The Personal Statement
The purpose of having a personal or career goal statement is to give the reader of your CV a clear and inspiring reason to interview you.
A really good statement will readily convey to the person who reviews your CV:
- What you can offer them. What value you bring (it’s important that this is first).
- Why this position is a natural next step or fit for you. (it’s important to highlight key things you have been doing to lead up to this role)
- Where you see this job helping you or taking you into the future (let’s say in about 3 to 5 years time)
Personal and Career goal statements are normally placed at the very start of your CV.
Early Career Consultant example.
As a recent Fellow and Neurologist with level 3 accreditation in Neurophysiology with the Australian and New Zealand Association of Neurologists (ANZAN), I offer enthusiasm and a contemporary approach to the field.
I am competent in the full range of neurophysiology diagnostic services, including nerve conduction studies, electromyography (1000+ for 2019), and reporting of electroencephalography studies and evoked potentials. In addition, I am trained in single-fibre electromyography, magnetic stimulation, and repetitive nerve stimulation, among others.
I see this position as a rare opportunity to allow me to continue my work in nerve conduction and participate in the ongoing quality clinical research in the department.
I look forward to discussing my application further in person.
The candidate leads with their strength (contemporary knowledge) and in so doing counters a potential weakness (lack of experience). They show how they have been progressing to the role through development of special skills that are presumably needed in the job. Finally, they provide a personal reason why this would be a good opportunity for them and how the hospital would be helping them in their career.
An example of a career goal statement – for a JMO wishing to train in paediatrics
I offer 2 years outstanding performance as a resident medical officer, including succesful terms in obstetrics and in an emergency department with large numbers of paediatric admissions, I have also commenced studying a childhood diploma of health and during my paediatrics term developed entrustability with cannulation of children (10 independent cannulations). My career goal is to pursue a career in community paediatrics with a research focus on improving rates of childhood obesity. In order to pursue my goal I have volunteered my services teaching healthy lifestyles to children and parents at my local community centre and conducted research into rates of obesity in children the local area. I have recently enrolled in the Paediatric Training program of the College and feel that this particular program would be a good fit for me as it offers the types of rotations in community paediatrics that I am interested in.
When might you want to not include a statement?
There are some situations where including a job targeted personal statement may be risky. The first is if your statement does not read as authentic or perhaps appears to be somewhat unrealistic. You will likely be passionate about your career goals so its best to get some other trusted people to read your statement (in fact you should ask other people to read your entire CV for you) and ask them their opinion.
The second situation is similar to the first and is where your career goal statement is ambitious but you are unable to demonstrate much evidence in relation to pursuing your goals. In this case you may wish to temper your statement somewhat to fit your achievements to date or consider an alternative.
The third situation may be where your CV is being used for multiple job applications and you are only able to submit the one CV. In this situation, it will be risky having a CV that has a tailored statement that does not fit with all jobs you are interviewing for.
Are there alternatives to career goal statements?
The answer is Yes. You can write a career summary, highlighting a few key achievements. You might want to intersperse these with some key capabilities (things you do particularly well). Alternatively, you may have a really good quote from a written reference from one of your referees that you feel helps to sell your candidacy.
Tip: The content of your CV should reinforce your personal statement.
Someone who reviews your CV should be able to see severely examples that demonstrate how you have been endeavouring to pursue your goal. For e.g. if your goal is to be a hand surgeon in ten years’ time have you undertaken any placements in hand surgery, have you taken any postgraduate surgical courses, do you have a hand surgeon as a mentor or referee?
Example 1 – Critical Care
I offer 3 years of medical experience with approximately 15 months across emergency, intensive care and anaesthetic roles. I have been entrusted with a range of procedures included arterial line insertion and lumbar puncture. I now wish to pursue a career in critical care as I enjoy the challenge of working with unwell and complex patients. In order to pursue my goal, I have attended 3 critical courses in the past 2 years to expand my knowledge. I also have a particular interest in ultrasound, and to that end I have pursued opportunities to observe and perform under supervision ultrasound-guided procedures. These include intercostal catheter insertions during my Respiratory term, PICC line and midline insertion during my Medical Oncology term, and echocardiography during my Cardiology term.
There are many good elements to this statement. The applicant first lists the total relevant experience they bring to the role and some unique procedures they have already mastered. The candidate wants to train in critical care and has a good altruistic reason for this (enjoys working with complex and unwell patients). They are able to show that this is a long-term aspiration as they have undertaken many placements in the critical care area. The interest in ultrasound complement the career goal as this is an advancing technology area pertinent to critical care. The competency in performing complex procedures also helps an employer see this candidate as having an edge (will not need to be trained from scratch).
The statement could be improved by talking about pertinent research or professional developments related to critical care as well as some indication about how the candidate has prepared themselves for potential College training (for e.g. reviewing the relevant first sage curriculum and entry requirements for Emergency Medicine, Anaesthetics and Intensive Care).
Example 2 – Cardiology
I wish to pursue a career in cardiology with a focus on clinical research. To pursue my goal, whilst at medical school I did an honours project on patterns of prescribing for patients with acute coronary syndrome, as well as an elective in cardiology at xxxxx. As a JMO I have strived to obtain placements in cardiology, I have commenced a Master of Internal Medicine and volunteered in teaching medical students in order to prepare myself for physician training in the broader sense.
Often obtaining experience in a particular subspecialty field is difficult as a junior doctor but there are often opportunities to demonstrate long-term career planning in other situations. In this case, the doctor is able to talk about a research project that was of relevance as well as choosing an elective in that area. More broadly as Cardiology sits within the field of Internal Medicine it is relevant to talk about plans and achievements in relation to Internal Medicine.
As per the first example, it would be worth also adding a sentence that indicates the doctor is preparing for College training by having undertaken some research about training with the Royal Australasian College of Physicians (perhaps even applying for Basic Physician Training).
It would also be better to list what they offer the employer first.
Example 3 – International Medical Graduate
I offer over 10 years of medical experience, including extensive experience at a specialist level in my country in the fields of internal, geriatric and critical care medicine. I have recently completed the Australian Medical Council Certificate and am now seeking a suitable resident medical officer or unaccredited trainee position in your facility in order to complete my requirements for general registration.
I would be comfortable working in a range of settings and rotations however my recent experience has been in leading an emergency department in a secondary hospital (which includes coverage of intensive care) as well as involvement in psychogeriatric services, including general geriatric medicine as well as psychological management and assessment of elderly patients with cognitive decline.
I have increased familiarity with the western medical system by virtue of completing steps 1 and 2 of the United States Medical Licensing Examinations.
I do sincerely hope that I will have the opportunity to work in your hospital.
Writing personal statements for IMG resumes for the first job in Australia can be tricky. Its best to be as upfront about why you are applying as possible.
Here the candidate leads with their experience as valuable and points out their expertise in medicine, which will be helpful to most IMG entry level roles. They indicate they are seeking a job to help with general registration.
Importantly they try to stand out from other candidates by highlighting the completion of USMLE exam steps.
I would recommend changing the final sentence to indicate that they would be open to other suitable opportunities as well.