Whether you are a recent graduate or an experienced executive, putting together a good CV can be quite a challenge, let alone crafting an adequate suitability statement.
Even if you have perfected your CV, which details your previous experience and the skills that you have acquired throughout your career, you still need to showcase potential employers how you have developed your expertise. This is where the suitability statement comes in. Not only will it enhance your profile and emphasise your skills, but it will highlight your professional capabilities.
To help you write your very own statement and land your next dream job, we've put together a brief guide, complete with tips and examples.
What is a suitability statement?
A suitability statement, or personal statement, is used to depict the reasons you believe yourself to be a suitable candidate for a job role. Much like a cover letter, a suitability statement should outline your skills, experience and the reasons why an employer should hire you.
This is an essential part of the job application process since it will highlight the characteristics and qualities that make you stand out from the crowd.
When submitting a job application, you can attach your suitability statement as a separate item. Alternatively, it may be presented with your CV or résumé when applying for an employment opportunity.
How long should a suitability statement be?
Much like your résumé, the suitability statement should be short, concise, and to the point to grab the attention of the reader. The general criterion is 75 to 150 words.
In an eye-tracking study conducted in 2012, The Ladders revealed that a recruiter spends an average of six seconds, absorbing key résumé details.
So, as a job seeker, how can your suitability statement make an impact on a busy recruiter? The answer is pretty simple: kindle their interest by detailing what you can bring to the table - the distinctive qualities, or je ne sais quoi, that other candidates lack.
How to structure a suitability statement
There are several ways to structure your suitability statement. Like the skills section in your CV, this can be presented in a bullet-point format, a simple paragraph, or with your experience listed in separate headings followed by small paragraphs. Although recruiters have different preferences, we recommend using the paragraph format. This enables you to outline your key offerings and write about how your experience meets the requirements of the position that you are applying for.
Since all candidates are different, it could be wise to present your statement in your way. However, by using a paragraph format, you can detail your previous experience and the tasks you have completed, your key achievements, the skills you have gained, and the impact you have made.
You may also choose to list your main offerings in bullet point format which can be effective since they are often concise, straight to the point, and easily digestible.
Whichever option you go for, it is important to detail how and when you gained your experience, when you learned and applied your primary skills, and the outcome.
How to write a suitability statement
1. Research the company
Before writing your suitability statement, you must research your prospective employer to obtain information on the company's culture and values. That way, you can get a better understanding of how you can fit into the organisation.
You probably already know that you should tailor your CV for each role; Suitability statements are no different. So, since you need to modify the statement towards the position you are applying for, it is crucial to read through the job description thoroughly and identify the key requirements. That way, you can give an example of how you have executed the tasks and yielded positive outcomes.
2. Highlight relevant skills and experience
Once you have conducted adequate research into your prospective employer, use this information to highlight your relevant skills and experience and align them with the company's goals. Remember, to grab the reader's interest from the get-go, your opening statement must be gripping.
It's essential to highlight your relevant skills and experience in a way that indicates how they relate to the job description and candidate profile specifications. As you want to make an immediate impression, consider highlighting prior accomplishments and responsibilities.
Consider the following point: 'I managed software development and upgrades.' Now take a look at this point 'As a lead software developer, I oversaw the development and upgrade of 12 software programmes which automated processes and inspired a cost-saving of £30k'. Which is more compelling? Exactly!
By highlighting your skills and experience in this way, you are demonstrating to your prospective employer that you, not only match the job requirements, but you are capable of adding value to the company.
3. Get personal
This is your chance to state your suitability for a role. Do not be humble here. You need to sell yourself and a generic statement won't make the cut. Yes, you may be a team player, and you might be great at taking initiative, but these are cliché phrases that carry little meaning for employers. Such expressions will not make you stand out from the crowd.
Employers want candidates to take a proactive approach in their statements. Therefore, it's important to consider your achievements and how you have made a difference in previous roles. If the last restaurant you managed received a five-star rating from food critics or a 100% review score on TripAdvisor, that is great, but what was your role in those achievements? Be sure to include this. You need to demonstrate that you are the best candidate for the job.
Suitability statement example
I am an intuitive and analytical Risk Management professional acclaimed for identifying operational risks and managing and mitigating financial crime risks and controls across international borders. Experienced in risk assessments and reviews, I have managed financial crime across 23 European countries and inspired cost savings of over £7 million.
With a strong focus on the implementation and deployment of action plans, I have mitigated numerous risk issues. I am a strong communicator and leader, skilled in building and leveraging networks with key stakeholders and multidisciplinary teams. Additionally, I have adept knowledge of anti-money laundering and due diligence procedures in addition to a substantial commitment to complying with appropriate legislation and codes of practice.
Putting together a suitability statement is not an easy task. Whether you are writing it from scratch or starting with a generic template, it is vital to amend your statement for it to reflect the requirements of the position which you are applying for.
Don't forget to proofread the final draft of your statement! You don't want to spend time writing the perfect blurb only to be rejected because of a small spelling mistake. The same applies to format issues. Be consistent! It won't appear very professional if the font changes halfway through.
Have you ever had to submit a suitability statement? Maybe you have a specific way of writing one? Let us know in the comments below.
This article is an updated version of an earlier article originally published in January 2015.