Personal Statement? Career Objective? What?

at desk

Struggling to write a personal statement - or should you really be writing a career objective? And what on earth is the difference anyway? Read on....

Personal statements may be requested by organisations as part of the application process which is the case for Internz profiles.
On the other hand, a career objective is useful to include on a CV if a personal statement is not required, and it can be an extremely useful addition to your CV if written well.

Here is what each is designed to do.

What is a personal statement?

A personal statement for an internship application should be a few sentences that highlight your unique fit to the subject area or area of work you are interested in.

A personal statement for a job application should be a few sentences that highlight your unique fit to the role you are applying for.

Whether aimed at an area of work or a role, it must be personal, it must talk about you, it must not just be copied from another.

A personal statement is a short introduction of yourself. It highlights your current employment situation, your personality, your skills, your career aspirations and the point of difference you can offer the organisation in that role.

Organisations may stipulate a length, but if not, it is best to keep it to approximately four to six lines – one or two paragraphs maximum.

It should focus on your skills and achievements – the ones that are relevant to the job. The idea is to make the employer feel you’d be a good fit for the role and want to find out more. It is NOT a career objective.

The health and education sectors will most commonly ask for a personal statement rather than a career objective.

A personal statement …

  • should be in first person. The language can also be slightly less formal than your CV and gives you the opportunity to inject your personality into it, but the language must be appropriate to the role you’re applying for
  • is about selling yourself without exaggerating. So be focused and to the point. A good approach is to outline your skills and strengths by referring to experiences you’ve done rather than writing sweeping generalisations full of adjectives
  • must be unique to you, and not blandly state the obvious or repeat overused phrases and buzzwords
    should not have bullet points because bullet points turn your statement into a list
  • is usually a separate piece of writing to your CV
  • must be unique, not copied off the internet. Remember it is your personal (i.e. unique) statement about you

Personal statement example

“I’m Fatima, a third year aspiring designer and entrepreneurial student. Throughout my degree I have worked on a diverse range of projects that have immersed me in the creation of digital experiences and content for potential businesses, customers, and organisations. I am driven by collaboration, innovation and a thirst to explore creative ideas. With a human centric design background and a love for stories, I want to use my communication design skill set to help contribute to digital and physical experiences that transform brands, engage customers, build relationships and grows businesses.”

And what about a career objective?

A career objective is short and simple – think stripped back! It sits on the first page of your CV, after your contact details. It states the type of job you’re interested in and explains why you are interested. This is where you show your motivation for applying in a way that highlights your strengths. (And that isn't by saying you're wanting an amazing job in a great company!)

A career objective is...

  • targeted, emphasising the role, rather than you as a person.
  • draws attention to specific skills you have to offer for the role - but don’t write a whole lot of fluffy exaggerated lines about your abilities, just focus on the role in question and your skills for the role.

A career objective is more commonly used on a CV than a personal statement unless the application specifically requests a personal statement or you are applying for a role in the Health or Education sector.

Career objective example

“To gain a graduate position working in a branding team for [ name of organisation], where I can utilise my communication design and social media skills and experience to further improve brand awareness and engagement.”

For more help or information on how to write CVs, cover letters etc please sign up for an Employability and Careers workshop through CareerHub.

Written by Angela McCarthy, AUT Employability and Careers writer