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I hate personal statements

I have an aversion to the Personal Statement that so many people love at the beginning of their CV’s / resumes!

Allow me to explain why! I often read phrases like ‘I am an enthusiastic, keen, motivated employee and every finance strategy I touch turns to gold’.

Well, I am sorry but that is just fluff and wasted words and you are not King Midas!

You would not write on your resume; ‘I am an inflexible stick-in-the-mud who doesn’t like change. I am only working in this role but that’s until a better job comes along.’

No-one would write that, but, in some ways, this is what I feel often comes across in a ‘Personal Statement’.

Some people may like them but my personal viewpoint is that they are wasted words that won’t get read and can often alienate a reader not something you want to do when you are keen to make a good first impression.

I actually debated this point at length with a candidate who had previously been an actual client of mine and he said

“Mike I actually like them so why are you so against them?”

As I explained, I have found that in about 50% of cases clients like them but the other half dislike them and as I then said


You want to make a strong first impression – why flip a coin before someone has even met you and give them a chance to dislike what you have written?


OK so what do I recommend that may differ from the Personal Statement?


This would be and can be far more effective!

In this you include information that is directly relevant to the role you are specifically applying for. What I would be looking for is a summary of the parts of your resume that relate to the position you are applying for.

For example, it might say: ‘In my past two or three positions, I have elicited this change, I have achieved this much and this is where I want to develop. It explains why you are a match for this position.’

Look at it from the client’s perspective; what are the major areas, in this role and in this business, where you can deliver improvement?

What are the clients’ major pain points?

What do I mean by that?

Perhaps their finance management systems are out of date or inefficient, and this is an area in which you can deliver the improvements the client needs.

If you do your research around the client and their business, in collaboration with your recruiter, you can put yourself in a unique position to know where you fit in as a valuable asset.

I would suggest that in your summary section you highlight what you have achieved that addresses their ‘pain points’.

Draw attention, to the fact that, for example, in your last two positions you

  • managed three members of staff
  • reduced the reporting cycle from 120 days down to 60 days
  • implemented straight through finance processing for the group

You don’t need to go into massive amounts of detail. If you do it right, the summary section says:

This is why I am the solution to your problem

‘Why am I the best person for this job? Because I can save you cash – this is how I did it in another role the detail is given in your resume.’

‘If you have a morale problem, this is how I motivated my team in the past. This is what why management style is like.’

It is a practical, summarized answer to their headache that works.

If you need more advice about how you can be the cure for a clients headache then just call or drop me a line!