How to write the personal profile section of your CV

In this post I’d like to share something particularly valuable: How to write the all-important first section of your CV. You may be asking ‘Does my CV need to begin with a profile section?’ My answer is ‘Absolutely, yes’. Why? Because there is no type of CV or person or situation for which a well-written profile paragraph won’t improve the effectiveness of the impression that you give.

The key things to consider for CV (or any other) personal profile writing are:

Sell yourself

(Although it’s a horrendous cliché, this one is true). But sell yourself effectively. That is to say, no baseless claims or pointless waffle, but instead useful and compelling and well justified content.

Even if your experience speaks for itself and is hugely impressive, you need to tell the reader why you, personally are worth choosing over someone else with similar experience. Or if your experience is completely unique and unmatchable, you still have to explain why you as a person fit well with their needs and with their organisation.

Write in the first person (‘I’ …. Although you don’t need to constantly use the word ‘I’) because the reader knows it is from you, so to appear otherwise just looks weird.

Cover everything

Like a cover letter, your summary needs to tell the reader why they should pick you and give brief justification. The rest of the CV provides full evidence of the same.

Of course, for guidance on what the employer is looking for, the person specification is the ideal place to start. If this has not been produced, then the advert and / or job description will give an indication. If you have all of these things then my approach is to start with the person spec and then check the others for any additional clues. A well-written person spec will cover everything, but the other documents can provide useful context.

Don’t label it ‘Personal profile’

How will this title improve the effectiveness of the impression the reader gets? If it won’t then it doesn’t need to be there. It’s a total waste of space. Also, there is a risk that the reader could assume that a ‘personal profile’ is just the generic fluff that they can skip over to get to the main part. Of course some ‘profiles’ are as vacuous as this. But yours won’t be. So skip the heading and just write a persuasive paragraph summarising why you should be chosen.

Don’t load it with adjectives

Hard-working. Reliable. Honest. Trustworthy. Team-worker. Self-starter (which means what?). Communicative. Organised. Efficient. Resourceful. Punctual.

They mean absolutely nothing unless you give the reader a reason to believe that you are one or more of these things. So, cut down the number of adjectives and instead write in normal sentences giving evidence to back these things up.

Be a well-rounded person

Outline relevant skills, experiences, knowledge and personal qualities, briefly mentioning examples (which are elaborated on elsewhere in the CV). Write it using the kind of terminology that they use. This shows that you are in the same industry and have similar background to them, or if not, at least you have a shared understanding.

I’m not a big fan of hobbies on a CV but there is a place for them if they are relevant and if they are justified. For example, if they show commitment to something. If you are a Karate Black Belt then you have clearly had to work towards this over a period of time. Or it may show a particular way of thinking and planning (Chess champion?) or that you are willing to try new things when necessary (e.g. you jumped out of a plane for charity).

One last thing …. Why not write the profile section last after you have had time to list all of your attributes and think through your entire offering, considering which ones are most fundamental? I tend to write a few notes on the profile straight away but then come back to it and write it in full at the end, when my mind is full of the necessary evidence.

See more about how to write a CV

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CV Writer and Interview Coach. Blogging about ways to improve your CV writing and job searching experience.