How to write the profile section on your CV

In this post, I’d like to provide something that should be extremely valuable to anyone seeking a change of job: How to write the all-important profile section of your CV. You might be thinking ‘Does my CV have to begin with a profile section?’ Absolutely! But why? Well, there is no CV anywhere, for whatever purpose that could not benefit from a well-written profile.

You may hear it referred to as other things, such as a ‘personal profile’ or statement or a summary; but whatever you call it, there are some specific things that this section needs to do.

Sell yourself

Despite being a terrible cliché, this one is true. However, make sure you do it properly. This means no baseless claims or generic waffle. Include useful content that is compelling and well justified. Give specifics to demonstrate your abilities and achievements.

Even if your experience is really impressive, there may be another candidate with very similar experience. It is your job to express why you specifically should be chosen. Alternatively, if your experience is totally individual and can’t be matched, then you still need to explain why you suit their particular needs and their organisation.

Writing in the first person narrative is the most suitable for a CV. It’s written by you and the reader knows it is written by you, so there can’t be any other option. BUT that doesn’t mean you need to constantly use pronouns (‘I’ in this case).

So, actually, if you are not using pronouns, then first person and third person sound the same. But you will probably find yourself needing to write ‘I’ occasionally and that’s fine.

Cover everything

Similar to a cover letter, your summary should explain why the employer should choose you, with your reasons briefly justified. The rest of your CV provides further evidence.

For guidance on what the employer is looking for, the person specification is a great reference. If this has not been provided, then look at the job advert/job description. If you have all of this information then the best thing to do is start with the person spec, referring to the other documents for additional pointers. A thorough person spec will cover all areas the employer is looking for, but the other documents are still useful for adding context.

You don’t need a heading for this section

This title doesn’t enhance your first impression so it doesn’t need to be there. Don’t waste unnecessary space. You’re also running the risk of the reader assuming the ‘personal profile section’ is just generic waffle that they can skim over to get the main body of your CV. This is because some ‘profiles’ are worthy of this treatment. But yours won’t be. So leave out the heading and get straight to the important stuff – a persuasive paragraph effectively communicating why you should be picked.

Don’t overload it with adjectives

Dependable. Hardworking. Loyal. Team-player. Self- starter (which actually means what?) Organised. Punctual. Good communicator. Dynamic. These are all pointless unless you explain how you are one or all of these things. So be scarcer with your adjectives, and write in normal sentences, providing evidence to support your points.

Be a well-rounded person

Describe relevant experiences, skills, knowledge and personal qualities, providing brief examples (which are explained in depth elsewhere in the CV). Use the same kind of terminology as they do, showing that you are in the same industry with a similar background, or at least that you share the same understanding.

Personally, I’m not a huge fan of hobbies on a CV, but if they are relevant and well justified, then they can be included. For instance, if you are a Karate Black Belt then this is something you’ve had to strive for over a long period of time. This emphasises your commitment. Hobbies could also reflect a certain way of thinking and good planning. Are you a Chess champion? Or they may show you’re bravery and that you’re willing to try new things – for example, jumping out of a plane for charity.

One last thing to note … Why not try writing your profile section after you have completed the rest of your CV? Then you can see a list of all your attributes that outline your entire offering. This might help you consider which points are most important. My usual approach is to write a few notes on the profile section at the start but then come back to it at the end and complete it in full. This way the useful evidence is fresh in the mind and you have the full context for what you are writing