Writing a profile
Including a profile in your CV is optional. This can work very well for mature students, postgraduates and MBA students who wish to highlight specific achievements or relevant experience.
A profile is generally not needed for undergraduates, unless the candidate wants to signpost exceptional achievements or particularly relevant experience and skills that fit the job description.
If you wish to include a profile on your CV, understand that this will be the most challenging section to write.
What is the purpose of a profile?
An effective profile is a concise paragraph with a summary of a candidate’s main education, skills, key achievements and objective, presented generally in a very short statement of no more than 4 lines max. The purpose is to match yourself up with the requirements for the job (or placement or internship), to show what you will bring to the table, and this must be highly explicit and succinct. You are informing this employer that you are the ideal candidate, as you match the most important requirements for their job. This also needs to be double-checked and maybe re-written for every job you are applying for.
If you have a clear aim, say, to find a graduate job as a financial analyst, then it’s likely that one profile will do, as most financial analyst roles require the same skills, such as analytical skills, problem-solving, team working and communication skills. If the purpose is the same, i.e. seeking a graduate entry role (or a placement or an internship), then you may find that one well-written profile can serve you well.
Why most profiles don’t work
The majority of profiles convey very little meaning or state the obvious, and can be very long, all of which makes them ineffective. Examples might be as follows (please avoid all of these):
- I am a hard-working, punctual individual who is highly motivated…
- A dynamic team player who always gives 100% …
- I am a highly reliable person who always produces high quality work and who gains a lot of satisfaction from completing all tasks on time …
Every employer expects staff to focus on the work, turn up on time and perform satisfactorily. Therefore reliability and punctuality are the minimum requirements for any type of job.
In addition, most profile statements are ambiguous and not very meaningful:
- … therefore I am looking for a placement with a global employer that will provide me with an opportunity to develop my skills further and learn more about accountancy in an international setting.
- … I always enjoy meeting new people and hope to build on my current knowledge of international business.
- … I am looking for an international company that will enable me to develop professionally and am eager to put my skills into practice.
Remember: your application is not about what you hope to achieve personally, but about what you will bring to the role.
Key points for an effective profile
1) Know what the employer is looking for / know your aim
If you have a clear aim and know what role you wish to apply for, then you need to show that your key skills you match up with the job’s requirements.
Typically, these are stated in the job description under a heading Person Specification or Requirements/What we are looking for. If this is not stated in the job description, then you might wish to look this up on a graduate career database, for example, on Graduate Prospects (under entry requirements) or TargetJobs (under Career Sectors). Click on the blue titles to access directly.
2) Avoid full grammatical sentences – short phrases suffice to convey clear meaning
Keep it short and to the point. The reader will have very little time and the purpose of your CV is to back up your detailed information and explanations and examples are given in the covering letter or application form. Four lines should be the absolute maximum.
3)Include your objective – what are you hoping to achieve with this CV?
The reader should be able to tell what it is that you’re looking for. If this is ambiguous, then it might be assumed that the remainder of your CV and application generally is also ambiguous (e.g. I’m looking for an exciting opportunity to build on my skills). What is exciting for one person may be not exciting for someone else, so this is ambiguous.
Some improved examples
Digital Marketing – placement/year in industry:
A creative 2nd year Business student with social media experience, excellent written and verbal communication and team working skills. Seeking a 12-months’ placement opportunity in digital marketing.
Accountancy – graduate training scheme:
High-achieving final year Accounting and Finance student with strong analytical and problem-solving skills. Have proven team working and communication skills developed from year in industry in management finance. Seeking graduate entry-level role as trainee accountant.
Management Consultancy – internship:
Bi-lingual second-year International Business student with initial business experience, strong problem-solving, team-working and leadership skills. Seeking internship in management consulting.
Backing up your statement with evidence
Finally, whatever you say in your profile needs to be backed up in your CV with details provided in the relevant section where these skills were used. Your application will then confirm this in more depth, as you are then writing about your examples for the skills.