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 email@example.com
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
This year two in five of the nation’s workers confirmed that they are unhappy with their current jobs.
If this is you, it’s time to spruce up your CV ready for your job search.
Putting together the core information of your CV, such as education and employment history, is a fairly easy task.
While you may think these components are all you need to market yourself effectively, you should probably add a personal profiletoo, to give your CV the extra oomph it needs to secure that job in 2018.
What is a personal profile?
A personal profile, otherwise known as a personal statement, CV profile or perhaps even a career aim, is essentially the blurb of your career portfolio.
This small paragraph sits at the top of your CV, concisely and effectively displaying who you are, your skills and strengths relevant to the sector or job role and your career goals.
Sounds like quite a mouthful, but personal statements are no problem to write, we promise. They’re actually really similar to cover letters, except you’ll be selling your best points to a potential employer in about four sentences, rather than an A4 page.
So, if you’ve spent all this time jazzing up your CV to hook, line and sinker that recruiter in your New Year job search, adding a personal profile ensures they grab the bait.
Not sure what a personal profile looks like? Check out these five winning examples.
Is a personal profile necessary in 2018?
Personal profiles are widely debated across the industry, with some experts claiming you need one to sell your skills, and others suggesting they’re a waste of valuable space.
The short answer is you don’t need to have a personal statement. However, a study revealed that on average recruiters spend 8.8 seconds looking at your CV, so rather than letting your CV get lost in this ‘Tinderised’ process, you should give them a reason to read on.
There are some genuine reasons why you might not choose to have a personal statement, but it shouldn’t be that you can’t be bothered to write one! It actually depends on your job search status – if you’re applying for a specific job role and attaching a cover letter to your CV, then you may actively choose not to have a personal statement.
As we’ve already mentioned, your cover letter is going to do a lot of the talking for you, so you may feel it’s best not to have another summary. Saying that, the whole point of a CV is to market yourself, so if you can include another piece of advertising, then why not?
If you’re a graduate, then it might be best to leave the professional side of the personal statement at bay until you’ve gained some more work experience – simply highlight the fact you’ve got a degree, and outline the career path you’d like to follow.
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While it’s not a bad thing to share your ambitions with recruiters, you’ll probably find the word count could be better spent discussing your final year project in more depth (just when you thought you’d never have to talk about your final year dissertation again!)
If, however, you’ve chalked up strengths and experiences during your time at university that anchor you to the job you’re applying for, you should highlight these in your personal statement, and make it clear to the recruiter that you will excel in this job role.
Personal profiles are also particularly handy if you’re trying to enter a competitive sector such as PR, advertising, film, music and publishing. As you can imagine, recruiters from these fields deal with hundreds of CVs on a regular basis and will simply flick past your CV unless they spot that competitive edge.
Personal profiles are the perfect way for you to grab their attention and persuade recruiters to continue reading your CV because you’re telling them from the off exactly why they should hire you. Of course, you’ll need to know how to write an effective statement first, but we’ll get on to that in a bit.
You should also consider writing a personal statement if you’re uploading your CV to a job board like CV-Library, as this gives you the chance to highlight your career goals and give your CV more context.
While this is valuable information for recruiters, it’s just as important for you to get it right, as your personal statement will enable recruiters to match you with the right job and ensure that the role is fulfilling.
If you’re not entirely sure what job you want, or if there are a few sectors you reckon you could enter with your particular skill set, then it’s probably best not to include a personal statement.
If your opening statement is too broad, you risk giving the impression that you haven’t done your research properly, or that you’re looking for any old job – not the best impression to make on a potential employer!
Check out CV templates
How to structure a personal profile
We know writing a personal statement can seem quite daunting but honestly, once you’ve started writing it, the rest will come naturally. Here’s a breakdown of the basics of creating your statement.
The most important thing to remember is that statements are usually around four sentences in length, and no more than six. Aim for anywhere between 50 and 200 words, and you’re golden.
Like the length, the grammatical person you’re writing in also has some flexibility. You could choose to write in the third person which can appear more objective, for example, ‘Project manager seeking… skills include…’ Or you could write in the first person which tends to be more personal: ‘I am a project manager seeking… My skills are…’
It honestly doesn’t matter which person you choose, just pick the one you’re comfortable writing in. As long as you keep it consistent, you can’t go wrong.
Does my personal profile need a title?
The simpler your CV layout, the better. The last thing recruiters want is to trawl through a bundle of words trying to pick out your good bits like they’re the orange ones in a packet of revels.
You don’t really need a title for your personal statement. It sits under your name and contact info, and before the first chunk of your job or education history, so it’s pretty obvious it’s an introduction to you.
Secondly, make the spacing a little bigger and try increasing it to 1.5. As it’s the first thing a recruiter will read, you want this to be as clear as possible – it’s often a real decision maker.
