What Makes a Great Candidate Statement?

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Resumes, curriculum vitae (CV) and application forms are just lists of data. What makes you shine brighter than others in an application is your candidate statement. Whether you are applying for school, college, a job or to elected office, a truly great candidate statement is a sales pitch that not only refers to your strengths, but also to what you can do for your target audience. Strike a balance between self-promotion and humility, between offering too much and offering too little. Most of all, say what your target audience wants to hear.

Focus

  • The focused statement will ask itself what the recipient wants and focus on that as much as possible; it will get straight to the point. This means focusing on applicable strengths and on what the position requires. For example, if you are running to be student union president, your statement will be focused on that role, the university/college and the needs of the students. The candidate statement will demonstrate that the company, school or elected office has been thoroughly researched. Even if a great statement seems relaxed and folksy, keep it focused on its objective.

The Sell

  • Strike a balance when demonstrating your personality and your achievements. A good candidate statement will not list each one in turn, but will link each achievement or personal interest with an aspect of what the company/position/school needs. By linking their needs with your skills, you demonstrate you are fit for the job, school or position. You will also reassure them that you have the experience to do it. Only make selling points of skills you are confident of demonstrating. Be objective and specific, not egotistical and lecturing.

Collaborative and Inclusive

  • Collaboration and inclusion are positive points in a candidate’s statement. For elected offices such as student union president or city mayor, this means playing to a number of bases, bringing people together to maximize the middle-ground vote. For job and school applications, this means demonstrating a team ethic as well as being able to work or study alone. Many companies want to build successful teams and will look to see whether, in your statement, you will be able to fit into their setup.

Good English

  • Check your English for spelling, usage and grammatical mistakes. A good candidate statement must demonstrate good English usage. This means eliminating mistakes. Job and school candidate statements also tend to keep the use of the personal pronoun "I" to a minimum. However, when running for office “I” and “you” become important words. Do not use third person; it is OK for stories and profiles, but it sounds pretentious in a candidate statement. This is also not a time to demonstrate your colorful use of slang or to invent words.

Presentation

  • Your candidate statement must be well-structured and well-presented. If your are printing it, make sure the paper is in good condition and that your resume or other documents use the same type of paper. Sign it in black or blue ink. Put your name and address at the top, then that of the school or employer (election candidate statements do not require this). The first paragraph concerns why you are applying, the middle paragraphs on why you are qualified and what you offer and the final paragraph is a summary referring to a CV/resume or other documents such as an application form.

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