Personalising your profile for job-hunting success

Q: On a number of occasions, you have mentioned including a Personal Profile at the start of a CV. I am not quite clear on what form that should take. In my current CV, I give my contact details and then move onto my work experience. What value would a Personal Profile add, and, more to the point, how might it read? I’m a qualified primary school teacher and am applying for jobs – at the moment, I get some ‘sub’ days here and there, but need to get something more permanent. (LT, email)

A: This question has prompted me to run a series of articles over the coming weeks on the actual components of a CV. LT, you have alerted me to the fact that I sometimes refer in general terms to various parts of a CV, and that it would be a good idea to be more specific.

Between your contact details and your work experience, I would add two sections:

1. Personal Profile – which can also be called Career Summary, Career Objective, or something along those lines.
2. Key Achievements, Skills & Attributes.

Today I will deal with the Personal Profile, and move onto the Key Achievements, Skills & Attributes section next week.

Think of a Personal Profile as the opening shot in a sales pitch. It is used to offer an overview of you as a person/potential employee. It doesn’t force the reader to absorb too much detail just yet. Instead, it hopes to achieve the aim of encouraging the reader to keep reading.

A Personal Profile for a primary school teacher might read as follows:

“Thorough and reliable teacher who believes strongly in my ability to motivate and inspire children. My primary school teaching education and relevant work experience have developed my capacity to prompt the holistic development of all children in my care. I bring a range of related attributes to the role, including my commitment to extra-curricular activities such as sport and music, and am confident I can prove a valuable addition to your teaching staff”.

As you can see, it is an introduction: later in the CV you can add layers of proof to substantiate the claims you have made in the Personal Profile.

At the end of the Personal Profile, you should be hoping the reader is sufficiently interested to continue reading. In this Personal Profile, I have sought to bring in the professional and the personal – trusting that a teacher who is willing to train a soccer team or run a choir is very attractive to most principals.

I have three sentences in that Personal Profile. That’s plenty. Don’t give them War & Peace early on. Try to get their heads nodding.

A salesperson might have the following Personal Profile:

“Enthusiastic, self-motivated and people-oriented salesperson, with a proven record of developing long-lasting relations with customers. Take responsibility for my own performance at all times. Now seeking a position where I can illustrate my worth as a sales professional.”

You may note the staccato, third-person style: that’s not essential. That style has become commonplace in CVs over the years, but it is perfectly acceptable to inject more I’s and active verbs into the Personal Profile. What matters is that you give the employer an overview that places you in the right context as they embark on reading the rest of your CV.

To get a copy of the Sli Nua Careers Career Resource pack, email with Resource Pack in the subject line. Sli Nua Careers offer CV preparation, interview training and mock interview services at their offices in Galway, Dublin and Ballinrobe, Co. Mayo. More: