Writing a personal statement for further study or a cover letter for your dream job can be more difficult than first anticipated but it doesn’t have to be! The key is RESEARCH and I’m going to show you exactly how to do it here…
Of course employers or admissions tutors want to know that you have the right skills or experiences to thrive in the role, but they also want to know that you understand what the opportunity will entail, that you are enthusiastic about what the organisation does and that you’re actually passionate about working or studying with them!
Today I am going to concentrate on 2 out of the 3 points you need to cover for most personal statements and cover letters:
· Why are you applying for this role?
· Why are you applying to this organisation?
For today, I’ll leave out ‘Why you? – What skills, abilities or experiences do you have to offer that match the job specification’ as in my experience students struggle more with the above points.
Why are you applying for this role? READ: Why are you interested in this role/further study programme?
· Have you stopped to consider what it would really be like to be in this role? This is worthwhile contemplating even if it wasn’t going to help with your application; you want to be happy in your career or field of study so it’s an important point to consider.
· A first step is to ensure you know the job description or admission requirements inside and out. What sort of tasks will you be expected to carry out? Is there a lot of team or independent work? Is this something you enjoy?
· Think about how this role would differ from a similar role in another organisation. Look at the organisation’s website or utilise careers fairs and alumni where you can talk to people doing the job already!
· Read more generally about what this kind of role would be like. Make use of websites like Prospects and TargetJobs as well as our very own careers website.
· You could also ring or email the contact listed regarding informal enquiries. Not many candidates do this and it can be a good way to get more information as well as leave a positive impression of yourself before the recruiters even read your application!
· Remember, many graduate schemes include rotations in lots of different areas so yes… you will need to research all of them!
Why are you applying to this organisation? READ: Why do you want to work for us? Or why do you want to study with us?
It can be hard to articulate why you want to join a certain company or university and too many candidates rest on vague statements like ‘top University’ or ‘world-renowned company’ without adding anything meaningful to them, or showing that they’ve done any research at all!
Here are some of the sorts of things you could explore…
· What are their values and do they reflect your own? What about the organisation’s ‘office culture’? Remember you can utilise careers fairs and alumni for this reason too!
· What sort of products or services do they offer and how does this differ to their competitors? Are there any recent business decisions that you can discuss and reflect on?
· Try to work out how this organisation is unique compared to the rest of the sector
· If you’re applying to another university for further study you can look into flagship research projects, academic interests of potential supervisors and make sure you understand what the programme will entail. A top tip is to look into the kinds of modules you’d be offered, especially if you’re applying for a taught programme, and make sure your interests align with some of those areas in your statement.
Employers and further study institutions not only want to know that you’re qualified for the opportunity but also, that you’ll be happy in the position so that is where you’re understanding of the role and organisation really comes in handy.