Crafting a Compelling CV Personal Profile: Tips and Examples
A personal profile is your opportunity to set out your stall within seconds. When you first meet a recruiter, they’ll often ask, “Tell me about yourself”.Your CV's personal profile is the paper version of this.
Often regarded as one of the most difficult sections of your CV to prepare, you need to concentrate on extracting evidence from your career that matches the role you’re applying for.
What is a personal profile?
A CV's profile (often referred to as a personal statement or just "introduction") is a few brief lines at the top of your CV providing recruiters with a quick overview of you and your experience without having to read your entire CV. When reading a personal profile, recruiters essentially want to know:
- Who is this candidate?
- What have they done?
- What can they offer us?
Personal Profile Tips
Tweak the personal profile for every job application
The more experience you have, the more this tip applies to you. Use your personal profile to showcase to the recruiter – in just a few lines – why they should contact you. Let’s say, for example, you’re applying for a Marketing Manager role.
Go through the job description with a fine-toothed comb to extract the skills and keywords they use. Then, mention your experience of those areas within your profile – this shows the recruiter what you can and will do if they recruit you (and becomes even more useful when ATS scan your CV).
Avoid overused clichés
If we had a pound for each time we read "hardworking" and "works well in a team" in a CV, we’d be on a tropical island, rather than writing this article. A CV should be used to tell a recruiter what makes you different, so including cliché points will have the opposite effect. Instead, mention skills that promote you as a stand-out candidate. Besides, wouldn’t a recruiter will simply expect every candidate to be “hardworking”?
Avoid the use of pronouns in a profile (and the rest of your CV)
You can write your personal statement in the first person ("I have") or the third person ("he/she has"). However, you do not need to use 'I', 'he' or 'she' in a CV because its use is implied.
Try to start each line with a verb, such as "implemented" and cut out the pronoun ("I"). "Implemented a marketing campaign resulting in…" immediately attracts attention.
90% of personal statements are full of hot air. Avoid trying to overstate your skills and experience – a recruiter will see straight through them. Instead, include facts you’re able to back up. Include how many years’ experience you have and definitely mention figures relating to past achievements (such as sales increases and number of staff you’ve led).
Touch on your future ambitions
Although your CV’s personal profile is primarily needed to highlight what you’re bringing to the table, it’s also worth including a line about your future goals. For example, if you’re returning to the workplace after a career break, mention this. If you’ve recently completed a degree and looking for an entry level role, let the recruiter know.
Follow a consistent structure
As you probably already know, it’s a good idea to tailor your CV towards each role. An easy way of doing this in each personal profile is to follow a core structure, such as:
- Success in…
- Recognised for…
- Proven record for…
We’ve prepared a basic introduction using this structure:
“Sales Director with seven years’ success in fast-paced telecommunications companies. Recognised for expertise creating effective sales strategies and proven record increasing sales by up to 10% in competitive settings.”
Keep the tone natural
Once you’ve prepared the content, read your profile out loud to ensure it reads naturally.
Don't make your personal profile too vague
Be specific about your achievements and skills. Instead of saying you "contributed to sales growth," provide numbers or percentages to demonstrate the impact of your work.
Avoid excessive use of industry-specific jargon.
While it's good to demonstrate industry knowledge, avoid excessive jargon that might not be understood by everyone. Focus on ensuring clarity and simplicity in your personal profile's language.
Example of a CV personal profile
"Results-driven marketing professional with over five years' international experience developing and executing successful digital marketing campaigns for global brands within budgets of up to £10M. Proven track record of driving revenue growth through strategic SEO, SEM, and social media initiatives. Leveraged skills in data analysis and trend analysis to optimise marketing strategies while leading high-performing teams up to 20 staff."
In the above example, the Marketing Manager candidate starts by mentioning their years of experience and their expertise in digital marketing. They then provide specific skills such as SEO, SEM, and data analysis, along with mentioning their ability to drive revenue growth. Finally, they state their career goal, which is to secure a senior marketing role and contribute their skills and experience to the company's success. This profile is tailored to a specific job and showcases the candidate's qualifications and aspirations effectively.
Is a CV profile the same as an objective?
No. Objective sections tend to be found in US-style resumes rather than CVs. However, as I mention further below, touching on your objectives is always a good idea (without including a separate “Objectives” section).
How long should a CV’s personal profile be?
There’s no set rule regarding the length of a personal profile. In general, aim for one paragraph. If your core “story” isn’t conveyed within five or six lines, the chances are it’s too complicated. Aim for 200-300 words as a maximum.
It’s 2023: do you even need a personal profile?
As with everything in a CV, there are no right or wrong answers and every CV writer / recruiter will have their own opinion on what makes a good CV. In my experience, a personal profile is one of the most important aspects of your CV; second only to the achievements within your employment. The majority of recruiters will expect one and find it strange to read a CV without a profile.