How to write CV profiles, personal statements, career aims and objectives.
A Career Aim, Personal Statement or Profile can be a useful way of flagging an interest and skills for a particular career on your CV, particularly if you have no relevant degree or work experience to give your CV focus. When profile is used used on this page it can be assumed that personal statement could have been used in its place. A profile is only part of a CV so this section should be read in conjunction with our CV examples.
What do you call it?
My own preferred title is simply:
Is it necessary?
What is the difference between a personal statement and a covering letter?
A profile is a short introduction to your CV, whereas a covering letter is a one page letter going into much more detail about why you are suitable for a specific job and organisation. There will inevitably be some overlap in content, so try to write any similar content using different words (use a thesaurus) and from a slightly different perspective.
Because your profile will be on all your CVs, you normally just mention the particular job sector you are applying for jobs in (e.g. publishing). A covering letter is normally used to apply for a specific advertised vacancy and so will focus on a particular job (e.g. editorial assistant in a particular publishing company). Sometimes you may send out a speculative covering letter with your CV and here the focus will be broad, just like in the profile, as you don't know which jobs might be available.
Covering Letter Content
What if I have no idea of what job I wish to go in to?
In this case it might be better not to include a profile. An unfocused profile is worse than none at all. However, a carefully worded summary of your key strengths and attributes will enhance your CV.
How long should it be and where do you put it?
- No longer than six lines - some sites suggest a maximum of 4 lines. It must be short and positive with your key strengths, skills, experience and interests. It is mean to be an appetiser rather than to give the employer indigestion! The time to elaborate and give evidence for these is later in the CV.
- Place it at the start of the CV. Recently I've seen some CVs with the statement half way through the CV or at the end. This seems to defeat the object, which is to give a concise introduction to your aims and skills.
- Start with a short description: "A highly motivated graduate who has just completed a Law degree at the University of Kent"
- When badly written, they are vague with sweeping generic statements: "I have good teamworking and communication skills" sends selectors to sleep as it appears so regularly.
Use a Thesaurus or see our Skills Map for better words to use!
Learn to use action words to brighten up the content.
- Analyse your core strengths. A profile is a sales tool: a concise summary of why they should take you, so you should include brief details of your major selling points, especially those that are important in the job you are applying to.
- CVs sent to recruitment agencies can benefit from a statement as a covering letter may become detached. Some agencies send you for unsuitable jobs and a career aim can help to prevent this. However the career aim here needs to be fairly broad or you may get submitted for few vacancies.
Buzzwords make you sound like just another faceless candidate, a plastic applicant with no real personality who just cuts and pastes from other people's CVs. According to a survey by LinkedIn here are the top 10 overused buzzwords used in LinkedIn Profiles in the USA in 2010
In other countries extensive experience was most used in the USA, Canada, Australia, dynamic was most common in Brazil, India, Spain, motivated was the most common one in the UK whereas in France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, innovative ruled the roost. For more about this see the LinkedIn Article Stop Using These 16 Terms to Describe Yourself
The 2013 list of overused buzzwords in order were: Responsible, Strategic, Effective, Creative, Innovative, Expert, Positive, Passionate, Driven, Dynamic
THE GOOD ......
14, Wychurch Road, Canterbury, Kent. CT2 7SJ.
Tel. 01227 - 764521 email firstname.lastname@example.org
An adaptable and responsible graduate seeking an entry-level position in public relations which will utilise the organisational and communication skills developed through my involvement with Kent Rag and promotional work during vacations.
During my degree I successfully combined my studies with work and other commitments showing myself to be self-motivated, organised and capable of working under pressure. I have a clear, logical mind with a practical approach to problem solving and a drive to see things through to completion. I enjoy working on my own initiative or in a team. In short, I am reliable, trustworthy, hardworking and eager to learn and have a genuine interest in PR.
Education ........ (CV continues here)
The Profile normally starts straight after the personal details on the CV (these will be missed out in all the other examples to save space. See our CV examples to see how the profile fits in with the rest of the CV.)
Clear career aim and evidence of some involvement in PR related activities whilst at university. This is informative, factual and focused on the job in question and gives information that encourages the reader to delve further into the CV.
"Successfully combined my studies with work and other commitments". Public Relations is largely about juggling lots of different tasks successfully, so this is an important piece of evidence that she will cope with the demands of the job
Summariseskey attributes that make her suitable for PR jobs: initiative, drive, team-player, hardworking, meticulous, motivated.
