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How to Write an Essay about Yourself — The Ultimate Guide

How to Write an Essay about Yourself — The Ultimate Guide

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Of all people in this world, you know yourself best. Nevertheless, writing an essay about yourself is not, and will never be, a walk in the park.

While it is a bit grueling, knowing how to write an essay about yourself effectively can be your ticket to Mars – or more precisely, to your dream job or scholarship somewhere in this world.

So, today, we’ll look into the secret recipes of writing an essay about the self. Examples and explanations are available, too, to make things easier to digest.

Let’s begin with a brief answer.


Writing an essay about yourself

  1. Know your audience
  2. Write for your audience
  3. Stick to one topic
  4. Avoid sensitive topics
  5. Be cohesive
  6. Be personal
  7. Mention relevant people
  8. Proofread your work


How to write an essay about yourself in more detail

Writing is not for everyone. So, no matter how seemingly easy the topic is, like writing about the self, we can’t really say that everyone can do it.

But, on the brighter side, writing is a skill, and thus, it can be learned. Time and effort are the two main ingredients needed to get better at it.

So, to create an essay about yourself, here are eight guidelines that you can refer to and follow to make essay writing less taxing.


1. Know your audience

Knowing your audience allows you to convey your message effectively. Apart from that, it allows you to talk directly to whoever your reader is.

This can be done by doing research in advance. So, if you’re writing an essay about yourself, you need to have some idea as to who will be evaluating your essay.

If you are applying for a job, for instance, you need to bear in mind that one of the Human Resources staff will most likely be your target audience.

All in all, knowing your audience should give you a great avenue for your essay preparation as a whole; this allows you to take control of whatever writing piece you want to focus on.


2. Write for your audience

Apart from knowing your audience, it is needless to say that you have to write for your audience too.

Yes, you will be discussing your life in your essay, but it doesn’t mean that you can’t connect to your audience when doing such a thing.

Writing for your audience basically means looking for a strategy to make your target reader empathize with your story.

In other words, you have to write in such a way that your reader gets too immersed in your work that he or she will be reading until the last word in your conclusion.

Thus, you have to make your story as interesting as possible – just like how prose writers do their job, or at least close to it.


3. Stick to one topic

When writing an essay about yourself, it is advised to focus on one topic. So, instead of writing every relevant experience you’ve had, it is best to stick to one and go in-depth with it.

This allows you to write a richer essay, and at the same time, this would also keep your reader hooked on a particular event in your life.

Writing one too many topics in a single essay is not suggested because it derails your audience from what you really want to convey.

To contextualize, just think of a teacher introducing ten book chapters in a sixty-minute class. Apparently, you are less likely to retain all the information in this scenario.

So, again, think of a single topic that has essentially molded you to become a better version of yourself and just stick to it.


4. Avoid sensitive topics

While you can generally be free as to which topic you’d be writing about, there are certain things that you might want to steer clear of.

Some of these sensitive topics include gender, religion, social taboos, and politics. You should also avoid saying negative things about certain people and their beliefs in your essay.

In case your personal experience has something to do with sensitive issues, the best thing you can do is to focus on how you were able to cope with it.

Again, avoid name-dropping people who may have wronged you before so you won’t get off-topic.


5. Be cohesive

Cohesion or unity is not only important within a nation. It is also a fundamental aspect of writing and any other structured communication activity.

Effectively connecting your ideas by transforming them into readable text allows you to demonstrate your organizational skills to your reader.

Needless to say, you also need to be as coherent or logical as possible when presenting your inner thoughts so that your audience can be in-sync with you.

You can show cohesion by using connective devices such as conjunctions and adverbs or a combination of both, conjunctive adverbs, especially at the beginning of your paragraph or sentence.


6. Be personal

As you are writing an essay about “yourself,” you obviously have to be as personal and warm as possible in your write-up.

Being personal does not mean you have to share your deepest secrets with your reader just to grab their attention and keep them intrigued while reading.

What it means is that you need to present your story in such a way that it characterizes yourself and not anyone else.

The purpose of personal statements and essays about the self is actually for an organization or institution to get to know you as a person.

