Do you remember the last time you reviewed your website’s “About” page? Your LinkedIn bio? The cover letter template to your CV?
These are all examples of digital personal statements. And they all tend to be neglected by busy professionals with more to do than there are hours in the day.
This neglect is unfortunate because the personal statement remains a critical piece of personal and professional branding online. The good news is that it’s easy to reverse. Use these five tips to improve your online personal statement and make a first impression that gets results.
1. Link Out to Your LinkedIn
You can and should place your personal statement in multiple locations online. Among these, LinkedIn is the undisputed nerve center. And so, with the obvious exception of your LinkedIn statement itself, all instances of your online personal statement should contain a clearly marked link to your personal LinkedIn profile. Your brand identity should “live” on LinkedIn.
2. Contextualize Your Achievements
Conventional wisdom has it that only your two most recent roles really matter to the people looking at your CV. By extension, the same logic applies to people reading your personal statement.
That’s not quite right. Yes, where you are now is more important than where you’ve been for the people looking to take you somewhere else. But don’t shy away from contextualizing your achievements with information pulled from deeper in the past.
This is especially important when that information remains relevant to your present and future. For example, the Inc profile for Steve Streit, a finance entrepreneur, notes that Streit was a founder and longtime CEO of Green Dot Corporation, which played a major role in developing the modern prepaid debit card industry. It’s impossible to talk about Steve Streit’s work today without noting his history-making backstory.
3. Develop a Throughline or Narrative for Your Career Arc
Every personal statement needs a theme. This is all the more important when that statement involves some twists and turns. If you can’t avoid discussing a past career change, or you’re reworking your statement in preparation for such a change, you need to talk about it deftly and concisely, writes careers expert Lily Zhang. Don’t dance around the subject.
4. Keep It Short and Sweet
Your personal statement should be direct and to the point. Not curt or rude, of course, but not flowery or self-congratulatory either. You’ve got work to do, after all, and not a moment to lose in doing it.
5. Customize the Content for Your Audience Without Obscuring the Throughline
Don’t use a single “templated” personal statement. You’re too complex and interesting to get away with that. Instead, customize each version of your personal statement for the audience reading it: hiring managers, potential investors in your startup, people researching you as a candidate for local political office, whatever. And be honest about what you seek from each audience. Don’t shy away from making the ask.
You Deserve to Be Noticed
A strong online personal statement helps you stand out from the crowd and achieve your objectives, whatever they might be. More simply put, a strong online personal statement gets you noticed. Even if you don’t enjoy being the center of attention, getting noticed (and getting results) is a very good thing indeed.