Whether you are a recent graduate or an experienced executive, putting together a good résumé can be quite a challenge, let alone crafting an adequate suitability statement.
Even if you have perfected your résumé, 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 emphasize 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 jobseeker, 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 résumé, 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
The suitability statement writing process can be a challenge due to the limited word count. You may be wondering what things you should include and what things you should leave out. In order to identify what’s important and what isn’t, you must first understand who you’re addressing and what the job actually entails.
Before you write a suitability statement, remember to start with some reading. Once you’ve done that, follow it up with a bit of storytelling. Read our how-to below!
Step 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 organization.
You probably already know that you should tailor your résumé 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.
Step 2: Highlight relevant skills and experience
Once you have conducted adequate research into your prospective employer, use this information to highlight your relevant professional 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 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.
Step 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.
Tips for writing a suitability statement
While some people are better at written communication than others, hiring managers hardly expect candidates to be masterful wordsmiths. Besides, even those who have a way with words are often repelled by the idea of selling themselves.
No matter which of those categories you fall into, we’ve compiled a list of handy tips to help you get started with confidence when writing your statement.
1. Use proper sentences
Though you’re supposed to condense your past experiences, skills, and passion for what you do into a few sentences, you still have to make sure they are grammatically correct. This means including a subject, a verb, and an object. Let’s look at the following example:
“I am a hard-working TV production floor manager. I have experience supervising and dealing with last-minute technical problems. Also working closely with the director.”
Everyone knows that “supervising” refers to crew members and not “problems”, but the way it’s written creates ambiguity. Each verb (“supervising” and “dealing”) needs to have its own subject (in this case, “crew” and “problems”). The final sentence has a verb and a subject, but no object at all.
To be concise, you must cut out fluffy words, not vital sentence structure components!
2. Divide it into sections
Before you start writing, note down the following suitability statement elements and tick them off one by one. This will help you ensure that you’re not wasting precious characters repeating yourself, and that you don’t omit any important information.
Your statement should mention the following:
- Your area of expertise
- Your number of years of experience
- Your professional achievements
- Any relevant skills, qualities, and qualifications
- Your immediate career aspirations
3. Convey confidence and enthusiasm
We all experience self-doubt from time to time. When writing your personal statement, however, try to maintain a positive, can-do attitude. Once you give yourself a pep talk (science says it works in combatting stress!), it’ll be easier to bring your best personal qualities to mind.
Words like “adaptable” and “proactive” can show hiring managers that you take your job seriously. Backing this up with examples of how your efforts have been fruitful in the past will also make you sound trustworthy.
If you’re feeling unsure due to a lack of relevant experience, focus on how your skills can be transferred between jobs. For example, the ability to communicate clearly and manage your time can be useful in any setting, whether applying for a civil service job or to become a veterinary assistant.
4. Avoid ending it abruptly
You want to wrap up your suitability statement on a striking note. To do this, dedicate your last sentence to summarizing your key skills or mentioning some of your near-future goals. If you’re planning on doing the latter, make sure you tie it in with the job description. For example, you could state how eager you are to take on a new challenge that will allow you to enhance your technical skills.
Your conclusion should affirm your confidence, commitment, and ambition as a professional, and show your prospective employer just how much of a benefit you could be to them.
5. Check for errors
Misspelling the word “professional” (which is a very common mistake, by the way!) is ironic to say the least. Not only that, it can seriously harm your chances of being considered for the position.
A study involving over 500 professional recruiters has shown that spelling errors in your résumé can have just as negative an impact as the lack of work experience. So, to keep your application from ending up in the discard pile, you need to really polish it.
Once you’ve closely examined your statement, we recommend handing it over to a friend, too. A second pair of eyes can really help in catching those evasive little errors.
Suitability statement example
Once you’ve done your company research, reread the job listing, and outlined the points you’d like to make, it’s time to start writing! Keeping the following example in front of you can simplify the process of structuring your own suitability statement:
“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.
Originally published 24 March 2020. Updated by Electra Michaelidou.