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Career advice for job seekers

Write a stellar personal profile on your CV 13/03/2014

CV writing is a chore for many, and often candidates simply add to previous templates that served them well in the past. If you're looking for a new role, you need to approach your CV in a fresh way. One area in particular is the traditional first section ‘personal profile’.

Write a stellar personal profile on your CV

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  1. Does your CV impress straight away?
  2. An example Personal Profile
  3. Suggested changes - keep it snappy
  4. Bold, attention-grabbing phrases
  5. Make your CV stand out with a great profile
  6. Related articles

Does your CV impress straight away?

If we look at the CV as your ‘advertisement’, the advert needs a strap-line; a hook that appeals and makes the reader want to read more. The Personal Profile is the perfect place for this, but so many candidates fail to impress straight away.

A recruiter, on first sift will probably give the front page of your CV no more than a 15 second scan. Can they immediately pick out relevant, differentiating and quality aspects that they are looking for? If yes, they’ll read on, if no – well, you know what happens.

An example Personal Profile

What impression do you get from the following typical Personal Profile?

Fifteen years' HR operations manager level experience in various organisations, with a mix of strategic and operational experience. I am a friendly and honest proactive person, who is adaptable and conscientious. Being a good communicator contributes to my ability to problem solve and I am an effective team player but also a person who can work effectively as an individual.  I am able to multi task and work well under pressure and I am willing to work hard to accomplish tight deadlines.

My opinion is that it is flawed in a number of ways:

  1. Recruiters are unlikely to take the time to read this block of text.
  2. It doesn’t really say anything of value – nothing stands out.
  3. It says the same as so many other profiles.
  4. It really isn’t well written.

Suggested changes - keep it snappy

Well, we live in a world of sound bites and Tweets and people want information that is quick and easy to grasp. Read the profile above, then look away and say what you took from it. I guarantee you’d only remember odd phrases like ‘friendly and honest’; ‘team player’ etc. If this is the way our brains are wired, shouldn’t we be presenting the information in this way?

In my view the CV Personal Profile should be a set of short phrases that highlight what your strengths are and show that these relate to the brief. Ideally they should be tabulated with white space around so they can be picked up immediately when a reader scans the page.

It is inevitable that we will use some of the classic phrases i.e. ‘customer focused’, because job descriptions are full of these competencies, so if we are to highlight that we meet the spec, we do need to play some of them back. But do try to phrase them slightly differently.

Bold, attention-grabbing phrases

  • Influential and inclusive leader
  • Astute commercial acumen
  • Proven Board level influencer
  • Engaging and clear communicator
  • Consultative style of client management
  • Driven by quality and integrity
  • Inquisitive, analytical and decisive

There are two immediate advantages to this format: Firstly you are highlighting, very simply, your strengths against the brief. This will get you noticed.

Secondly if you want to re-order or amend the strengths then it is a short and simple process rather than re-crafting a whole paragraph of prose.

Make your CV stand out with a great profile

The intention is to make your strengths jump off the page so that the reader immediately engages with the content. From all my years of reading CVs and advising on them, this is the most successful way of conveying your personal profile in a strengths format. If you can do this, you will be one further step ahead of the competition.

Paul Deeprose, career coach and managing director of The Career Gym

Paul Deeprose, career coach and managing director of The Career Gym

Paul has over 15 years experience of being an HR practitioner, HR Recruiter and HR Career Coach. The Career Gym partners HR and other professionals to generate true career development and success.