So, at the end of the day, you had better showcase your human side when writing these kinds of texts.


7. Mention relevant people

While it was mentioned early on that you have to avoid badmouthing others in your essay, it follows that you definitely can praise relevant people in your piece.

Mentioning how others have helped you get through the toughest times in your life bodes well because it shows your grateful side to your reader.

On top of that, it also shows that you are not self-centered and that you actually know how to appreciate others who have helped you along the way.

To do this, you can mention your family members, mentors, classmates, sports coaches, favorite writers, philosophers, and so on.


8. Proofread your work

Last but not least, you have to reread your work and make corrections, if necessary. It is best to do this a day or at least a couple of hours after you finish writing.

Essay writing is not just a five-finger exercise. It takes time to get done, and hence, you’ll get drained of your energy after doing it for hours.

This means that upon reaching your conclusion, you’ll probably not have the same amount of mental energy as much as you had when you started your introductory paragraph.

So, you may not be able to spot superfluous and ambiguous sentences as well as grammatical and typographical errors upon reaching the end of your essay.

Also, you have to remember that even the most seasoned writers are not immune to all kinds of writing errors that can be committed, hence proofreading is a whole different story.

If you can, it would actually be best to ask another person to proofread your essay and ask for feedback from that person.

Now that we’ve discussed the do’s and don’ts when writing a personal essay, let us now see how all these parts fit together.

Here’s an example essay for your reference:


Sample 1: A general essay about yourself 

Young and reckless, I messed up college and gave birth at nineteen. Little did I know that that tiny creature I used to despise would turn me into the strongest version of myself today.


Thinking I got it all figured out, a careless mistake changed my life forever. Back in early 2015, I was confronted with the most challenging problem I had to face – the consistent two red lines on the five pregnancy test tubes I bought for $5.99 at Walmart. “No. This can’t be true,” I thought to myself, so I scheduled a doctor’s appointment a couple of days later just to make sure. As expected, the doctor confirmed that I’ve been cooking a little bun in the oven for five weeks already. Devastated and still in shock, I headed back to my small apartment and blankly stared at the TV screen for hours not knowing how to react.


Fast forward to a couple of weeks later, when I finally had my bearings, I called my mom in Idaho, told her what happened, quit school, and decided to go back home. Mothers really know best, and this isn’t a myth at all. My mom accepted me and helped me get through all the physical, mental, and even social struggles I had back then, notwithstanding her own life problems at that time. Seven months later, I gave birth to the most wonderful purple-ish creature I have ever seen in my entire life – Everett.


My son Everett, who looks more like my mom than me, has taught me so many things I never knew I was capable of – from changing poopy diapers to becoming a moderately-celebrated one-woman band in my hometown, Nampa. Yes, Everett has also made me pursue the only thing I loved but never knew I was good at – music. My son is four years old now, and I’ve been steadily raising him up through being a freelance voice talent during the day and a local musician at night. With this set-up, I have been able to see my son grow day by day without missing a beat.


This entire experience has not only taught me how not to give up on life but also on myself. My mom, most especially, has also contributed a lot to why I decided to keep going despite everything. For that, I owe what I have become today to my beautiful son Everett and to my guiding light, my mom, Evelyn.


How to write an essay about yourself for a scholarship

Writing an essay for a scholarship program more or less shares the same structure as any kind of personal essay out there.

The difference, though, is that you will have to explain the purpose of your essay in the intro paragraph if you won’t be asked for a cover letter for it.

Writing a cover letter for an essay is also not just a cakewalk because it would also require time and effort to get done, just like any other writing piece.

Also, scholarships do not just land on one’s lap. It is something that we have to apply for and do some research about.

If you’re lucky enough and you have the right connections, someone might just be able to introduce scholarship programs to you.

When this happens, you had better prepare a thank you letter for a scholarship that you can give to your scholarship grantor.

So, how exactly should you write an essay about yourself for a scholarship program? Let’s try to find out below.


Writing an essay about yourself for a scholarship

  1. Write your intent
  2. Build the hook
  3. Describe your experience in detail
  4. Provide a climactic event
  5. Reconcile and offer value


1. Write your intent

If a cover letter for your essay is not necessarily asked by the institution or organization you are applying for, it would be best to explain your purpose at the beginning.

