Writing well

Is your writing as good as it can be ? – 5 top tips for making your personal statement pop to the top of the pile


When writing personal statements, cover letters and online applications, it’s easy to assume that the reader will pick up and understand what you mean. But busy graduate recruiters, who have hundreds of applications to get through, don’t have the time to guess your inner thoughts and untangle complicated sentences. Worse still, they will reject applications that are poorly written and contain typos. So here are 5 tips for making sure your application is clear, punchy, error-free and pops to the top.


graduate recruitment experts, interview advantage, self presentation, career progression tips and techniques


Arrest the reader and make it personal.

Say something intriguing about yourself. Be authentic by writing from the heart. Use examples and stories to illustrate what really makes you tick. Imagine reading a cover letter from a street magician with a degree in astrophysics and a knack for connecting with people, illustrated by a touching personal anecdote. Then imagine an application whose opening line tells you that the candidate has always been passionate about joining such a vibrant profession, and that they genuinely feel privileged to be applying to your firm which has such an outstanding reputation and word-wide renown. Who would you pick ?


Walk through what you write wearing the reader’s shoes.

Ask yourself whether the reader can follow your intended meaning without having to read the sentence several times, or guess at your thinking.  Are the lines of reasoning clear, and does it flow logically? Write as if you were painting a Vermeer, not a Rothko.

Girl with the Pearl EaringRothko









Speak your thoughts aloud before committing them to the screen.

You may find it surprising how half formed or jumbled some thoughts can be when you put them to this test. It’ll help you structure and clarify what you mean.


Proof read again and again.

Employers will reject an application if there is a single typo, grammatical error or obscure sentence.

Proof read four times :

  • once for meaning
  • a second time for typos
  • third time for economy and style, as if your prose will be read aloud in front of a jury or a group or your peers
  • last time as if you were asked at interview to explain exactly what you mean. Will your explanation be crisp and credible?


Use plain language and short sentences.

Particularly when applying to law firms, remember that lawyers are drafting geeks and believe that economy of language is the bedrock of clarity. The rule of thumb is that if you can express a thought in fewer or plainer words, do so. And avoid too much lyrical or poetic language. The chances are that everyone else is using the same words as you and graduate recruiters very quickly develop an aversion to them.


Contact us to arrange a one-to-one session focused on your personal statement, CV or job application. We’ll make sure it is tailored to bring out your greatest achievements and strengths.