Posted On 6th October 2013

This is the third in a series of blogs advocating for what I have labeled “personalised career marketing”.  While the end is most certainly the same as it has ever been – figuring out the best way to get a job – this series seeks to reconsider the means to that end.  Specifically, to rethink CVs not as a stock list of what you [the hypothetical jobseeker] have done, but to frame it as the beginning of a conversation between you and the reader.

In this blog, we consider the staple CV-dilemma: how to write an opening profile that carries impact and demands interest while managing to avoid the ridiculous clichés that haunt most CVs?

From my earlier blog [], you will remember that it is crucial to avoid subjective personality descriptions that are essentially descriptively vacuous (such as “positive, motivated self-starter”).   You will also remember that it is imperative to market yourself with content.  But what does that mean?

First and foremost, remember, YOU are the speaker, so speak for yourself.  The opening profile is your chance to say who you are, what you have done and what you want to do.  It is your chance to connect with the reader and to argue, in one fell swoop, precisely why you are qualified for the role to which you are applying.

Rather than plunging forward in an abstract argument, I think it will be more helpful to give an example format demonstrating what I mean. Thus below is a sample template to consider when crating a content-driven, personalised opening profile. Keep in mind the opening profile is never a one size fits all, and the below framework is a starting point, rather than complete template.  All words in [brackets] are meant to be customised to reflect the writer.

Who you are:

I am an experienced [generic job title, function and content specialist] with over [X] years’ experience in the challenging and vibrant [specific] industry.

What you have done: [think broad overview + specific achievements]

Having worked for both private and public sector institutions, including [name of prominent institution or brief description of company] and [name of other prominent institution or brief description of company] I have a track record of [skill 1, i.e. “project delivery”], [skill 2, i.e. “people management”] and [skill 3, i.e. “strategic development”].

At [company]/as [specific role], I [insert concrete achievement including specific metrics such as scale of people/budget managed, audience reached, funds raised, etc.].

What you want to do:

As my current contract comes to an end, I am now seeking new challenges in [x industry] where my [skill 1], [skill 2] and [skill 3] can deliver lasting impact.

The above template offers one way of framing yourself as content-driven and professional, while at the same time personable and engaged.  By writing in first person, you create a connection with the reader. By highlighting your achievements, you demonstrate that you have what it takes in a concrete way to get the job done. By giving the broad overview of your career, you communicate a record of progression and growth.  Instead of simply claiming “excellent written communication skills” in a random list of clichéd “Skills”, you demonstrate the capacity to communicate through your own writing.

You say enough to “hook” the reader, but not enough to bore the reader.

Most importantly, you speak for yourself.  Your voice comes through, and the reader engages with a person rather than an abstract package of skills.

Anna Smith

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