This part is important because it is what tells your reader why he or she is holding a piece of paper or staring at his or her screen.

Remember that not all people are good readers, which means not everyone will immediately understand what you are trying to convey.

So, be clear with your purpose or intent in the first paragraph. Clearly, you should also formally introduce yourself in this part.


2. Build the hook

The hook comes after the intent – at least in a scholarship essay that does not necessarily require a cover letter.

The hook is what captures your audience’s attention, so this part is nothing less than crucial too. Think of the hook as something that would tell your audience “Hey, I’m worth reading.”

You can use a rhetorical question or statement here. Or, you can also use a relevant quote or a life lesson that you had learned based on the story you’re writing.

In the example essay a few sections later, you will see that the hook uses a jump-in strategy where it immediately tells you why the essay is more or less worth reading.


3. Describe your experience in detail

As the hook is designed to capture your audience’s attention, they would be asking “why” you wrote it in the back of their minds.

So, the next paragraph should be where your story starts so your reader can build a connection to your hook. 

You can start with the day your story happened or a little before that. You may also want to use visual representations like describing your story’s setting.

The very point of this paragraph is to bring your reader to the day that your story happened. This is done to make them walk through your life or whatever story you are telling.


Provide a climactic event

Like in books and movies, you can also add a climax to your essay. The climax is known to be the highest point or peak of your story.

Here, you might want to be as detailed as possible so that your audience would also feel the tension that you are building.

The use of appropriate descriptive words is simply the key to making this happen. So, write your climax in such a way that your reader will be holding his breath while reading.


4. Reconcile and offer value

After the climax comes the reconciliation part. Here, you would want to write about the most important lesson you have learned from your experience.

This can also serve as the conclusion already. In this part, you will explain how your experience molded you to become better.

You can also mention relevant people in this paragraph, and explain who they are and how they helped you somehow get through life.

To see how all these parts fit together, here’s an example essay for a scholarship application:


Sample 2: Essay for a scholarship application

My name is John D. Smith, a senior high school student at KLM Public High School. I am applying for your college scholarship for the Bachelor of Science in Business Management program. In this essay, you will understand my main motivation for pursuing a college degree at your reputable institution. 


As the ginormous wave came toward me, I felt so thrilled waiting to ride and tame it with my five-year-old surfboard. Little did I know that another ginormous rock was also waiting underneath the waters to change my perspective on life forever.


I have already been surfing for a decent amount of time because I grew up around Laguna Beach, Orange County. So, I thought to myself “This is just going to be another awesome ride.” As the giant wave neared, I patiently paddled toward it and prepared to stand. Four seconds in, I was doing really well, so I gave myself a silent “good job” praise. A few moments later, I suddenly got off-balance and ended up getting rag-dolled by the apparently not-so-harmless wave.


“Stay out of the washing machine,” I suddenly heard my brother’s voice in my head. That was the very first lesson I had to learn the easy way back when I was younger. That wasn’t my first time getting wiped out either, so I was confident I could just survive the first wave. Thinking I got it all under control, I rose to the surface only to see an even larger wave about to crash. It was too late. I had been annihilated by nature once again. But this time, a sharp edged-rock hit the back of my head and caused me to faint and drown. Luckily, another surfer saw what happened and immediately helped me get back to the shore.


Because of the incident, I was hospitalized for a month, and my parents thought I wouldn’t make it. At that time, it would be fitting to say that I hit rock bottom, literally. Had Dylan, my savior, chosen another surfing spot, I would have not been able to write this essay at all. I owe my life to him, to my family, and to the doctors who decided not to give up on me at the end of the day. For the record, the day I had my surfing accident was the same day I decided to quit school because I had mindlessly thought it wouldn’t do me any good. So, when I recovered, I firmly told myself I would do everything not to mess up ever again, especially when education is at stake.


This particular near-death experience of mine has taught me to value the gift of life. Most of all, this has taught me that education is way more important than what I thought I would only be good at — surfing. If I will be given a chance to secure a slot in your scholarship program, rest assured I will make the most out of it to make Dylan and my whole family proud, to say the least.


How to write an essay about yourself for a job application

Meanwhile, job application essays about the self may take just a slightly different approach from that of a scholarship and general one.

An essay about yourself intended for a job application is also known as a cover letter in business correspondence.

You may want to check out our guidelines on how to write a cover letter for an event manager job as a reference or sample.

At other times, essays about the self may also be called a personal statement, such as when applying for teaching-related positions.

Although encompassing a similar intent, a cover letter is different from a personal statement in terms of creativity and level of formality.

When writing an essay about yourself for a job application, the main goal is to “sell” yourself to your potential employer.

It follows that you need to highlight relevant skills and experiences that would tell your reader exactly why you can be a good fit for the role you are applying for.

So, how can we do that? Let’s find out in the next section.


Writing an essay about yourself for a job application

  1. Introduce yourself formally
  2. Show why you are a good candidate
  3. Summarize how you can be an asset


1. Introduce yourself formally

Like in the essay for a scholarship program, the default strategy is to formally introduce yourself to your reader and explain your writing purpose.

This allows your reader to get the hang of why your essay is being laid out in front of them. Put simply, this part should quickly explain the rest of the information that goes right below the intro.

Ideally, two to four sentences should suffice in creating the introduction part of your job application essay.


2. Show why you are a good candidate

“Show” and do not “tell” why you are a good candidate in the body of your essay – this is the golden rule when writing it for a job application.

As you may know, the body comes after the intro. In a five-paragraph essay, the body is composed of paragraphs two, three, and four.

In a three-paragraph essay, which is the structure in the example below, your body is made up only of paragraph number two.

In the example, you will see how the body aims to elaborate on how the applicant got influenced by external factors in applying for the role.

On top of that, you will also see in the body the applicant’s genuine motivation in seeking a particular job. Being as genuine as possible is highly suggested when writing this kind of essay.


3. Summarize how you can be an asset

Lastly, you can summarize your message into three to five sentences. You can do this by focusing on the most important areas that the job may entail.

Do not sell too much on the idea that you are the best among the other applicants because that’s something you should do during the interview.

Instead, the goal you should have in mind when writing this part is, in fact, to prompt the reader to schedule you for an interview.

This means that having a call-to-action prompt towards or at the end of your last paragraph is also highly suggested.


Sample 3: Essay for a job application

To formally introduce myself, my name is Jane D. Smith, a highly interested applicant for the Remote Sourcing Staff position in your company. With my education, training, and experience in virtual recruitment processes, you can rest assured that I can be an effective contributor to the overall development of your remote recruiting system.


Apart from my educational and professional experience as a virtual sourcing associate last year, my interest in this particular role has been mainly influenced by my elder sister. She has been working from the comfort of her apartment for three years now. Before that, she used to live with us in my parents’ house. That particular role actually gave her enough resources to move out and start a life of her own — something I would also want for myself. She used to live with us back when I was still in college, so I had the chance to help her with some tasks from time to time.


This situation gave me an initial exposure to a remote employment setup. Remote employment is the kind of setup I am strongly vying for because of the freedom it offers. Clearly enough, a remote employment setup is not for everyone because it also has its own can of worms. To succeed in this, one must have effective time-management, communication, and organizational skills. However, as I have been exposed to this early on, and I am undoubtedly interested in it too, I believe I can be a good fit for the position you are looking for. I would be glad to share more about what I can offer to your organization in an interview.


How to write an essay about yourself for a job interview

Applying for a role in an organization is one thing, whereas securing an interview from your target organization is another.

If a person or organization wants you to write an essay about yourself before an interview, it means that they want to save time and effort.

Therefore, taking your best shot in the essay writing part is highly advised as this would also allow you to pitch yourself more.

In this kind of intent, you need to elaborate more on your personal side so as to give your interviewer an idea of who you are as a person on top of being a professional.


Writing an essay about yourself for a job interview

  1. Jump to the hook
  2. Build the tension
  3. Explain what you have done 
  4. Mention a relevant person
  5. Show excitement toward the interview
  6. Thank your interviewer for the invitation


1. Jump to the hook

As you are writing an essay about yourself for a job interview, it means that you need not necessarily introduce yourself anymore.

In other words, your interviewer wouldn’t have scheduled you for an interview had he or she not known about your basic information.

So, quickly jump to the hook and grab your reader’s attention. Remember to stay honest and not overdo this part.


2. Build the tension

Tension-building through words is an art. Luckily enough, this idea should not be treated as only limited to movies and novels.

Here, you will explain a problem or challenge that you are most likely facing and convey it through your human side.

Bear in mind that life is not all roses and rainbows, so it’s fine to share some of your struggles in life as a person.

You can show your emotional side in the sincerest manner possible in this part and avoid a showing-off stance.


3. Explain what you have done

After building the tension, you may now start explaining what you have done to try to solve the problem or challenge you explained early on.

In the particular case of job interviews, it would be nice if you could tell a story of how you got to learn to apply for the role you’re vying for.

Perhaps, you can go a little bit deeper into the details of how or why you came across the job posting or how you had an idea about the job opening.

When doing this in an e-mail message, you may want to avoid saying “I came across your job posting” because of how “unintentional” it sounds. 


4. Mention a relevant person

This part is optional. But, if there’s a particular person that has introduced the job opening to you, it would be best to mention that person in this part.

This would demonstrate your good and grateful side to your reader, or perhaps, potential employer, which is definitely what you want to happen.

To do this, you can simply elaborate on how a relevant person helped you out by introducing the job vacancy or maybe even how a certain person encouraged you to take a leap of fate.


5. Show excitement toward the interview

Another proven and tested trick you can incorporate in your essay for a job interview is to show how excited you are for the interview itself.

Remember that your excitement should be directed towards the interview and not the job role yet as you are not yet officially hired.

Showing excitement and humility at the same time is a great recipe for landing your dream job or any other goal in life.


6. Thank your interviewer for the invitation

Finally, a brief paragraph dedicated to thanking your interviewer for setting up an appointment with you should also do the trick.

If you are able to appreciate another person’s role in introducing a job opening to you, you should also not forget to thank your interviewer for taking a chance on you.

So, the conclusion of your essay should bear a grateful and excited tone but already dedicated to the interviewer.

You can see how all these tips and parts fit and flow together in the essay below:


Sample 4: Essay for a job interview

Hopeless and about to give up my writing career goals, I decided to take just one more leap of fate for the last time in an industry I have had zero experience in – comedic journalism. With little money left barely enough to pay my next month’s rent, I was desperate to find a job as soon as possible.


But, I didn’t want to just look for any job – as I have always wanted to become a writer. I also knew right from the start that going back to my parents’ house is never an option, no matter what. So, finding the right balance between what I really wanted to do and what I actually needed to do at that time was one of the hardest decisions I had to make.


With a bit of luck and a lot of desperation, I decided to draft an application for an entry-level writer/researcher role in a start-up media company in New York City. Earlier that night, I bumped into a long-lost friend from Ohio who was the main reason for how and why I got the role I applied for.


My friend Lillia, a single mother of two lovely kids, happened to just move to an apartment located beside XYZ 86.09 – a local radio station. “I’ve read they’re looking for a new research staff or something like that at the station because the last one just quit last week. You should give it a try” – these were more or less the exact words that she said that night.


So, when I got home, I did some research about the radio station, did more about the position, wrote a cover letter together with a resume, and submitted the application online. When I woke up the next morning, an interview invitation was already sitting in my inbox. At that exact moment, all I ever wanted was to do my best in the interview so I could land the job I always knew I’m good at. Interestingly enough, willpower and luck should somehow go together to make things happen.


So, I sincerely thank you for inviting me to an interview at your station this Friday, Miss Levine. I would be more than happy to share and know more about what I can do to contribute to your company through the role I am applying for.


How to write an essay about yourself from a third-person perspective

Writing from a third-person point of view simply requires the use of third-person pronouns. That said, doing so means avoiding the use of first and second-person pronouns.