Nice snappy ending to the profile
THE AVERAGE ......
I am an energetic and enthusiastic person who enjoys a challenge and achieving personal goals. My present career aim is to work within IT because I enjoy working with computers, I enjoy the environment and I find the work interesting and satisfying. The opportunity to learn new skills and work with new technologies is particularly attractive to me.
This statement is very bland: too vague and makes broad general statements.
This is a good example of where it would be better to use no statement at all as it adds nothing to the CV. If you are not sure leave out the profile and use your covering letter to sell your skills instead.
AND THE UGLY!
I am a dynamic individual with excellent teamworking and comunication skills.
It should be Personal Statement NOT Personnel!
CoMunication is spelt wrongly here - should be coMMunication.
Avoid hackneyed phrases such as "I have good communication skills and work well in a team" They sound vague and vacuous, send selectors to sleep.
A very vague career aim.
Statements such as "I am a dynamic individual" can sound arrogant unless well written, and more importantly backed up with evidence later in the CV, otherwise they can sound just like hot air! Although see our Confident Covering Letter to see how this strategy can be made to work effectively
I am looking for management training which offers me the opportunity to develop new skills while strengthening those I already possess.
My degree in History has enabled me to develop good organisational skills, an analytical/logical approach to tasks and the ability to work under pressure. I am able to work well both on my own initiative and as part of a team.
My main strengths are adaptability, dependability and the determination to get a job done as proven by my varied work experiences in retail, catering, hospitality work, teaching and patient care. I try to learn something new from every experience because I believe there is always room for self-improvement both personally and professionally.
Fairly broad career objective: she's trying to keep her options open here.
Sells the skills she has gained in her degree.
Summarises her main strengths and relates these to her work experience.
Nice last line about self improvement. Employers particularly like graduates who are up for new challenges.
I have a visual impairment (full details are available on request), but this has not in any way prevented me from successfully completing a demanding degree course and further education qualifications. Far from being a disadvantage, this has increased my awareness of the needs of others and has increased my determination to succeed and to persevere when obstacles are placed in my path.
This focuses on the applicant's disability, but rather than deterring the selector, it sells the skills she has gained from overcoming her disability ; awareness of the needs of others, determination and perseverance. It is short, to the point and effective.
Interesting title: About Me. This is a more informal title that might work well in the creative and media fields.
A graduate with strong communication and organisational skills gained in nursing, now seeking to move into a career as an analytical chemist. Whilst my degree is in forensic science a large majority of the course consisted of chemistry, as highlighted by the list of modules completed on my course shown below. I feel I have learned more than just the theory behind Forensics but also many fundamental skills for my career and life.
As I am a mature student I have other qualities to bring to the work place such as good team work, organisational skills, efficiency and I am very meticulous, I show pride in all the work I do, I work well under pressure and I love a challenge. I posses excellent verbal and written communication skills and am able to relate to a wide range of people. All these skills have been enhanced during all the work experiences I have gained over the years.
Profile for a mature student.
Starts with her objective. Also sells her degree, even though it's in a slightly different field to that she is applying for, by listing relevant modules (not shown here of course: see the science CV).
Sells the attributes she brings to the workplace as a mature graduate: pride in work, gets on well with a range of people.
Also says she has some of the key skills required by forensic scientists: meticulous, efficient, organised.
To enter a graduate training programme in multimedia, preferably in the new-media sector where my creative initiative, ideas and a genuine enthusiasm would allow me to progress.
I have a good working knowledge of many industry leading software applications such as Adobe Dreamweaver, Photoshop and Autodesk Maya. I work to the highest standards and have an eye for detail with skills in design and organisation. Completing my course projects has taught me to provide originality and quality whilst successfully meeting deadlines.
A clear, well written objective here can help to stand out from the crowd in the competitive area of the media or multimedia.
Gives brief evidence of technical skills. More details would be given later in the CV.
Evidence of core competencies needed in the work: originality, quality, attention to detail, organising, and deadline orientation.
A versatile IT graduate, possessing strong motivational drive to succeed in the industry.
Highly developed skills in problem identification and implementation of effective solutions. Comfortable with analysing and understanding data, working under time pressure and presenting myself in a professional manner. Excellent inter-personal communication and social skills built through extensive training with the Samaritans. A friendly, mature and flexible individual with a proven entrepreneurial approach towards objectives and tasks.