What to include in your personal profile
When drafting your personal statement for your dream job in 2018, split it into three sections: who you are, what you can offer the company, and your career goals.
TIP: Bullet point things you might mention under each of these sections, then list the qualities that position you as the ideal person for the job.
In the ‘who you are’ section you might state that you’re:
- A recent graduate with a 2:1 degree in Creative Writing from the University of Surrey seeking an entry-level position in…
- A highly-skilled mechanical engineer looking to resume a position in…
- An ambitious purchasing manager looking to progress into…
In the ‘what you can offer the company’ part, you’re selling your absolute top skills and strengths and backing them up with evidence. If you’re tweaking your CV because you’re applying for a particular job, use the job spec to create your statement. For example, if the employer is looking for someone with attention to detail and you’ve got experience meticulously proofing essays or presentations etc., then say so.
If you’re crafting a more general personal statement with a job title in mind, be sure you include achievements that are noteworthy and will make you stand out in that field. For example, if you’re looking for a position within graphic design and you’ve got extensive Photoshop experience working on a major campaign, not only can you claim you have these skills in your personal statement, but you can back them up too – perfect!
The important thing to remember here is not to litter your personal statement with a trail of buzzwords. You might well be an ‘extremely driven strategic thinker with excellent communication skills and extensive experience in marketing’, but all you’ve really done here is told the recruiter that you’ve worked in marketing with no proof of your other claims.
To top it off, you’ve also revealed this information in an extremely boring way that recruiters have heard a million times before; when it comes to selling yourself, you don’t want to write something as bland and soggy as overcooked rice; you want to lovingly craft a seafood paella.
Try to highlight real, relevant skills and back them up with evidence to make the statement strong. Try something like this for the middle section:
- During my degree, I have developed an excellent eye for detail due to the heavy demands of assignments and research. As a result, I am also able to work under pressure, especially when balancing my educational workload with my volunteering placement at local nursing homes.
- Knowledgeable engineer with a wide skill-set, including condition-based maintenance, through working on automated systems such as…
- Through utilising my communications skills when working in managerial positions at large corporations, I have developed successful working relationships and resultantly, an advantageous professional network.
The final section of the personal statement is to highlight your career goals. More than anything this shows the recruiter that you’re a professional worth investing time and money in. Take a look at these examples:
- I am looking for a challenging, fast-paced environment within media to utilise my written knowledge and develop my creative skill set further.
- Looking to re-establish a career in a progressive organisation which requires engineering expertise, after taking maternity leave to care for a new-born.
- I am looking to secure a challenging role in a market-leading automotive company where I can bring fresh strategic vision and value to the business.
Dos and don’ts
Here’s a quick breakdown of the key points to remember when crafting that all-important statement.
- Get straight to the point – recruiters don’t like to read waffle!
- Provide evidence of your skills and experience, but be brief! Offer just enough to hook the recruiter.
- Remember that you’re marketing yourself.
- Make the statement look purposeful – you need show you know what you’re talking about, without sounding too arrogant.
- Reflect the job specification in your statement.
- Be real! Recruiters ultimately want to know you as a person and what you can bring to the table.
- Proofread for spelling and grammar.
- Read it aloud to make sure it flows properly. Probably best to get someone else to run an eye over it too.
- Overuse buzz words – You might want to chuck a few in there, but a hyperbolic stream of empty qualities and meaningless words is just off-putting.
- Mix the grammatical person – remember either first person or third, not both.
- Be boring – you want to sound unique with noteworthy qualities.
- Copy from your cover letter or copy your cover letter from your statement – that’s just lazy.
Complete personal profile examples for 2018
Here are a few final examples of personal statements for you to gloss over. Hopefully, it’ll spark some inspiration for your own.
‘I am a recent graduate with a 2:1 degree in Creative Writing from the University of Surrey seeking an entry-level position in copywriting. During my degree, I have developed an excellent eye for detail due to the heavy demands of assignments and research. Over the last year, I have also balanced an editing position at Surrey’s media society, where I have devised content ideas and managed a small team of writers, proving that I have potential to excel within a professional writing field. I am looking for a challenging, fast-paced environment within media to utilise my creative knowledge and develop my writing skill-set further.’
‘A highly-skilled mechanical engineer looking to resume a position in industrial construction. Extremely knowledgeable with seven years industry experience. Possesses a wide skill set, including condition-based maintenance, through working on automated systems on large-scale building projects. Looking to re-establish a career in a progressive organisation which requires engineering expertise after a short career break to take care of a new-born.’
‘I am an ambitious purchasing manager looking to progress into a senior purchasing position within the automotive sector. I have developed communication skills when working in managerial positions at large automotive corporations, nurtured successful working relationships and, resultantly, possess an advantageous professional network. Due to over 12 years of experience within this industry, I am fully equipped with commercial awareness and product knowledge. I am looking to secure a challenging role in a market-leading automotive company where I can bring fresh strategic vision and value to the business.’