Cover Letter vs Personal Statement [With Examples]

When it comes to applying for a job or a graduate program, you may come across two common requirements: a cover letter and a personal statement. While they may seem similar, there are key differences between the two that every applicant should be aware of. In this article, we'll explore what a personal statement and a cover letter are, when they are used, their similarities and differences, and provide examples of each.

What is a Personal Statement?

A personal statement is a brief essay that highlights your skills, experiences, and goals. It is usually required for graduate school applications, but it can also be requested by employers. The purpose of a personal statement is to demonstrate your fit for a program or a position by showcasing your unique qualifications and motivations.

A personal statement should be well-crafted and tailored to the specific program or position you are applying for. It should showcase your strengths and demonstrate your passion for your field. Your personal statement should also highlight any relevant experiences, such as research projects or internships, that have prepared you for the program or position you are applying for.

What is a Cover Letter?

A cover letter is a one-page document that accompanies your resume when applying for a job. It is a formal letter that introduces you to a potential employer and explains why you are interested in the job and how your skills and experiences make you a good fit for the position.

A cover letter should be personalized for each job application and should not simply restate your resume. It should highlight your skills and experiences that are most relevant to the job, and explain how you will add value to the organization. A well-crafted cover letter can help you stand out from other applicants and can increase your chances of getting an interview.

When is Each Used?

A personal statement is typically used for graduate school applications, while a cover letter is used for job applications. However, there may be some overlap in certain situations, such as when applying for a job in academia or research, where a personal statement may be requested instead of a cover letter.

Similarities

Both a personal statement and a cover letter are used to showcase your qualifications and explain why you are a good fit for a program or a position. They are both formal documents that require careful attention to detail and should be tailored to the specific program or position you are applying for.

Differences

The main difference between a personal statement and a cover letter is their purpose. A personal statement is meant to demonstrate your fit for a program and showcase your unique qualifications and motivations, while a cover letter is meant to introduce you to a potential employer and explain why you are interested in the job and how your skills and experiences make you a good fit for the position.

Another key difference is their length. A personal statement is typically longer than a cover letter and may be several pages, while a cover letter is usually one page or less.

Cover Letter Examples

Example 1: marketing coordinator cover letter.

Why this works: This cover letter is tailored to the specific job and company, highlighting the candidate's relevant experience and achievements. The tone is professional and enthusiastic, showing the candidate's passion for the industry and desire to contribute to the company's success.

Example 2: Sales Representative Cover Letter

Why this works: This cover letter focuses on the candidate's sales experience and achievements, emphasizing their ability to meet and exceed targets and build strong relationships with clients. The language is confident and persuasive, showing the candidate's ability to sell themselves and their skills.

Example 3: Human Resources Manager Cover Letter

Why this works: This cover letter highlights the candidate's extensive HR experience and achievements, showing their ability to lead and innovate in the field. The tone is professional and confident, demonstrating the candidate's ability to establish credibility and build relationships with stakeholders.

Example 4: Graphic Designer Cover Letter

Why this works: This cover letter showcases the candidate's design skills and experience, emphasizing their ability to create compelling visuals and drive user engagement. The tone is enthusiastic and passionate, conveying the candidate's love for design and eagerness to contribute to the company's creative vision.

Personal Statement Examples

Example 1: medical school personal statement.

Why this works: This personal statement is focused on the candidate's motivation and passion for medicine, demonstrating their commitment to the field and their desire to make a difference. The language is clear and concise, showing the candidate's ability to communicate their ideas effectively.

Example 2: Law School Personal Statement

Why this works: This personal statement is focused on the candidate's motivation and passion for law, demonstrating their commitment to social justice and their desire to use the law as a tool for positive change. The language is clear and persuasive, showing the candidate's ability to make a compelling argument.

Example 3: MBA Personal Statement

Why this works: This personal statement is focused on the candidate's professional experience and goals, demonstrating their commitment to business leadership and their desire to use the MBA program as a platform for growth and development. The language is clear and results-oriented, showing the candidate's ability to apply their skills and knowledge to real-world problems.

Example 4: Education Personal Statement

Why this works: This personal statement is focused on the candidate's experience and goals as an educator, showing their commitment to teaching, learning, and innovation. The language is clear and enthusiastic, demonstrating the candidate's ability to inspire and motivate both students and colleagues.

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How to write a great cover letter in 2024: tips and structure

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A cover letter is a personalized letter that introduces you to a potential employer, highlights your qualifications, and explains why you're a strong fit for a specific job.

Hate or love them, these brief documents allow job seekers to make an impression and stand out from the pile of other applications. Penning a thoughtful cover letter shows the hiring team you care about earning the position.

Here’s everything you need to know about how to write a cover letter — and a great one, at that.

What is a cover letter and why does it matter?

A professional cover letter is a one-page document you submit alongside your CV or resume as part of a job application. Typically, they’re about half a page or around 150–300 words.

An effective cover letter doesn’t just rehash your CV; it’s your chance to highlight your proudest moments, explain why you want the job, and state plainly what you bring to the table.

Show the reviewer you’re likable, talented, and will add to the company’s culture . You can refer to previous jobs and other information from your CV, but only if it helps tell a story about you and your career choices .

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What 3 things should you include in a cover letter?

A well-crafted cover letter can help you stand out to potential employers. To make your cover letter shine, here are three key elements to include:

1. Personalization

Address the hiring manager or recruiter by name whenever possible. If the job posting doesn't include a name, research to find out who will be reviewing applications. Personalizing your cover letter shows that you've taken the time to tailor your application to the specific company and role.

2. Highlight relevant achievements and skills

Emphasize your most relevant skills , experiences, and accomplishments that directly relate to the job you're applying for. Provide specific examples of how your skills have benefited previous employers and how they can contribute to the prospective employer's success. Use quantifiable achievements , such as improved efficiency, cost savings, or project success, to demonstrate your impact.

3. Show enthusiasm and fit

Express your enthusiasm for the company and the position you're applying for. Explain why you are interested in this role and believe you are a good fit for the organization. Mention how your values, goals, and skills align with the company's mission and culture. Demonstrating that you've done your research can make a significant impression.

What do hiring managers look for in a cover letter?

Employers look for several key elements in a cover letter. These include:

Employers want to see that your cover letter is specifically tailored to the position you are applying for. It should demonstrate how your skills, experiences, and qualifications align with the job requirements.

Clear and concise writing

A well-written cover letter is concise, easy to read, and error-free. Employers appreciate clear and effective communication skills , so make sure your cover letter showcases your ability to express yourself effectively.

Demonstrated knowledge of the company

Employers want to see that you are genuinely interested in their organization. Mention specific details about the company, such as recent achievements or projects, to show that you are enthusiastic about joining their team.

Achievements and accomplishments

Highlight your relevant achievements and accomplishments that demonstrate your qualifications for the position. Use specific examples to showcase your skills and show how they can benefit the employer.

Enthusiasm and motivation

Employers want to hire candidates who are excited about the opportunity and motivated to contribute to the company's success. Express your enthusiasm and passion for the role and explain why you are interested in working for the company.

Professionalism

A cover letter should be professional in tone and presentation. Use formal language, address the hiring manager appropriately, and follow standard business letter formatting.

excited-woman-in-her-office-how-to-write-a-cover-letter

How do you structure a cover letter?

A well-structured cover letter follows a specific format that makes it easy for the reader to understand your qualifications and enthusiasm for the position. Here's a typical structure for a cover letter:

Contact information

Include your name, address, phone number, and email address at the top of the letter. Place your contact information at the beginning so that it's easy for the employer to reach you.

Employer's contact information

Opening paragraph, middle paragraph(s), closing paragraph, complimentary close, additional contact information.

Repeat your contact information (name, phone number, and email) at the end of the letter, just in case the employer needs it for quick reference.

Remember to keep your cover letter concise and focused. It should typically be no more than one page in length. Proofread your letter carefully to ensure it is free from spelling and grammatical errors. Tailor each cover letter to the specific job application to make it as relevant and impactful as possible.

How to write a good cover letter (with examples)

The best letters are unique, tailored to the job description, and written in your voice — but that doesn’t mean you can’t use a job cover letter template.

Great cover letters contain the same basic elements and flow a certain way. Take a look at this cover letter structure for ref erence while you construct your own.

1. Add a header and contact information

While reading your cover letter, the recruiter shouldn’t have to look far to find who wrote it. Your document should include a basic heading with the following information:

  • Pronouns (optional)
  • Location (optional)
  • Email address
  • Phone number (optional)
  • Relevant links, such as your LinkedIn profile , portfolio, or personal website (optional)

You can pull this information directly from your CV. Put it together, and it will look something like this:

Christopher Pike

San Francisco, California

[email protected]

Alternatively, if the posting asks you to submit your cover letter in the body of an email, you can include this information in your signature. For example:

Warm regards,

Catherine Janeway

Bloomington, Indiana

[email protected]

(555) 999 - 2222

man-using-his-laptop-while-smiling-how-to-write-a-cover-letter

2. Include a personal greeting

Always begin your cover letter by addressing the hiring manager — preferably by name. You can use the person’s first and last name. Make sure to include a relevant title, like Dr., Mr., or Ms. For example, “Dear Mr. John Doe.”

