So we have had a romp through the evidence for a great CV. Now’s a good time exploring the subject that vexed a number of people when creating a new CV. That being the professional summary or statement. Or put it another way, who you are professionally and what you deliver at work.
This part of the CV can be designed to showcase your ambition, motivations, drivers competencies, capabilities and achievements. And will include your achievements, legacy and your career strategy. Needless to say, how you highlight these attributes will largely depend on your experience and career stage.
Painting a Professional Picture
The statement may need to start the process of painting a professional picture for the person reading it. It’s helping the reader understand who you are, what you are about and where you see yourself developing at work or business. All this in a clear, concise manner. Indeed the profile statement is particularly important where you don’t have comparable experience that the employer is looking for. Perhaps backfilling your knowledge or skills gap with transferable skills to highlight your fit for the role.
It may also be useful to share any important information that doesn’t necessarily fit neatly into the categories stated by the job & person specification. Again helping the employer or recruiter see you beyond the role being advertised. All this, of course, depends upon the industry sector you are working in or would like to work. Some industries such as design or media will have more latitude on how you present yourself through a CV professional statement. Some are driving toward one page CV that need no headings and a very short professional statement. Spend some time researching the industry sector and what recruiters expect to see. It will pay dividends in the long run.
The accepted wisdom with people reading CV’s for sifting for interviews is that you have only a few seconds to make an impact. Sometimes the CV will be put through text recognition software to search for keywords. It’s mainly to sift through significant numbers of CV’s to speed up the short listing of the lucky candidates. As a result, having the correct language for the role and keywords featured in the job and person specification is important. However, the question is how important is having a strong personal/professional statement at the beginning of the CV? What is the evidence to guide CV writers?
Taking the example from Thomas et al (1999) they suggest that accomplishment statements (achievements) and a targeted career goal or objective within the CV such as “seeking a sales managers role in a leading ……………..business” helps just as an unspecified one doesn’t. Having a broad and unspecified goal or objective as “looking for an interesting job in a growing organisation” may not help the CV get any recognition. However, surprisingly the evidence for this area of a CV is very scant, to say the least as mentioned before. Most of the research emanates from the US and conducted with captive groups of college/university students. Therefore not necessarily representative of the working population that need a CV. So there are very few studies to be able to help create a framework to support CV writing in this important area.
Studies from Nemanick & Clarke (2002) highlighted the significance of how impressed employers are with candidates who had taken up positions of responsibility and leadership roles. The conclusion reached suggested that this indicates the individual is motivated to look for leadership and positions of authority in the leisure and private time. Perhaps this facet allows the employer to see a “whole” person, not necessarily just focussed on their career but willing to take a leadership role in other areas of life. Employers need to see that you have learnt by achievements and challenges and able to implement this knowledge into career planning.
So where does all this debate on a personal statement leave us? I will give you an example of what the evidence is pointing toward with plan for a personal/professional statement. The personal statement then is broken into three distinct parts, firstly;
1: Who are you?
As a recent graduate from Bristol University, with a 2:1 honours degree in media communications, I have undertaken internships with leading organisations Hewlett Packard & Atos. These placements have enabled me to develop specific media & IT industry experience, and a significant bank of transferable skills in this fast-paced industry sector.”
NB If an “I” was inserted at the beginning of the statement, while not hugely different, it would read more like a list and therefore difficult to add to later on.
This part of the statement has allowed the recruiter to identify who you are very quickly and that you have had industry experience and core transferable skills. It could be argued that this is in itself may enough for your opening statement, however, we can expand upon it by adding some additional information.
2: What value can you bring to the business?
“During the placement with Hewlett Packard, I worked within the media & communications division contributing to projects such as the industry-leading website and user experience monitoring. I managed my own research and lead group project meetings. Using my first-class communication skills, I developed and successful working relationships with both internal, external staff & stakeholders.”
3: Your career aim & strategy
“Currently I am seeking to secure a position in a leading media & communications organisation, where I can bring immediate and strategic value to enhance and build upon my skill-set further.”
The suggestion here from the evidence mentioned is to be specific and concise. The may not be enough to state you have the skills for the job, say what the skills are, how you have developed them and in what context.
- Match person and job specifications as precisely as you can, spell checked and ensure it is well-written.
- Keep to the point and avoid long descriptions, make your testimonies clear and informative
- Aim for the statement to be between 50 to 200 words – and no more
- Use 1.5 line spacing to make your statement clearer and easier to read
- Read your profile out loud and get someone you trust to read the statement to ensure it reads naturally and clearly.
- Do not commit the cardinal sin of mixing first and third person sentences
- Consider different formats i.e. social media and Facebook
As mentioned before there are is reams of advice and guidance from careers advisers/coaches etc on this subject. All help you to construct a CV & professional statements. None of which are right or wrong – just different. So you will have to choose which design suits you and the industry needs. However, the evidence from careers psychology helps to focus the mind on the important factors. Constructing a personal/professional statement for a CV is a process of three steps. As outlined above.
Though staring at a blank sheet of paper or screen wondering where to start is tough. Try to stick to the main points with the process mentioned above. You will start to create a great professional statement for a winning CV. Need more help then just call me on 07572881604 or contact us for no obligation discussion about your CV. A small step will change you and your career for good.
Bright, J (2010) “Brilliant CV: What Employers Want to See and How to Write it” Prentice Hall; 4 edition
Fennah, P. (2014) “The Elite MBA CV; Executive Impact” bookboon.com (pp 71)
Guardian Careers (2014) “Careers Uncovered” Second Edition, Guardian Jobs
Lees, J. (2013) “Knockout CV: How to Get Noticed, Get Interviewed & Get Hired” McGraw-Hill Professional
Mills, C (2015) “You’re Hired! CV: How to write a brilliant CV” Trotman
Yates, J. (2014) “The Career Coaching Handbook” Routledge, Abingdon UK.
Nemanick, R. C. & Clarke, E. M. (2002) “The differential effects of extracurricular activities on attributions in resume evaluation” International Journal of Selection and Assessment, 10: 206-17
Thomas, P., McMasters, R., M.R. and Domowski, D.A. (1999) “Résumés characteristics as predictors of an invitation to interview”. Journal of Business and Psychology 13(3): 339-356