Third-person pronouns include everything else except “you,” “we,” and “I.” So, these pronouns are made up of “he,” “she,” “it,” and “they.”

Writing in the third-person perspective in academic writing allows the objective and neutral flow of ideas. 

In creative writing, third-person narration allows you to present yourself as a character in your own story. This is good because it makes your ideas less biased and more convincing.

In connection with this, the question of whether we should write a resume from a first-person perspective is asked by quite a lot of people.

The rule of thumb when writing formal texts such as resumes is to religiously avoid the use of “I’s.” Instead, pronouns must be dropped to make the information more factual.

So, how exactly can we write an essay from a third-person point of view? Is that even possible? Let’s check that out below.


Writing an essay about yourself from a third-person perspective

  1. Think of yourself as a book or movie character
  2. Steer clear of “I,” “we,” and “you”
  3. Stick with “he,” “she,” “it,” and “they”


1. Think of yourself as a book or movie character

The first thing to do is to simply think of yourself as a character, probably the protagonist, in a movie or book that you want to write about.

This means that you need to think of yourself as someone else while recalling your own story. Doing this is naturally tricky as you have to distance yourself from, well, yourself.

However, in the example later, you will see how and why writing an essay about yourself in a third-person perspective makes the story more interesting and less opinionated.


2. Steer clear of “I,” “we,” and “you”

The next thing to do is to avoid using the personal pronouns “I,” “we,” and “you.” While “I” and “we” are both in the first person, “you” is used in the second person.

Remember this rule, and you’ll come up with an interesting essay or even a short story about yourself. You may even want to consider becoming a novel writer in the future after doing it.


3. Stick with “he,” “she,” “it,” and “they”

Last but not least, to come up with a nicely-written essay about yourself in third-person POV, remember to only stick with the pronouns “he,” “she,” “it,” and “they” while drafting.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that you cannot use other types of pronouns such as object pronouns, possessive pronouns, and reflexive pronouns that are also in the third person.

You have to treat “he,” “she,” “it,” and “they” as your default reference pronouns only no matter what kind of story angle you want to build on.

To make things clearer, here’s an example essay about the self but written in a third-person point of view:


Sample 5: Essay from a third-person perspective

Barely knowing what he wanted to do in life, it took ten years for Joe to finish college. He somehow blames this on his love for “music” and his “friends.” From choosing to study fine arts to computer engineering, to business management, then, finally, to architecture. Nowadays, he often thinks: He could have already had a Ph.D. had he stuck to one program.


Fast forward to the present, Joe is now a licensed architect in Silver Spring, Montgomery County, Maryland. He built a start-up firm from scratch. Today, this very architectural firm, whose mission is to create and design spaces that are both sustainable and environment-friendly, already has around forty employees. This goes to show that, at least, he managed to quadruple the number of years he spent at school with his current company size.


If you ask him today what made him decide to root for his own success, he could go for hours. If you asked the same question a decade ago, he would just laugh and tell you to talk to another person instead. According to his staff, they could never, ever believe he used to be the black sheep of the family. That exact reaction is what keeps him going these days. It makes him feel like he is on the right path, and for that, he can’t thank all the people he works with enough.


He is also grateful for his parents, especially his mom, who did not give up on him before. Of course, he wouldn’t be able to get to where he is right now without the guidance of his mentors and professors at school. Joe hopes that his story, though not the most ideal, could somehow help those students who are still trying to be the best versions of themselves.


Frequently Asked Questions on “How to Write an Essay About Yourself”


How can I start an essay about myself?

To start writing the first paragraph of an essay about yourself, you can make use of either a formal introduction plus the intent. Or, you can start directly with a hook in the form of rhetorical statements or questions, quotes, or personal life lessons.


How can end an essay about myself?

To end an essay about yourself, you have to reconcile the ideas that you previously introduced. This means you have to summarize the points you presented and write a realization about those. You can make this part more powerful by focusing on other people’s contributions to your improvement rather than talking more about how you did things alone.


What topics can be written in an essay about myself?

Near-death experiences, general life struggles, education, mentorship, ambitions, and weaknesses are some of the most popular topics that can be used when writing an essay about the self.