Here there is no heading to the profile. It's obvious that it is a profile by the content, and with CVs, the simpler it is, the better!
A very confident profile. Written without the use of personal pronouns (I have ....) to save space.
Second paragraph is rather dense and might be better broken up by the use of bullets or smaller paragraphs to make easier to read.
A Business Administration graduate from the University of Kent. He has skills and knowledge essential for managing key areas of an organisation and the problem solving skills needed in finance. He is looking for a graduate trainee post in marketing where he can use his strong influencing skills.
Through his studies, work and voluntary roles he has acquired the ability to meet deadlines while maintaining a high standard of work. He possesses a good telephone manner and is able to relate to a wide range of people.
Clear objective, although a bit confusing - mentions both finance and marketing!Targeted at the skills required for the job :
This is written in the 3rd person (he rather than I) as if written by a referee. This seems to be a modern trend recommended by some recruitment agencies, but I'm not keen as it seems rather false and impersonal.
Uses "key attributes" instead of profile here.
A bulleted list here. Looks well organised and easy to see the key points, but a short paragraph of prose is warmer and more friendly. Action words are well used here.
Misses out the personal pronoun and verb here (I am ....). This saves space and gives a cleaner look.
Project management skills are increasingly in demand so sell course projects and especially group projects.
Also evidence for other relevant skills: presenting, quality focus, people skills and team working.
Also see Personal Statements for Postgraduate Study and Personal Statements for Teacher Training
Back to CV and Covering Letter Examples Home Page
By Mike Simpson
What is the best way to start my resume?
How do I get the attention of the hiring manager?
These are questions we have all asked ourselves at one point or another.
And to muddy the waters a little bit, we have the ongoing “battle” between “Team Resume Objective” and and “Team Resume Summary Statement”.
What, you’ve never heard of this age-old war over the real estate at the very beginning of your resume?
Don’t worry, it’s a relatively new struggle brought about by our constant desire for finding an advantage over the other candidates vying for the same jobs we are. And we’ve made all of this much easier by giving you our free Resume Summary Cheat Sheet.
“But what’s the difference, and which one is right for me?”
In a previous article we tackled Resume Objectives and what they are and who should use them (head over to take a look and see if this is the best choice for you).
Generally speaking, people who were just entering the work force, perhaps lacked experience in their fields, or were in the middle of a massive career change benefited most by using an objective statement.
But what about someone with experience or someone who isn’t changing their field?
Well, that’s where the summary statement comes into play!
If you just want to jump straight to the resume summary statement examples further along in this article then CLICK HERE
Understanding the Resume Summary Statement
So what exactly is a resume summary statement?
A resume summary statement is similar to an objective statement in that it is a quick way for a job seeker to catch a hiring manager’s attention by summarizing critical information at the top of your resume in an easy to read format.
Before we go any further, I want to stop you right now. A “Resume Objective” and “Resume Summary Statement” are NOT interchangeable. They are, in fact, two very different things and should not be confused.
Resume statements essentially are just a few short, well worded, well targeted sentences that summarize your skills and experiences.
Sometimes called “Qualification Summaries” or even just “Competencies,” these two or three sentences can, when done right, give you a real advantage in the hiring game.
I don’t get it. I’m already qualified to do the job. What’s the point? Can’t they just read my resume and get that information themselves?
Absolutely.But remember, hiring managers are often going through dozens, if not hundreds of resumes per available job, so anything that can make their job easier is a good thing.
Imagine this…you’re the perfect candidate and you just know you’re the one the company should hire but the manager has been going through mountains of resumes. By the time they get to yours, they’re just skimming…trying to make it through.
They glance at your resume but, in their tired overwhelmed rush to get done, miss a few key sentences. Your resume, and your prospects at the company, are accidentally ignored.
Cue long drawn out overly dramatic cry of despair:
Now imagine if that SAME resume had had a summary statement at the top clearly outlining why you’re the perfect candidate.
Instead of skimming, the hiring manager read that, nodded in satisfaction, and dropped your resume on the top of the “To Interview” pile.
Cue victory dance!
Think of a resume summary statement as a good friend at a party. They want to introduce you to the hiring manager in such a way that the manager wants to talk to you!
A great resume statement is your job seeking wingman!
Okay, let’s go to our make believe place and pretend we’re outside the gates to a huge party. There are hundreds of guests (job seekers) waiting along with us but only one bouncer (hiring manager). Everyone wants to get into the party (job) and meet the host (your new boss).
