Using a Personal Statement on a CV
One thing that is often apparent on CVs is that people seem to take the wrong approach to their personal statement on the CV. It seems to be the accepted norm that the personal statement is used to put down quite a bland description of what the individual perceives to be their skills. This means that the CV ends up with something along the lines of
“a bright tenacious individual with good time management skills and an understanding of effective management, a good sense of humour and the ability to perform exceptionally in all team environments”.
This is an approach that I think comes from careers advisers in various locations who seem to think that it is a good way to fill up part of a CV. If anyone has any evidence or justification for this type of statement on a CV then please feel free to send it through and I will post your response in full on our website.
Personally I have never been able to read one of these statements on a CV and completely ignore them, and have never heard of anyone else who would be prepared or able to read one either.
There are two specific problems with this sort of information on a CV.
Firstly it is all subjective and is a matter of opinion as to whether you are a good time keeper or have effect management skills. There is never any evidence given for this and no context in which to evaluate this type of statement.
The second problem with this is it is on its own at the top of the page and even if there was something within this information that was of interest the reader would still need to go and hunt out exactly where that skill was obtained in order to be able to determine how true the statement was.
A CV should contain objective factual information and not subjective descriptions, or indeed anything that you plan to do in the future.
I can easily describe myself on a CV as an excellent legal recruitment consultant and non-practising solicitor with outstanding proven results, but this means nothing. However if I write that I am a legal recruitment consultant with 13 years experience of recruiting over 900 solicitors for over 1,500 law firms, then this is a piece of factual information that sets out exactly that I have done. Whether or not I am a good recruiter, a reader can see that I am certainly an experienced one.
Your personal statement needs to set out your job title, how many years experience you have, where you are looking for work, how much money you want and when you are available to start. A quick example of this would be
“A Conveyancing Solicitor with over 9 years experience dealing with both freehold and leasehold residential properties looking for a suitable position in West London. Salary levels negotiable and available immediately”.
This covers all of those points and should be tailored according to the post you are going for.
For example if you are a solicitor and making an application for a conveyancing solicitor position (and obviously not misleading anybody), you can describe yourself as a conveyancing solicitor as your job title, changing this according this according to the post which you are going for.
This is a particularly important point as a number of recruiters and HR Departments will not really understand the difference between one sort of solicitor and another, and if you do not spell it out for them you may miss out on the opportunity.
Jonathan Fagan LLM Solicitor (non-practising) is Managing Director of Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment and regularly writes the Legal Recruitment blog, an award-winning selection of articles and features on legal recruitment and the legal profession. You can contact Jonathan at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit one of our websites.