Avoid generic openings like “To whom it may concern,” “Dear sir or madam,” or “Dear hiring manager.” These introductions sound impersonal — like you’re copy-pasting cover letters — and can work against you in the hiring process.

Be careful, though. When using someone’s name, you don’t want to use the wrong title or accidentally misgender someone. If in doubt, using only their name is enough. You could also opt for a gender-neutral title, like Mx.

Make sure you’re addressing the right person in your letter — ideally, the person who’s making the final hiring decision. This isn’t always specified in the job posting, so you may have to do some research to learn the name of the hiring manager.

3. Draw them in with an opening story

The opening paragraph of your cover letter should hook the reader. You want it to be memorable, conversational, and extremely relevant to the job you’re pursuing. 

There’s no need for a personal introduction — you’ve already included your name in the heading. But you should make reference to the job you’re applying for. A simple “Thank you for considering my application for the role of [job title] at [company],” will suffice.

Then you can get into the “Why” of your job application. Drive home what makes this specific job and this company so appealing to you. Perhaps you’re a fan of their products, you’re passionate about their mission, or you love their brand voice. Whatever the case, this section is where you share your enthusiasm for the role.

Here’s an example opening paragraph. In this scenario, you’re applying for a digital marketing role at a bicycle company:

“Dear Mr. John Doe,

Thank you for considering my application for the role of Marketing Coordinator at Bits n’ Bikes.

My parents bought my first bike at one of your stores. I’ll never forget the freedom I felt when I learned to ride it. My father removed my training wheels, and my mom sent me barrelling down the street. You provide joy to families across the country — and I want to be part of that.”

4. Emphasize why you’re best for the job

Your next paragraphs should be focused on the role you’re applying to. Highlight your skill set and why you’re a good fit for the needs and expectations associated with the position. Hiring managers want to know what you’ll bring to the job, not just any role.

Start by studying the job description for hints. What problem are they trying to solve with this hire? What skills and qualifications do they mention first or more than once? These are indicators of what’s important to the hiring manager.

Search for details that match your experience and interests. For example, if you’re excited about a fast-paced job in public relations, you might look for these elements in a posting:

  • They want someone who can write social media posts and blog content on tight deadlines
  • They value collaboration and input from every team member
  • They need a planner who can come up with strong PR strategies

Highlight how you fulfill these requirements:

“I’ve always been a strong writer. From blog posts to social media, my content pulls in readers and drives traffic to product pages. For example, when I worked at Bits n’ Bikes, I developed a strategic blog series about bike maintenance that increased our sales of spare parts and tools by 50% — we could see it in our web metrics.

Thanks to the input of all of our team members, including our bike mechanics, my content delivered results.”

5. End with a strong closing paragraph and sign off gracefully

Your closing paragraph is your final chance to hammer home your enthusiasm about the role and your unique ability to fill it. Reiterate the main points you explained in the body paragraphs and remind the reader of what you bring to the table.

You can also use the end of your letter to relay other important details, like whether you’re willing to relocate for the job.

When choosing a sign-off, opt for a phrase that sounds professional and genuine. Reliable options include “Sincerely” and “Kind regards.”

Here’s a strong closing statement for you to consider:

“I believe my enthusiasm, skills, and work experience as a PR professional will serve Bits n’ Bikes very well. I would love to meet to further discuss my value-add as your next Director of Public Relations. Thank you for your consideration. I hope we speak soon.

man-reading-carefully-how-to-write-a-cover-letter

Tips to write a great cover letter that compliments your resume

When writing your own letter, try not to copy the example excerpts word-for-word. Instead, use this cover letter structure as a baseline to organize your ideas. Then, as you’re writing, use these extra cover letter tips to add your personal touch:

  • Keep your cover letter different from your resume : Your cover letter should not duplicate the information on your resume. Instead, it should provide context and explanations for key points in your resume, emphasizing how your qualifications match the specific job you're applying for.
  • Customize your cover letter . Tailor your cover letter for each job application. Address the specific needs of the company and the job posting, demonstrating that you've done your homework and understand their requirements.
  • Show enthusiasm and fit . Express your enthusiasm for the company and position in the cover letter. Explain why you are interested in working for this company and how your values, goals, and skills align with their mission and culture.
  • Use keywords . Incorporate keywords from the job description and industry terms in your cover letter. This can help your application pass through applicant tracking systems (ATS) and demonstrate that you're well-versed in the field.
  • Keep it concise . Your cover letter should be succinct and to the point, typically no more than one page. Focus on the most compelling qualifications and experiences that directly support your application.
  • Be professional . Maintain a professional tone and structure in your cover letter. Proofread it carefully to ensure there are no errors.
  • Address any gaps or concerns . If there are gaps or concerns in your resume, such as employment gaps or a change in career direction, briefly address them in your cover letter. Explain any relevant circumstances and how they have shaped your qualifications and determination.
  • Provide a call to action . Conclude your cover letter with a call to action, inviting the employer to contact you for further discussion. Mention that you've attached your resume for their reference.
  • Follow the correct format . Use a standard cover letter format like the one above, including your contact information, a formal salutation, introductory and closing paragraphs, and your signature. Ensure that it complements your resume without redundancy.
  • Pick the right voice and tone . Try to write like yourself, but adapt to the tone and voice of the company. Look at the job listing, company website, and social media posts. Do they sound fun and quirky, stoic and professional, or somewhere in-between? This guides your writing style.
  • Tell your story . You’re an individual with unique expertise, motivators, and years of experience. Tie the pieces together with a great story. Introduce how you arrived at this point in your career, where you hope to go , and how this prospective company fits in your journey. You can also explain any career changes in your resume.
  • Show, don’t tell . Anyone can say they’re a problem solver. Why should a recruiter take their word for it if they don’t back it up with examples? Instead of naming your skills, show them in action. Describe situations where you rose to the task, and quantify your success when you can.
  • Be honest . Avoid highlighting skills you don’t have. This will backfire if they ask you about them in an interview. Instead, shift focus to the ways in which you stand out.
  • Avoid clichés and bullet points . These are signs of lazy writing. Do your best to be original from the first paragraph to the final one. This highlights your individuality and demonstrates the care you put into the letter.
  • Proofread . Always spellcheck your cover letter. Look for typos, grammatical errors, and proper flow. We suggest reading it out loud. If it sounds natural rolling off the tongue, it will read naturally as well.

woman-writing-on-her-notebook-how-to-write-a-cover-letter

Common cover letter writing FAQs

How long should a cover letter be.

A cover letter should generally be concise and to the point. It is recommended to keep it to one page or less, focusing on the most relevant information that highlights your qualifications and fits the job requirements.

Should I include personal information in a cover letter?

While it's important to introduce yourself and provide your contact information, avoid including personal details such as your age, marital status, or unrelated hobbies. Instead, focus on presenting your professional qualifications and aligning them with the job requirements.

Can I use the same cover letter for multiple job applications?

While it may be tempting to reuse a cover letter, it is best to tailor each cover letter to the specific job you are applying for. This allows you to highlight why you are a good fit for that particular role and show genuine interest in the company.

Do I need to address my cover letter to a specific person?

Whenever possible, it is advisable to address your cover letter to a specific person, such as the hiring manager or recruiter. If the job posting does not provide this information, try to research and find the appropriate contact. If all else fails, you can use a generic salutation such as "Dear Hiring Manager."

Should I include references in my cover letter?

It is generally not necessary to include references in your cover letter. Save this information for when the employer explicitly requests it. Instead, focus on showcasing your qualifications and achievements that make you a strong candidate for the position.

It’s time to start writing your stand-out cover letter

The hardest part of writing is getting started. 

Hopefully, our tips gave you some jumping-off points and confidence . But if you’re really stuck, looking at cover letter examples and resume templates will help you decide where to get started. 

There are numerous sample cover letters available online. Just remember that you’re a unique, well-rounded person, and your cover letter should reflect that. Using our structure, you can tell your story while highlighting your passion for the role. 

Doing your research, including strong examples of your skills, and being courteous is how to write a strong cover letter. Take a breath , flex your fingers, and get typing. Before you know it, your job search will lead to a job interview.

If you want more personalized guidance, a specialized career coach can help review, edit, and guide you through creating a great cover letter that sticks.

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Elizabeth Perry

Content Marketing Manager, ACC

3 cover letter examples to help you catch a hiring manager’s attention

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Writing the Personal Statement

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This handout provides information about writing personal statements for academic and other positions.

The personal statement, your opportunity to sell yourself in the application process, generally falls into one of two categories:

1. The general, comprehensive personal statement:

This allows you maximum freedom in terms of what you write and is the type of statement often prepared for standard medical or law school application forms.

2. The response to very specific questions:

Often, business and graduate school applications ask specific questions, and your statement should respond specifically to the question being asked. Some business school applications favor multiple essays, typically asking for responses to three or more questions.

Questions to ask yourself before you write:

  • What's special, unique, distinctive, and/or impressive about you or your life story?
  • What details of your life (personal or family problems, history, people or events that have shaped you or influenced your goals) might help the committee better understand you or help set you apart from other applicants?
  • When did you become interested in this field and what have you learned about it (and about yourself) that has further stimulated your interest and reinforced your conviction that you are well suited to this field? What insights have you gained?
  • How have you learned about this field—through classes, readings, seminars, work or other experiences, or conversations with people already in the field?
  • If you have worked a lot during your college years, what have you learned (leadership or managerial skills, for example), and how has that work contributed to your growth?
  • What are your career goals?
  • Are there any gaps or discrepancies in your academic record that you should explain (great grades but mediocre LSAT or GRE scores, for example, or a distinct upward pattern to your GPA if it was only average in the beginning)?
  • Have you had to overcome any unusual obstacles or hardships (for example, economic, familial, or physical) in your life?
  • What personal characteristics (for example, integrity, compassion, and/or persistence) do you possess that would improve your prospects for success in the field or profession? Is there a way to demonstrate or document that you have these characteristics?
  • What skills (for example, leadership, communicative, analytical) do you possess?
  • Why might you be a stronger candidate for graduate school—and more successful and effective in the profession or field than other applicants?
  • What are the most compelling reasons you can give for the admissions committee to be interested in you?

General advice

Answer the questions that are asked

  • If you are applying to several schools, you may find questions in each application that are somewhat similar.
  • Don't be tempted to use the same statement for all applications. It is important to answer each question being asked, and if slightly different answers are needed, you should write separate statements. In every case, be sure your answer fits the question being asked.

Tell a story

  • Think in terms of showing or demonstrating through concrete experience. One of the worst things you can do is to bore the admissions committee. If your statement is fresh, lively, and different, you'll be putting yourself ahead of the pack. If you distinguish yourself through your story, you will make yourself memorable.

Be specific

  • Don't, for example, state that you would make an excellent doctor unless you can back it up with specific reasons. Your desire to become a lawyer, engineer, or whatever should be logical, the result of specific experience that is described in your statement. Your application should emerge as the logical conclusion to your story.

Find an angle

  • If you're like most people, your life story lacks drama, so figuring out a way to make it interesting becomes the big challenge. Finding an angle or a "hook" is vital.

Concentrate on your opening paragraph

  • The lead or opening paragraph is generally the most important. It is here that you grab the reader's attention or lose it. This paragraph becomes the framework for the rest of the statement.

Tell what you know

  • The middle section of your essay might detail your interest and experience in your particular field, as well as some of your knowledge of the field. Too many people graduate with little or no knowledge of the nuts and bolts of the profession or field they hope to enter. Be as specific as you can in relating what you know about the field and use the language professionals use in conveying this information. Refer to experiences (work, research, etc.), classes, conversations with people in the field, books you've read, seminars you've attended, or any other source of specific information about the career you want and why you're suited to it. Since you will have to select what you include in your statement, the choices you make are often an indication of your judgment.

Don't include some subjects

  • There are certain things best left out of personal statements. For example, references to experiences or accomplishments in high school or earlier are generally not a good idea. Don't mention potentially controversial subjects (for example, controversial religious or political issues).

Do some research, if needed

  • If a school wants to know why you're applying to it rather than another school, do some research to find out what sets your choice apart from other universities or programs. If the school setting would provide an important geographical or cultural change for you, this might be a factor to mention.

Write well and correctly

  • Be meticulous. Type and proofread your essay very carefully. Many admissions officers say that good written skills and command of correct use of language are important to them as they read these statements. Express yourself clearly and concisely. Adhere to stated word limits.

Avoid clichés

  • A medical school applicant who writes that he is good at science and wants to help other people is not exactly expressing an original thought. Stay away from often-repeated or tired statements.

For more information on writing a personal statement, see the personal statement vidcast .

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If you’re zipping through the documents  in your CS&A candidate file, checking “to-be-completed” items off a list ( resume : check. transcripts: check. references : check.), you might pause when you come to the personal statement. Burdened by personal and professional commitments (those papers aren’t going to grade themselves), you might decide that you can skip it. You’ll be sending cover letters to each school that interests you anyway. And how different can the two documents be?

If this is the way you’re thinking, you’re missing an opportunity to demonstrate who you are without the constraints of addressing a particular school. Here are some key differences between a cover letter and a  personal statement —both important parts of your candidate file.

1. Cover Letter = Them. Personal Statement = You

While to a certain extent every document you submit during your application process is for and about the school to which you’re applying, the cover letter presents a more direct opportunity to specify the attributes of a particular school that align with your past successes and future plans.  The inherent vagueness of the personal statement allows you to discuss yourself more generally, without having to fit into the mold of a specific school.

2.  Presenting All Tiers of Your Experience

We all have them: the “top tier” experience in our resumes. These are the positions with the best titles, the coolest opportunities, the real “turning points” in our careers. When you’re writing a cover letter, you need to address your top tier experiences, as well as any experience you’ve had that’s directly related to the opportunity at hand. That’s a lot of showcasing to do in one page.

Your personal statement provides an opportunity to highlight some of your “second tier” experiences—the ones that may have lasted for a shorter time or occurred years ago, but that may have made a real difference in the formation of your career. Your personal statement should complement—not completely echo—your cover letter. The two documents together allow you to flesh out some parts of your history that you may have had to rush by submitting solely a cover letter.

3.  Hook ’em With a Story

Blank space on a cover letter is precious: you need to seamlessly condense your life story and catch your reader’s attention in a page or less. There’s not much room for the “softer” elements of presentation, like an anecdote that explains why you began teaching or a story that embodies why you love what you do.

There is room for that, however, in your personal statement. You have more room for creativity when you’re complementing—not highlighting—your accomplishments, and this creativity can create a rounder portrait of who you are.

4.  Personality

The personal statement is just that: personal. It’s an opportunity to demonstrate your personality, tone of voice, and outlook in a very real way. Spend some time writing it and making it excellent: in the initial stages of your job application, the personal statement will do a lot of the heavy lifting in answering questions about what kind of educator and person you are. Whether you make it funny, touching, or smart, be sure to make it yours.

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West Sharon 10/12/2020 at 9:18am

Extension of your professional goals: Some statements for job applications may include specific reference to your goals and how the position can help you achieve those goals. For a university personal statement, reinforce how the school s mission or coursework can prepare you for a career. In both types of statements, consider discussing relevant short- and long-term goals, such as what you hope to achieve in the school or position and where you see yourself in 5-10 years. Summary of your personal statement: A brief summary of the main points in your statement can be an effective strategy for a one-sentence conclusion or one sentence of a larger conclusion. Be sure to connect your achievements, experiences and skills directly to your future contributions with the company or university.

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Judith Hansen 9/25/2023 at 8:00am

It’s great that I found this article. I am in need of a statement of purpose writer and I decided to use a statement of purpose writer because I have never written one before. I don’t really know what they are about. Your article helped me to better understand what they are for.

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Three excellent cover letter examples

Cover letters are the first chance you have to impress an employer – they’re not just a protective jacket for your CV. Here’s our guide on what to include and how to format them

  • More CV and cover letter templates
  • Looking for a job? Explore the range of vacancies on Guardian Jobs and find the perfect role for you

The first thing a potential employer sees in your job application is the cover letter. This doesn’t just support your CV – it’s an opportunity for you to stand out from the crowd and persuade the recruiter to put you through to the next round.

Be wary of spending hours on perfecting your CV at the expense of your cover letter. If you need some inspiration on what to include and what format to use, here are our helpful guides – just remember not to copy them as exact templates.

1. Standard, conservative style

This is ideal for sectors such as business, law, accountancy and retail. For more creative sectors, a letter like this might be less appealing, and could work against you.

Dear Mr Black, Please find enclosed my CV in application for the post advertised in the Guardian on 30 November. The nature of my degree course has prepared me for this position. It involved a great deal of independent research, requiring initiative, self-motivation and a wide range of skills. For one course, [insert course], an understanding of the [insert sector] industry was essential. I found this subject very stimulating. I am a fast and accurate writer, with a keen eye for detail and I should be very grateful for the opportunity to progress to market reporting. I am able to take on the responsibility of this position immediately, and have the enthusiasm and determination to ensure that I make a success of it. Thank you for taking the time to consider this application and I look forward to hearing from you in the near future. Yours sincerely

2. Standard speculative letter

This may vary according to the nature of the organisation and the industry you’re applying to.