Problem is, this bouncer is VERY picky and is only letting in a very small group of people.
Everyone lines up and gets just ONE SHOT to impress the bouncer. You can see people in line ahead of you eagerly walking up to the bouncer and having varying degrees of luck. Most get pointed towards the exit before they even open their mouths.
A few manage to get in a word or two before they too are pointed towards the door. You watch in slack jawed amazement as just three people out of the hundred ahead of you actually make it past the velvet ropes.
Then suddenly it’s your turn. You stand in front of the bouncer, your heart in your throat, your mouth dry. You start to extend your hand for a hearty handshake but before you can get it up, you catch a blur out of the corner of your eye.
A man swoops in, standing next to you with a huge grin on his face. He reaches out, grabs the bouncer’s hand and shakes it for you.
“Hey! I have got to introduce you to this guy!” the stranger tells the bouncer, looking over his shoulder at you with a smile. “Seriously, this guy worked miracles at his last job.
Not only is he an expert communicator with over 10 years of experience but he has the proven ability to manage multiple projects while meeting challenging deadlines…and didn’t our host specifically state those were the kinds of people he was looking to meet tonight?”
The bouncer looks at you. Gone is the squinty eyed glare replaced with a look of contemplation and…dare we say…interest?
He grunts and nods, reaches for the ropes…and you’re in!
But just who was that mysterious man?
That, my friend, was your resume statement…summing up your qualifications into a neat and tidy power packed punch of awesome directly targeting what the hiring managers are looking for.
Okay, so you’ve hooked me. Now, how do I write a good summary statement?
Well, read on to the next section to find out! But first, take the time to download our free Resume Summary Cheat Sheet, which hands you word-for-word-resume summaries you can use on your resume right now. Click here to get the Resume Summary Cheat Sheet.
How To Write A Great Resume Summary Statement
First off you need to do you research. Just like everything else you’ve done up to this point in your job search quest, you need to make sure that you’re maximizing your potential.
You have a very limited space to use on your resume and the last thing you want to do is waste any of it.
The goal is to get your statement down to four to six bullets (give or take a couple) distilled down into two or three laser focused sentences.
The first thing you want to do is go back and look at the job you’re applying for and determine your target audience. Re-read the job posting, keeping your eyes open for key phrases and words.
- Who are they looking for?
- What do they want that person to bring to the table? What value can they provide?
- What would l look for in a hire if I were the one posting this job?
Once you identify those things, it’s time to figure out how you fit into them.
- What are your top selling points? Find three or four things that define you as a professional and are unique to you. Are you a God among men when it comes to sales or customer service? Are you a DaVinci of schematics and CAD drawings? Make sure these are things you ENJOY doing…don’t list things you’re good at but that you hate doing…or you’ll get stuck doing them again.
- What critical problems did you identify in the job posting and how are you positioned to solve them? How does your summary align with the company job requirements?
- What are your career highlights and key strengths? How much experience do you have in doing what you’re doing? Do you have additional certifications or achievements that set you apart?
- Where does what you want and bring intersect with what the company wants and needs?
Now, keep in mind that the above things are things you WANT to put in your statement…and also remember there are things NOT to put in your statement. Things like:
- Microsoft Office. We get it. Everyone should be proficient with this suite of programs and if you’re not, then hurry up and get proficient. Even if you’re a technological wizard your hardware and software skills should go in their own separate section…not your summary statement.
- Things you’re good at but that you hate doing. We touched on this briefly above but it’s something that bears repeating. If you don’t like doing it in your job now, don’t list it in your summary statement or you’ll have to keep doing it.
- Tired, old adjectives. These are words like ‘results-oriented,’ and ‘hardworking,’ ‘innovative’ and ‘motivated.’ Use action verbs instead (we’ve written another blog post about action verbs that you need to read.. click here to read now).
If you know anything about the Interview Guys, you know that we value "tailoring" over almost anything else when it comes to virtually anything job interview-related. Hence our creation of the Tailoring Method (head over to the article to learn the basics of tailoring). Your resume summary statement is no different. During your research, you need to identify the Qualities (knowledge, skills and abilities) that your company values for your position and infuse them into your summary. See examples below for how to do this.
Now that we’ve looked at what to include and what NOT to include, it’s time to start writing your own resume statements.
