For job applications
Many job applications will require a personal statement or ask an open ended question such as: “Please give any other information in support of your application”.
You can find advice on how to approach answering these questions in our short course on Application Forms on the Careers Toolkit.
For further study
Before you start writing your personal statement for applying to any course, you should make sure you have done your research. Make sure you know:
- The content of the course, you should have a clear idea of what you will be studying and how you will be assessed
- How does it fit with your career plans? Will this course give you the relevant qualification, knowledge or experience to take the next step in your career?
- About the institution. What is its reputation? Is it in a good location? Does it have the facilities you are looking for?
You can find more advice on the considering further study section of our website.
The personal statement is your chance to provide evidence of why you want to teach, what relevant experience you have with children and young people you have (and what you have learned from it), and why you are ideally suited to a career in Teaching. Providers will be interested in the range of skills you would bring, for example, practical experience, managing people, working with or leading a team, and communication skills.
Download our comprehensive guide to writing an effective PGDE personal statement, Postgraduate Study - Teacher Training Applications 2022-23 - latest advice.
Check our events calendar for upcoming regular briefing sessions on writing personal statements for PGDE applications.
Unlike Undergraduate courses, most Masters courses or other postgraduate courses do not have a central platform or process for applying. Each course will have its own application process and expectations of a Personal Statement. Make sure to read instructions carefully and look for information on:
- Deadline – late applications may not be considered so please check for a deadline if there is one.
- Length – most will have a strict limit in either words or characters. Use this as a guide for how long to make it, but do not go over as some platforms will cut you off at the limit.
- Content – some institutions will give clear instructions of what to include or even what not to include. Always follow instructions if they are provided.
If there are no suggestions of what to include or how to structure your statement then you can use this suggested structure:
- Clearly explain why you are interested in the course. Try to be specific, show an understanding of what the course includes, demonstrate a genuine interest in the subject area and if relevant make links to how it will support your career.
- Give details on why you want to study at a particular institution, e.g. course structure, course reputation, research excellence, opportunity to work with a particular research group or academic(s).
- Include details of how your previous studies have prepared you to succeed on this course. Include any relevant details such as: your dissertation topic, academic projects, academic awards, achievements and transferable skills.
- Include examples from extracurricular activities or work experience, which demonstrate personal qualities or skills that are transferrable to postgraduate study e.g. working under pressure, time management. Demonstrate your ability to balance work/study/leisure activities by giving specific examples.
- If the course has specific entry requirements, then make sure to address these.
- Provide a strong summary at the end reinforcing your motivation to study and to succeed on the course.
- Write out your personal statement on a word processing document before pasting it into the application form and use a UK spell checker if applying in the UK.
- Be specific and avoid sweeping statements or generalisations ie. “I always give 100%”.
- Ensure that you give specific personal examples of your skills, knowledge, personal qualities and experience to back up your suitability for the course.
- Be positive and enthusiastic.
- Always read over your personal statement or ask someone else to read over your statement before submitting.
- Be original, be yourself. Your statement should sound like something you would say in a formal setting and is not an academic piece of writing.
- Avoid clichés and unnecessary information that doesn’t add value.
Applying for a PhD is quite different to applying for a Masters or Undergraduate degree. The application may require you to submit a combination of some of these documents:
- application form
- cover letter
- research proposal
- personal statement
- motivation statement
Requirements of what to include may vary by university and by subject area. Read any instructions provided in the application carefully and contact the named contact for the role if it is unclear.
This personal statement guide from Find a PhD gives a useful overview of the process and what you might need to include.
Advice on the use of Generative AI (including ChatGPT)
We asked ChatGPT for advice on using it for job applications. Below are the key points, which we agree are helpful:
- Although ChatGPT can be a helpful tool for drafting content it is essential that you personalise what you write in order to showcase your skills, experience and personal attributes. Always tailor what you write to the organisation and role
- ChatGPT doesn’t always generate accurate information. Always check facts, edit for accuracy and relevance and ensure the language and tone is appropriate for a job application
- Be honest: if using ChatGPT might raise issues or concerns with an employer explain why you used it and how it helped you
This advice applies to all submissions you make as part of the application process including CVs, cover letters, application forms, essays, reports, psychometric assessments, and technical challenges. Submitting work written by someone else, including AI, is viewed as plagiarism by employers and as such would result in the rejection of your application.
The Careers Service has many tools to support you in writing unique content for your applications and in preparing for every stage of the application process. Please use them and seek advice if you are unsure so you are not caught out.