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The Difference between an Essay and a Personal Statement

If you're the type of person who never misses a chance to brag, a personal statement is right up your alley. While a personal narrative essay may tell a writer's story, too much bragging in a personal essay will most likely be frowned upon.


Essay vs. Personal Statement

The purpose of any essay, no matter what type, is to inform. Essay writers study a topic, compile research that backs the point they've decided to make and then present that point to readers. An introduction paragraph lays out the essay writer's focus, an average of three or more body paragraphs explain the writer's point in more detail, and a conclusion paragraph sums up the essay.

The purpose of a personal statement is to let a potential employer know how great you are and everything you've accomplished prior to applying for an employment position. Academic achievements, awards, community or national service performed, and prior recognized work in a particular field are all parts of a good personal statement.


The audience for an essay will be readers looking for information on a certain topic. For instance, someone studying the effects of a hurricane on a community may want to read a narrative essay from someone who survived that hurricane and experienced its aftermath. Someone writing a critical analysis of a piece of literature may search out essays others have written on that piece in order to form opinions about it.

The audience for your personal statement will be potential employers. While those employers are seeking information on a topic, there is only one possible topic: how great you are and what you've accomplished that is relevant information in deciding that you're the best candidate for the job that they could hire.


Writing an essay can be an opportunity to stretch your creative muscles as long as your purpose isn't to write an expository essay, which solely lays out facts without any opinions included. While essays have specific structures, they also allow for critical thought and rely on the writer's ability to elaborate on points to get their point across.

There is little room for creativity in a personal statement. A section of personal reflection can be included to explain what you've learned or what your beliefs are, but for the most part, a personal statement should be limited to your achievements and why they make you a good choice among applicants seeking employment.