Do the Same Rules Apply for Fellowship as for Residency?
The answer is yes, though following the same rules naturally leads to differences.
Generally speaking, the personal statement should/could touch on the following items:
The first time the applicant realized his or her interest in the particular field or specialty;
Times since then when that interest was refined, reinforced or redirected;
Any particular outstanding accomplishments achieved so far in following that path;
The direction the applicant now sees himself or herself taking; and
If possible, how the program would be a particular match for that direction.
What Should These Items Accomplish?
Each of these items should elucidate a particular quality or particular qualities about the applicant, and should be ones that are particular to the applicant, as opposed to being able to be said generically by anyone applying for the program. This is important.
What Are the Similarities?
Both the fellowship personal statement and the residency personal statement should describe the specific path/specific reasons that has/have led to the decision to apply for the desired position, as well as what the candidate hopes to achieve through the position from the point of view of how the candidate anticipates it will edify his or her future career.
What Are the Differences?
Answering these questions is where the differences lie between the fellowship personal statement and the residency personal statement.
For the residency personal statement, the general format is to describe the candidate's initial interest in medicine and how that was shaped into a desire for the particular field (e.g., internal medicine) being applied for. This is fleshed out with details that are relevant to the candidate's pursuit of the program (e.g., research experience, community involvement), and it is directed toward a view of the future career.
The fellowship personal statement should take this a step further by demonstrating both the personal and professional maturity that comes with having already completed significant training in the candidate's field.
How Does a Resident Applicant See His/Her Future Career?
Because candidates for residency are writing the personal statement for residency before having begun the training, it is often difficult for them to have a precise view of what they want in their future careers. While he or she may already have some inclinations of what his or her future career will be, many of those choices will be made through the course of the residency.
How Should a Fellowship Applicant See His/Her Future Career?
When it comes to applying for a fellowship, the candidate should know precisely what he or she anticipates for his or her future career, and how the fellowship training (and often the fellowship training offered at the particular institution receiving the application) is the necessary next step in that direction. The candidate should have a clear idea of who he or she is as a doctor and the specific path he or she sees his or her career taking.
The focus in the fellowship personal statement is therefore centered less on the part of the candidate's path that came before residency (e.g., original interest in medicine) and more on specific experiences that have come during residency (e.g., particular cases of interest, particular research accomplishments or involvement) or after.
What Should Be the Focus of the Anecdotes?
The anecdotes should demonstrate relevant academic and clinical competence. They should point squarely in the direction of the specialty being applied for, and any particular research interests.
How long should my personal statement be?
Generally speaking, a fully developed personal statement will be approximately 750. Some programs (e.g. dentistry), though, may require shorter word counts. With few exceptions, if your personal statement is over 850 words, it is too long. If it is under 650 words, it is too short.
The Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS®) allows up to 28,000 characters with spaces, which is approximately 5,200 words. However, no program director will read a personal statement that long. Most won't even read any of it.
What do you mean by "be specific"?
First is to be specific to your story. If everyone else writes it in their personal statements, then you should not, unless it is particularly relevant to you.
An example of this is an IMG who writes, without any obvious reason for doing so, that she wants to pursue residency in the United States because the U.S. is at the forefront of medicine. A second example is a candidate who writes that he wants to pursue residency in a program that will give him the knowledge and training he will need to succeed in his chosen field. These are both vague statements that should be included only if they relate specifically to your personal career path.
Second is is a rephrasing of the first: to write only of your particular experience. This is your greatest strength and what will set you apart. If you write that you want to pursue a career in medicine in order to serve the community, we will ask what kind of community and what way do you see yourself serving. We will ask where this desire has come from and how you have pursued it.
If you write that you want to be a leader, we will ask where you want to be a leader, why you want to be a leader, what kind of leader you want to be, and in what way specifically you plan to lead others.
What are the most common mistakes that you have seen?
I want to "hook" the reader. What is the best way to do that?
Start with a simple, straightforward statement with how you started on the path that you are on. An example of this is: "The first time I saw how medicine can help people was when I was five years old and visited my mother in the hospital."
Second is to write of your particular experience. This is your greatest strength and what will set you apart.
I am having trouble getting started. Can you help me write my personal statement?
Absolutely, but we won't write it for you. For those needing assistance with developing a personal statement, we offer our Personal Statement Consultation service. With it, we will review your resume/CV if provided and, in one-on-one consultation with one of our personal statement editors, guide you through a series of questions and feedback to develop a concise plan for drafting your personal statement.
After you have drafted your personal statement, we will then review your personal statement with our Personal Statement Revision & Critique service for any adjustments needed to make it as polished and successful as possible.
I have followed all your advice. Do I still need to have my personal statement edited?
Yes, you should still have it edited, specifically for feedback/critique (see our Personal Statement Revision and Critique service) regarding how successful you are in communicating your points. It is our opportunity to help make what you have started as successful for you as possible.
Get More Advice on Our Blog
For more advice on personal statements, see the personal statement articles we have posted on our blog.
