you achieve your goals.
Keep in mind, your goals (and maybe even your purpose) will change over time. So, you need to rewrite each time you are about to move to the next stage or start a new chapter.
Analyze Your Experience
As mentioned in a previous post, one of the best ways to reveal passion in a field is to discuss experiences you’ve gained in that field. To discuss this in writing, you must do some thinking.
Which experiences influenced you most? Which accomplishments are you most proud of? Which experiences reveal your dedication and passion?
“People do not care about what you know until they know you care.”
Your actions and experiences in a field are the evidence that you care. Prove it to yourself before you set out to prove it to interviewers.
Assess Your Strengths & Limitations
Your personal statement may also include a statement about your strengths and your limitations. To write this, you must assess yourself to not only identify genuine strengths…but also provide evidence.
In other words, your experiences mentioned above should require specific characteristics, abilities, and/or skills. Of all your strengths, these are the ones that you can easily demonstrate in application papers.
Your limitations change over time…since, of course, you are constantly striving to improve old limitations. You are also gaining exposure to new experiences and situations that may highlight new areas in need of improvement.
Writing a personal statement allows you to identify your current limitations and develop phrasing that reveals your intention to improve.
Develop Self-Concept Language
Perhaps the most important benefit of writing a personal statement is that it prepares you to represent yourself in your application materials and during your interview.
You may already know all the information in your personal statement without having to write it…but, the process of composing requires that you find the language and phrasing that best expresses your ideas.
So, not only does this process force you to self-conceptualize, but it requires that you articulate this information in a professional and concise manner.
The act of writing a personal statement before you apply or interview to any position will allow you to:
- represent yourself with confidence
- reveal your passion for the position, profession, and field
- explain the alignment of values between you and the organization
- describe the ways in which the position/organization can help you achieve your goals
- clarify the way in which you will contribute to the organization
The act of writing a personal statement is so valuable that I often say:
“If you cannot write a personal statement, then you are not ready to apply.”