CVs: the value of a ‘personal statement’

When it comes to writing a CV even professional recruiters are divided as to the value of a personal statement at the head of this most important of documents. There are those who believe that it is a potentially valuable addition to an applicant’s CV. We took a straw poll of professional recruiters from across the retail industry and the  overwhelming response to personal statements were, well, underwhelming.personal statements

The case for including a personal statement

Each of the following arguments are direct quotes from professional retail recruiters:

  • I do think they have a place if someone is making a big career change – moving location or sector etc – as they can use it to explain what they’re up to.”
  • “A good profile at the top of the CV can be a nice way to get an introduction to the candidate before getting into their work history – but it has to be a good one. It should give a flavour of the individual; a bit about how they work, what they are like, how they get results without being cheesy or personal (e.g. David has been married for 30 years and has two children – Betty and Charles is a real no-no).”
  • “Done well, i.e. brief and succinct, they are fine. They need to give a flavour of the person.”

The case against including a personal statement

  • “I personally don’t have one and find them a bit cringey as I like hard facts on a CV rather than someone’s personal opinion about themselves.”
  • “They are a waste of time and rarely read. People are more interested in position and employer then a “personal statement.”
  • “The majority are usually over the top bulls**t!”
  • “Often superfluous and filled with buzz words – rarely useful.”
  • “I don’t read them when they’re on a CV. They are usually quite generic.”
  • “If it has spelling mistakes, poor grammar or makes no sense or is just vacuous garbage then it gives you a good idea of the person and can be a turn off –  the same if it is really arrogant.”
  • “Irrespective of content they always leave me liking the person a little less.”
  • “Irrelevant and usually ignored.”

As you can see, the balance of opinions in this sample is against the inclusion of a personal statement on a CV when applying for a job in retail. However if prefer to keep a statement in make sure it contains information that is:

  • Relevant to the job.
  • Spell-checked.
  • Unlikely to be deemed as arrogant.


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