Thursday, June 26, 2014

The Cardinal Rule of Biographical Sketch Personal Statements

Although the personal statement section of the biosketch is still relatively new, I believe there is one simple rule that will help to ensure your statement is helpful to your application.  The rule is:
Your personal statement should NOT be a summary of everything that comes after it in the biosketch document.
It may seem intuitive to use the first paragraph on the page to provide an overview of what is to follow.  After all, this is what is expected of you in other sections of the proposal.  However, you are missing a serious opportunity to sell yourself if you only reiterate your degrees and past grant awards.  Reviewers should come away from your personal statement feeling as though they understand you as a scientist - your motivations, the questions that drive your passions, and the expertise you offer that makes you the perfect person for this project.  A list of your degrees will not serve this purpose.  Take a lesson from some of the more aggressive infomercials on television, and sell yourself in a way that is convincing and persuasive.  Here is some inspiration from Pajama Jeans:
If they can sell thousands of pairs of ridiculous looking pajama pants that look like jeans, you can certainly sell yourself as an accomplished and capable scientist.

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