PS Tip 63 : Weigh up their needs against your strengths

A friend of mine once shared with me a useful way of thinking about writing personal statements, or indeed any official documentation that tries to benefit more than one person.

On the one hand, you’ve got your own strengths – you should know them pretty well, since you’ve been honing them for most of your life. On the other hand, you’ve got the needs of the employer or educational institution – They need someone to do a good job, reflect well on them and meet at least most of the requirements for the position or course.

If you imagine all of your skills inside one circle, and all of your reader’s needs in another, you’ve got the basis for a Venn diagram – ideally one with as much crossover between your strengths and the reader’s need as possible.

Your personal statement should focus primarily on items that fall within this crossover area; If you do that, you can pretty much guarantee that your statement will be both relevant, and provide a genuine and helpful guide to how you can benefit the organisation you’re applying to.

Of course, you still need to write it well, and communication skills are one of the things employers and course leaders test when they ask applicants to write statements. However, if you can indeed weigh up needs against strengths and write accordingly, it will help you improve your statement no matter how good, bad or average a writer you are.

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