Being true to yourself is key to personal profile

Q: I have been trying to ‘bump up’ my personal profile section at the start of my CV, but everything I say seems to be cheesy. How can I write it without sounding like I’m blowing my own trumpet? I work in sales and am applying for a job in a different sector where opportunities are better. (Mary, email)
A: First off, Mary, the reality is that, whether you like it or not, a CV is a place where you must blow your own trumpet. It’s your stage, so to speak, and you’ve got to put on a performance.
But, it need not be cheesy. We always emphasise to candidates that they must be comfortable with the language used throughout their CV. So if it doesn’t sound right to you to say “I am arguably the greatest salesperson your company has never had”, don’t write it. Be true to yourself.
If you are self-conscious about what you are writing, perhaps you are trying to force it too much. Maybe you’re Googling away there and finding other personal profiles that are, in the vernacular, ‘a bit too pumped’ for you.
Might I suggest something like: “Determined and driven salesperson, with extensive experience in the {name your sector}, now seeking an opportunity to transfer my skills to the {name new sector} Confident I can bring real value to your organisation. Am keenly aware of the key elements of the salesperson’s role: building rapport, creating long-term relationships, after-sales service and follow-up.”
In that profile, you are not talking yourself up too much. But you are addressing key elements of the job. It is important that you write only what sits well with you – you will be obliged to support the words during the interview itself, so best not to create a profile that will not be consistent with your approach in the interview.
The other key point is that you must be able to back up what’s in your personal profile with real, tangible evidence. Outlandish claims will be quickly exposed as just that. So make sure the claims you make are supported by evidence from previous jobs, education, and the like later in the CV.
In the interview, too, you will be required to back up what you’ve claimed with in-depth examples.
Best of luck. And don’t be too self-conscious: every other CV will have people talking themselves up too. That’s the nature of the job-seeking arena.


Motivated by success

Q: In a job interview last week, I was asked ‘what motivates you?’ It really threw me. What might I have said? (John, email)

A: Always think about what the interviewer is trying to achieve. There is a reason he/she asked that question, and I would venture they were trying to get a greater understanding of you as a person.
If asked that question, I would seek to apply it to the job in question. If it were a sales role, I would talk about being motivated by ‘customers so happy they come back for repeat business.’
If it were a chef’s job, I would talk about ‘getting positive feedback from the diners.’ Whatever the key indicators of success in the job, use those as examples of what motivate you.
At a broader level, I would seek to show that I am conscientious, determined, driven, customer-focused, pro-active – whatever you feel you are, particularly those aspects of your personality that are relevant to the job in question.
Wrong answers would include ‘close of business on Friday – yippee, the weekend!’ and ‘holidays.’ Every answer in an interview should help you get the job.

This week’s quick tip from Sli Nua Careers

Don’t confine your job search to just one advertising avenue. Keep a close eye on newspaper, job sites, recruitment agencies, and even local supermarket notice boards. Jobs get advertised in all sorts of places. Ideally, have friends and families tipped off to keep an eye out for you too.

Sli Nua Careers ( have an online service that allows you to create a superb CV from the comfort of your own desk or home. For more details, email

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