This week, we are running our #GetAhead webinars; I am just finishing writing the CV's and Applications talk and found myself in a debate with colleagues over personal profiles on CV's.
Career profiles, personal profiles, career objective, personal statement - are all variations on the same theme, if you google CV tips you'll comer across as many CV's with as you will without personal profiles. The million dollar question is "do you need one?" A quick poll in the office split the vote: some of the team swear by them and others don't (I sit in this category). No wonder students are confused with all this contradictory information.
So, how do you decide whether you should have one?
Firstly, the purpose of a CV, is to grab the attention of the reader and get them interested in knowing more about you. The CV by itself won’t lead to a job offer or a place on a postgraduate course, but it may well be the deciding factor in whether you are shortlisted for an interview. Think about a film trailer. The whole point is to grab your attention enough to make you buy a ticket and watch the whole film. There are good and bad film trailers; some pretty much leave you feeling like you've seen the movie already. Therefore, you need to take the same approach with designing your CV. What can you tell the reader that'll grab their interest and make them want to read the rest of your CV. You don't want to give it all away either...! It is a fine balancing act.
Career profiles, personal profiles, career objective, personal statement... will be the first thing and employer reads about you. They'll form a judgement or two, so if you are going to include one; make sure it is having the right impact. There is also a distinction between a personal profile and a career objective. A personal profile highlights your current situation, skills and unique selling points (USP). A career objective describes the type of job you’re looking for, and where. University of Warwick careers provide useful examples:
Computer science graduate seeking challenging position in software development company to fully utilise my Java programming skills and confidence with concurrency and multi-threading.
A highly motivated computer science graduate with a first class degree, experience in Java and award winning undergraduate dissertation.
In practice, often the two often merge to create a hybrid statement, along the lines of:
Highly motivated and enthusiastic graduate, with an excellent academic credentials including first class degree. Looking for a graduate position, where my Java programming knowledge and strong problem solving skills can be fully utilised.
I will let you judge whether the above make an impactful first impression or not. BUT, If you are going to add a profile, do consider these tips:
- Avoid a bland statement awash with a collection of vague adjectives and buzzwords.
- Tailor your profile for each employer and role, highlighting those areas of experience most relevant to the specific job and ensuring your career aspirations exactly match the role on offer
- Do a blind test - would your personal statement apply to 10 other people? If yes, then re-write it. Think what makes you unique.
- Read your statement aloud and apply the ‘so what’ test? If your intended audience could respond with a ‘so what’, the chances are they will.
Now to answer the question, personal profiles on CVs - Yes or a No, No?
My personal view is; that it is very difficult for a student or recent graduate to offer the range of experience and knowledge that transforms a bland, generic statement into an impressive, eye catching profile. I usually advice against unless you are changing careers or have significant experience in the field you are considering. I would be interested to hear the views of our readers, so do please comment.