A personal profile statement, also known as a summary of qualifications, or career summary, is essentially a cover letter in miniature. And just like a covering letter, it is intended to attract instant attention to your most compelling skills and qualities as they relate to the roles you are attempting to target. Appearing as it does at the top of your curriculum vitae, either on its own or immediately after your career objective statement, your personal profile may prove the only section of your document to be reviewed in full by potential employers.
For this reason, it is imperative to write a personal profile that immediately commands the reader's interest, then maintains their attention throughout—right up to the concluding statement.
Sample Personal Profile Statements—Spot the Difference
Putting together an engaging, informative summary of qualifications takes time, effort and a flair for captivating prose. Without these elements firmly in place, the end result can do more harm that good. The following sample has been culled, word-for-word, from a genuine career summary, and illustrates just how much damage a poorly thought-out, badly-written personal profile statement can visit upon an otherwise-professional curriculum vitae.
POOR EXAMPLES OF SUMMARY OF QUALIFICATIONS STATEMENTS
'So here I am. Now if I look to the mirror I see a 20 years old bloke, having an own understanding of reality, full of self-confidence, hopes and desire. Now I am different and I have different people around me. What happens to me now is what I am experiencing. This is my life. And it's just my existence.'
Admittedly, the writer's tenuous grasp of the English language makes matters considerably more horrifying than they might otherwise have been, but there is no denying that few employers are likely to relish the Bill-and-Ted burblings of a man whose esoteric Excellent Adventure is, 'What happens to me now is what I am experiencing.'
Instead of making plain the area of employment the candidate is seeking, describing his professional experience, and powerfully conveying the expertise and understanding that make him uniquely suited to the role in question, the author seems much more excited about the prospect of informing us that he is 'full of self-confidence, hopes and desire.' Wonderful as all that may be, what exactly has it got to do with the serious business of job hunting?
The answer, unfortunately, is 'Nothing at all.'
GOOD EXAMPLES OF SUMMARY OF QUALIFICATIONS STATEMENTS
'Goal-orientated fundraising director/marketing administrator, adept at not-for-profit initiatives. Proven ability to husband complex, resource-intensive project budgets for both limited and multi-million Euro projects. Respected leader, equipped with powerful communication, coordination and analysis skills. Fully committed to providing and implementing dynamic, compelling solutions to the ongoing objectives of the charitable organisation.'
This second profile is markedly different from its predecessor. It infers the applicant's career objective within the first few words of the introductory sentence, and immediately supports this statement with solid evidence of the abilities and attributes essential to a role within the non-profit sector. It concisely highlights the candidate's prior responsibilities, practical skills, and personal traits in a simple, straightforward, and arrestingly effective manner.
the employer is given a strong motivation to read on, for if this just the career summary, then what must the remainder of this individual's curriculum vitae be like?
The answer, advantageously, is 'Even more impressive.'
Career Summaries and the Need for Unique Selling Points
Now that you understand what a personal profile statement is, what it does, and how it should look in a general sense, all that remains is for you to create one for your own CV. To begin, put yourself in the employer's shoes, and try to think about the experiences, qualities, and traits on which they would place most importance, bearing in mind the kind of work on offer. Then ask yourself this question: What is it about you—and only you—that sets you apart from other applicants with similar backgrounds? What are your strongest characteristics? How can you help the employer achieve their corporate career objectives, both in the short and long terms?
Decided on your answers? Then you're ready to start writing a personal profile that communicates them fully.
How to Write a Personal Profile Statement—Step by Step
An excellent personal profile is not unlike an excellent cake: both require certain basic ingredients without which they invariably fall flat. Similarly, both can be enhanced with the addition of non-essential, yet undeniably tasty, treats and trimmings, rendering the final confection virtually irresistible. Here, then, is our own recipe for writing a personal profile statement that sets corporate mouths to watering:
ESSENTIAL COMPONENTS OF A PERSUASIVE CAREER SUMMARY
Tell the reader who you are e.g. 'Visionary designer', 'Target-driven sales manager', 'Acclaimed analyst' etc.
Showcase your functional attributes e.g. 'Well-versed in all aspects of customer conversion and accounting.'
Garnish with some desirable personal characteristics e.g. 'A genuine to desire to achieve, excel and evolve.'
SUPPLEMENTARY INGREDIENTS FOR YOUR CAREER SUMMARY
Two or three skills clearly related to the job you are targeting e.g. time management, interpersonal relations. Accomplishments and important projects, although listing these in a separate section often has more impact.
Positive performance reviews, special awards and internal promotions—all of which are signifiers of success.
When to Augment Your Career Summaries With Career Objectives
If your next career move is an obvious progression from your current line of work, then step one of our guide to constructing your profile—tell the reader who you are—renders the inclusion of a career objective unnecessary. If someone identifies themselves as a 'Passionate art historian', for instance, then the reader can safely assume that being passionate about historical art is unlikely to be a cover for their secret love for industrial pipe welding, and is the career path along which they intend to continue travelling.
If on the other hard, the vacancy you are aiming for bears little or no resemblance to the kind of work you did in the past, then forging a strong career objective is an absolute must.
Integration Versus Separation—Another Sample Personal Profile
There are two ways you can go about adding a career objective to your personal profile statement. The first is to simply incorporate it directly into main body of your text, as shown in the following sample career summary:
'Expert administrator now seeking to harness twenty years' experience in recruitment, employee relations, and personnel management within a human resources capacity. Highly enthusiastic for this career change goal, and eager to proactively spearhead the long-term success of a HR department in the telecommunications industry.'
The other option— which often tend to favour—is to formulate a stand-alone career objective, no longer than a single sentence, that contextualises both your qualifications summary and curriculum vitae as a whole. With this completed, you need only take care to describe yourself using a trait (as opposed to a job title) at the beginning of your personal profile. This means that our art historian, should he suddenly decide that he really does have a penchant for pipes, could introduce himself as a 'Dedicated worker' or, reflecting on the technical prowess of the painters about whom he has grown so knowledgeable, a 'Craft specialist.' Both of these phrases serve the same purpose: to deflect attention from what he did before, and towards details that complement his new objectives.
Two Key Things to Avoid When Writing a Personal Profile Statement
To paraphrase the immortal words of John F. Kennedy, ask not what the employer can do for you, but what you can do for the employer. Talk of salaries, perks and your hopes for professional advancement should not appear in your summary of qualifications, since they suggest to readers that your goal is to become a beneficiary of the firm, rather than a contributor to its productivity and profitability. Of course, this may be exactly what you want to achieve, but private aspirations for fame, fortune, and bloodless coups are ambitions best kept under wraps.
Try not to be vague. Remember, your career summary needs to sell you harder than a London hawker at Spring market, so make every word count. Resist the urge to wheel out such desiccated mummies as 'I'm a team player who can also work on my own initiative' and 'I have good verbal and oral communication abilities'—phrases which have been used and abused time and again by cut-and-paste aficionados the world over, only to be incinerated by frustrated recruiters desperate for something fresh to read. Something that you now know just how to write.
And, hopefully, something that will provoke interest, telegraph your sterling skills, and afford you an abundance of outstanding interview opportunities.
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