Start out your statement by being specific! Make sure it’s tailored to not only the position, but the company as well. Are you applying to five jobs? You should have five objective statements. Ten jobs? Ten statements. Two hundred jobs? Two hundred statements. Get the idea?
Focus on how you’re a benefit to the company…not how the company can benefit you.
Keep it valuable…that is…make sure you point out what you bring to the table.
Keep it short and sweet.
Always open your statement with your title. Why? Because you want to communicate your professional identity immediately! You want whoever is reading the resume to know AT A GLANCE exactly who they’re dealing with.
Remember, there are lots of people applying for these jobs and the last thing you want to do is get lost in the shuffle.
Plus, if the job is specifically looking for someone to fill a role and you’re already doing that role at another job, you’ve just ensured that the hiring mangers take a second look at your resume!
Next, take all the things we discussed above and pull it all together into your summary statement.
Resume Summary Statement Examples
Here are a few resume summary statement examples for professionals who would be considered experts in their fields.
As mentioned above, you want to tailor these statements to the needs of the company you are interviewing with. For example, let’s say in this first example that the applicant researched the company and discovered that nearly all of their employees shared a common Quality… “management experience”. So this needs to be highlighted in the summary statement. The Quality is highlighted in orange (Be sure to support the fact that you have that quality with supporting statements:
Architectural Project Coordinator with over fifteen years of experience. Versatile, bilingual professional with management experience ranging in size from small private projects to full scale multi-million dollar high profile corporate construction projects. Ability to oversee and manage hundreds of individuals while ensuring timely completion of project deadlines all while remaining on or under budget.
This resume summary example is well done for a number of reasons.
First off, it’s short and sweet. Secondly, whoever is reading it knows exactly who they’re dealing with. It opens with the job seeker’s title, Architectural Project Coordinator.
You also know they’re a professional with 15 years of experience and then it quickly and cleanly goes into details about what they’ve accomplished in those 15 years.
Most importantly though is the fact that they have identified the Quality (or qualities) the company values and infused it into the statement along with some proof. Be sure to include a supporting line that proves you have the quality!
Let’s look at another. We assume that the applicant has done his/her research and is now tailoring the summary:
Current Administrative Office Manager. Versatile, reliable and efficient with 8+ years experience supporting managers and executives in high paced environments. Diversified skills include client relations, human resources, recruiting, project management, and administrative support. Excellent phone and digital communication skills.
Another solid summary!
Project Manager with 10+ years experience specializing in web production, education publications, public outreach and consumer packaging. Professional, creative, flexible with proven analytical skills. Adept at researching and crafting award winning marketing campaigns for a wide variety of clients and products.
Are you getting the hang of these?
Okay, here’s another one:
Experienced sales manager in retail industry with strengths in customer service, sales and negotiations. Proven skills in marketing, advertising, product integration, and promotions. Successful in developing strategies that have resulted in an over 20% increase in new customers. Instrumental in developing an incentives rewards program with a repeat customer success rate of over 45%.
Now, if I were a hiring manager, I’d want to know more about each of the individuals with the summaries we’ve looked at above.
But what if you don’t have any experience? Or if your experiences aren’t directly related to what you’re applying for?
Again, think long and hard before putting a summary statement on your resume if this is you. You might want to consider a qualifications summary which we outlined in last week’s post…but if you just have to have a summary…here are a few examples to help you get started.
For someone with no experience or a recent graduate:
Engineering Graduate with leadership training and experience with academic training at the University of Montana. Proven skills in project management, organization and research with a background in office administration and organization. Able to provide employers with administrative support and professional communication skills.
Okay, not bad. Certainly better than nothing…but again, make sure to seriously consider the objective statement first.
For someone who is changing careers:
Proven IT Specialist with experience in start-ups as well as established operations leveraging expertise in organization, computer networking, and problem solving to provide exceptional user support and assistance in resolving conflict. Experience includes managing sensitive materials and providing after-hours support for clients.
This one is good. It lets the person know that is reading the resume that the applicant is coming from a different field but that the skills they bring can translate to the job they’re applying for.
So there you have it. Resume Summary Statements. Your perfect resume wingman!
Remember that the most important thing for you to do is spend the time researching the company you are interviewing with and tailor your summary to the company you are interviewing with.
Thanks for reading!
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FREE: Resume Summary PDF Cheat Sheet
Get our handy Resume Summary Cheat SheetPDF.
In it you'll get word-for-word sample resume summariescovering a variety of positions you can use right away.