Dear Mr Brown, I am writing to enquire if you have any vacancies in your company. I enclose my CV for your information. As you can see, I have had extensive vacation work experience in office environments, the retail sector and service industries, giving me varied skills and the ability to work with many different types of people. I believe I could fit easily into your team. I am a conscientious person who works hard and pays attention to detail. I’m flexible, quick to pick up new skills and eager to learn from others. I also have lots of ideas and enthusiasm. I’m keen to work for a company with a great reputation and high profile like [insert company name]. I have excellent references and would be delighted to discuss any possible vacancy with you at your convenience. In case you do not have any suitable openings at the moment, I would be grateful if you would keep my CV on file for any future possibilities. Yours sincerely

3. Letter for creative jobs

We’ve used the example of a copywriter but you can adapt it for your profession. The aim of a creative letter is to be original and show you have imagination, but understand what the job entails. Balance is essential: don’t be too wacky, or it will turn off the reader.

Dear Ms Green, · Confused by commas? · Puzzled by parenthesis? · Stumped by spelling? · Perturbed by punctuation? · Annoyed at the apostrophe? (And alliteration?) Well, you’re not alone. It seems that fewer and fewer people can write. Unfortunately, there are still a lot of people who can read. So they’ll spot a gaffe from a mile off. And that means it’s a false economy, unless you’re 100% sure of yourself, to write your own materials. (Or to let clients do it for themselves.) To have materials properly copywritten is, when one considers the whole process of publishing materials and the impact that the client wishes to make, a minor expense. Sloppiness loses clients, loses customers. There is an answer. Me. Firm quotes are free. You can see some of what I do on my multilingual website at [insert web address]. If you’d like, I can get some samples out to you within 24 hours. And, if you use me, you’ll have some sort of guarantee that you can sleep soundly as those tens of thousands of copies are rolling off the presses. Luck shouldn’t come into it! With kindest regards

Other helpful resources

How to write a perfect CV and cover letter

Applying for jobs without experience? How to build and sell your skills

Five steps to the perfect graduate CV

School-leavers and graduates: how to write your first CV

How to write a personal statement for your CV

CV templates to fit every stage of your career

Looking for a job? Browse Guardian Jobs for your next career step.

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  1. Cover Letter vs Personal Statement [With Examples]

    When is Each Used? A personal statement is typically used for graduate school applications, while a cover letter is used for job applications. However, there may be some overlap in certain situations, such as when applying for a job in academia or research, where a personal statement may be requested instead of a cover letter. Similarities

  2. How to Write a Powerful Personal Statement

    1. Write a personal introduction Write an introduction that reflects you and your personality. It should say why you are interested in the job or degree and, if appropriate, your recent experience with the job type or course topics. Starting a personal statement with sentences that show who you are can help encourage the recipient to read further.

  3. 16 Winning Personal Statement Examples (And Why They Work)

    Jennifer Herrity Updated July 31, 2023 A personal statement, also sometimes known as a professional statement or resume summary, is one of the most important documents you will write when applying to schools or jobs. An exceptional personal statement can increase your chances of admission or getting a job offer.

  4. Important Differences Between a Personal Statement and a Cover Letter

    / Cover letters Important Differences Between a Personal Statement and a Cover Letter Jobstreet content team - updated on 09 March, 2022 One is personal, the other is professional. One is abstract, the other is concrete. A personal statement is a succinct essay where you tell your prospective employer about yourself.

  5. Cover Letter vs. Personal Statement

    You're working on an application, and you've been asked to provide both a cover letter and a personal statement. You start to write the cover letter, and you suddenly get the uncomfortable feeling that it might be turning into a personal statement. But how can you be sure? What's the difference?

  6. Are personal statements the new cover letter?

    • Quicker applications Applying for jobs can be a lot faster if you don't need to type out a personalised cover letter for each role. You will need to amend your CV slightly to showcase relevant experience for the job at hand, but the work is significantly less, leaving you free to apply to multiple opportunities in half the time.

  7. How To Write an Attention-Grabbing Personal Statement

    Updated 14 August 2023 If you're getting ready to apply for a job or update your CV, you will probably need to include a personal statement with your application. Recruiters and prospective employers often use personal statements to identify whether you are a good match and to choose between applicants who are close contenders for the position.

  8. The Best Cover Letter Examples for Any Job Seeker

    2. A Clear Pitch. Use the next few paragraphs of your cover letter to "hit them with the strongest results you have that are aligned with the opportunity," Godfred says. Ryan Kahn —Muse career coach and founder of The Hired Group —calls this your pitch.

  9. How to write an outstanding personal statement, job application, or

    For example. Instead of: 'I provided personal assistance and operational support to General Manager.'. You could write: 'Provided personal assistance and operational support to General Manager.'. So those are our top 5 pieces of advice to help you write the best possible personal profile, cover letter, application, etc.

  10. How to write a personal statement for a job

    A personal statement for a job should be concise and to the point, ideally around 150 words or 2-3 sentences. ... Free cover letter template for any job application Follows all the latest cover letter writing best practices You only need 30 minutes to customise it for your application Example cover letter shows you how to use the template See ...

  11. How to Write a Great Cover Letter in 2024 (+ Examples)

    1. Personalization. Address the hiring manager or recruiter by name whenever possible. If the job posting doesn't include a name, research to find out who will be reviewing applications. Personalizing your cover letter shows that you've taken the time to tailor your application to the specific company and role. 2.

  12. How To Write a Cover Letter (With Examples and Tips)

    A cover letter, also known as an application letter, is a three- to four-paragraph memo to employers explaining your interest in the job and company and your fitness for the role. It's typically submitted along with your resume in a job application.

  13. Personal Statements: Examples, Do's and Don'ts

    Career advice / Cover letter and CV advice Personal Statements: Examples, Do's and Don'ts As the name suggests, a personal statement is unique to everyone, but that does not mean there are not specific personal statement rules and guidelines to follow.

  14. The Personal Statement

    The personal statement, your opportunity to sell yourself in the application process, generally falls into one of two categories: 1. The general, comprehensive personal statement: This allows you maximum freedom in terms of what you write and is the type of statement often prepared for standard medical or law school application forms. 2.

  15. How to write a personal statement (With example)

    1. Write a personal introduction The first part of your statement can introduce your background and personality to the reader. Here, you can discuss your interest in the industry and describe how it relates to your characteristics. You could also discuss previous experience you have in the field.

  16. How to Write a Personal Statement That Gets Noticed (With ...

    1. Write an introduction that introduces yourself and your goals Write an introduction that introduces who you are and why you applying for the job or university program. Note why your interests align with the role or degree and any experience you have with this type of job or the course topics.

  17. Cover Letter vs. Personal Statement: Do I Really Need Both?

    Here are some key differences between a cover letter and a personal statement —both important parts of your candidate file. 1. Cover Letter = Them. Personal Statement = You. While to a certain extent every document you submit during your application process is for and about the school to which you're applying, the cover letter presents a ...

  18. How to Write a CV Personal Statement + Examples

    A personal statement, also called a CV profile, is a short paragraph at the top of your application. It's like an elevator pitch: a catchy summary of your expertise, skills, and achievements.

  19. 9 winning personal statement examples for a job

    1. Personal statement for a postgraduate programme Joan David Personal statement for master's programme in Public Policy and Administration London School of Policy 'I held my first textbook when I was a 23-year-old undergraduate. I know that's not a typical age for an undergraduate, but I wasn't a typical university student.

  20. Three excellent cover letter examples

    Yours sincerely. 3. Letter for creative jobs. We've used the example of a copywriter but you can adapt it for your profession. The aim of a creative letter is to be original and show you have ...

  21. How to write the perfect cover letter (With examples)

    3. Finish your cover letter Bring your cover letter to a close by reiterating your value to the company and the position you're applying for. Once again, briefly mention key experiences and qualifications. Finish the letter with thanks to the hiring manager and your personal details. 4. Format professionally

  22. How to Write a Civil Service Personal Statement for Jobs

    How to write a personal statement for a civil service job. Follow these steps to write a personal statement to get a job in this sector: 1. Introduce yourself. Briefly introduce yourself to the employer with a summary of your interests or skills that are relevant to the job. It's also useful to state your interest in the job, and you can share ...

  23. How To Write a Supporting Statement When Applying To a Job

    The following examples show how to use the templates for writing supporting statements for a job application, CV and cover letter: Example 1: supporting statement on a job application The example below shows how you can use the template to write a supporting or summarising statement on a job application: An experienced nursing assistant of ...