Sample Personal Statement
and Palliative Care
Sample Personal Statement
IMG with Leave of Absence
“You helped me edit my personal statement for my fellowship application a few months ago. Today I am writing to happily tell you that I have matched at one of the best programs in the U.S. I received many interviews from great programs, and almost all the interviewers mentioned that my personal statement was well-written and very interesting. I am very grateful for your wonderful work editing my personal statement and would like to express my sincere appreciation."
Taki U., New York, NY
“When I came to DLA for help with my personal statement, the application period had already opened, and I knew I was behind. I signed up for the consultation service and cannot be happier with the results. I just had an interview, and the interviewer said my personal statement was one of the best she had ever read, that it clearly presented who I was and the journey I have been on to reach this point. Hearing that made it totally worth the cost!”
Alessandra B., Biddeford, ME
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How to Write a Personal Statement for Job Searching
What's a personal statement, and why do you need one when you're job searching? A job search personal statement is a place to share why you're interested in a position and why you're a good match. In your statement, you can get a bit personal — use the space to share details and insights about yourself, and forge a connection with potential employers.
Read on for more information on how to write a successful personal statement that will further your job search.
Different Types of Personal Statements
A personal statement may be included within your curriculum vitae or CV. Much like an in-person elevator speech or the summary section within a resume, a CV personal statement highlights your objectives and abilities. Since a CV may stretch over several pages, this allows you to showcase must-see details from within the document. You'll want to write just a few sentences for a personal statement in a CV.
Or, you may need to write a personal statement as part of a job application. This helps hiring managers separate out candidates applying for every job in a category (e.g., putting in applications for any "production manager" position) from more engaged candidates, who are interested in the company. Write something that matches the application's requested word count; if one isn't provided, aim for 250 to 500 words.
Regardless of where it appears, your goal in a personal statement is the same: try to connect your background and goals with the job at hand.
What Should You Include?
In your personal statement, you want to make a connection between yourself and the position. Think of this as a three-part process:
- Share some details about yourself. Who are you? You may say things like "Highly seasoned production manager" or "Recent graduate with honors."
- Highlight your most relevant experience and talents and share what you'd bring to the company. Think: "Strong, speedy writer capable of crafting ad copy that engages and enchants." or "In my years as a project manager, I've never let a detail slip; I've won internal awards for best team player. My projects release on time, and match requested specifications."
- Provide a bit of information on your career goals. For instance, "Looking for a staff writer position" or "Eager for placement in a mid-sized firm as an audit supervisor" or "Seeking a position as a production assistant to further develop my skills in television and put my time management abilities to the test."
While it's called a personal statement, avoid over-sharing. Only include information that's relevant to the job at hand. That is, if you're applying for a position as an accountant, no need to mention your goal of becoming a staff writer at a magazine.
Remember, the main goal for your personal statement is for it to further your job search.
Tips for Writing a Job Search Personal Statement
Your personal statement should always be personalized — it's a mistake to reuse the same personal statement for every job you apply for. You don't need to write the personal statement from scratch each time — just make tweaks so it reflects the needs of the company and the qualities requested in the job description.
Here are more tips for writing a successful job search personal statement:
Know your audience: Target your personal statement to a specific job position and company. Spend a bit of time researching the company to get a sense of what they're looking for in a candidate.
Decode the job description so you understand the company needs in a candidate. Take notes on where your qualifications are a good match for the position.
Make some lists: What have you done that employers should know about? Make a list of your accomplishments (and keep in mind that while splashy awards are important, so too is reorganizing a chaotic system that gives everyone hives to make it user-friendly). Brainstorm a list of your talents as well as your soft, communication, and general skills.
Go long on your first draft—then cut it down: Hopefully, your time spent thinking about the company needs and what you have to offer has given you plenty of fodder to get started writing your personal statement. At this point, don't worry about length; write as much you want. Then, go back and edit—aim for a few sentences for a CV, and around 250 to 500 words in an application.
Cut unnecessary words and clichés that don't add meaning. Instead, use action verbs. While it's fine to write in the first person, avoid overusing the word "I." Try to vary the composition of sentences.
Make it targeted: You have lots of skills and interests and work experience. What you want to emphasize in one position is not necessarily what you want to highlight in another. If you are qualified as both a writer and an editor, choose which talent to call out in your personal statement—and make it the one that's most relevant to the job you want.
Examples of Personal Statements
Here are some examples of personal statements to use as inspiration:
- I'm a seasoned accountant with CPA and CMA certification and more than 10 years of experience working in large firms. Oversaw audits and a department of ten. My positive attitude and detail-oriented spirit helps ensure that month-end financial wrap-ups go smoothly and without any inaccuracies or fire drills. Looking for a leadership role in my next position.
- Recent college graduate with freelance writing experience at major print magazines as well as online outlets and the college newspaper. A strong writer, who always meets deadlines, and matches the company tone and voice. In search of a staff writer position and eager to learn the magazine trade from the ground up.
- I'm an award-winning designer in children's clothes looking to make the transition to adult athletic year. At Company X, I developed a new line for toddlers and traveled to Asia to oversee production. I'm a fast learner and am eager for a new challenge in the growing field of athleisure.