What is a CV profile?
Sitting at the top of your CV, under your name, contact details and CV headline, your CV profile could be considered as the executive summary of your professional offering. Its job is to tell the recruiter why they should be interested in you and why they should invite you for an interview to find out more. Your CV profile is one of the first things a recruiter will view on your CV, so getting it right is really important.
What is a CV without a CV profile?
Without a profile outlining your skills, experience and intentions to reflect your preferred career direction, your CV is just a list. It’s a list of the jobs you have performed, the places you have studied, the qualifications you have gained and so on, with no real context to inform your target employer.
What makes a bad CV profile?
Too many profiles are so shockingly generic that they could be describing any kind of person, working in any industry, at any level, in any role. I was recently gobsmacked to read a CxO profile that I could honestly have confused with that of a much more junior candidate. As a litmus test, if you were to ask a close professional contact to read your profile on its own, without the rest of your CV, and they couldn’t tell that it is talking about you, then I’d advise going back to the drawing board.
What information should your CV profile contain?
A punchy and well-written CV profile at the very start of your document will summarise your value proposition in a nutshell – the kind of job you do, the breadth of your experience, key qualifications that will stand you apart from others, the industries you serve, the key skills that you bring and your motivation for applying – these are all things the employer will want to know. They can be wrapped up in five or six sentences at the top of your CV to let the recruiter know that you meet their criteria. Your profile should be able to be read as a standalone piece, giving the recruiter the headlines of your CV in the context of what you want to achieve next.
The following questions from a recruiter’s perspective should be readily answered by your profile:
Who is this CV about? What is the individual’s occupation and background?
Where has this person gained their skills, knowledge and experience?
What are the key skills they can offer?
How does what they offer meet my needs?
Why are they interested in applying for this role?
Why should I call them for an interview?
Your CV profile should leave your reader with no doubts about who you are and what value you can add to the target organisation.
How to get started with writing your CV profile
As a starting point, try the following exercise. Set your CV to one side and sit with a friend or family member, someone you feel confident and comfortable with. Set a five minute limit and describe to your companion the key points that encapsulate the value you can add to your target organisation. Talk from the heart about your experience and skills – you may be surprised at what you come up with. Whatever you say can be refined to serve as your CV profile, allowing you to quickly and clearly sum up what you have to offer.
Insider tip: I write the CV profile last. I feel that I can’t do the profile justice until I have defined and worded the individual’s experience and achievements, key skills and education, giving me an all-round view of who they are, what they have achieved so far and what they have the potential to achieve in the future. If you are writing your own CV, try writing your CV profile last, once you are totally assured of what you are presenting in the rest of your CV.
Keep it simple, stupid (KISS)
Albert Einstein famously said, “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” Use your profile to show you understand what your target organisation needs and how you can provide it, using the KISS principle.
Should your CV profile be written in the first or third person?
Current best practice is to use the ‘smart’ third person. Rather than using the first person, (for example ‘I have delivered business improvement projects for public and private sector organisations’), the smart third person (‘Delivered business improvement projects for public and private sector organisations’) is punchier and more dynamic. Whichever narrative form you choose to use, ensure consistency throughout.
Eight CV profile tips to take away:
1. Your CV profile needs to be well-written
2. It needs to clearly describe the professional you
3. It should demonstrate your unique and relevant offering
4. It needs to indicate how you meet your target employer’s needs
5. It should avoid clichés, such as team player
6. It needs to be sincere and honest
7. You should be comfortable speaking the words, as well as writing them
8. It needs to be simple, concise yet compelling
If you find that you are still unsure about your CV profile after following these tips, then why not send your CV across to firstname.lastname@example.org for a free, no obligation review? These CV reviews are packed with practical tips and advice on how to improve your CV.