A Career Aim, Personal Statement or Profile can be a useful way of flagging an interest and skills for a particular career on your CV, particularly if you have no relevant degree or work experience to give your CV focus. When profile is used used on this page it can be assumed that personal statement could have been used in its place.
On this page:
What do you call it?
- CAREER OBJECTIVE?
- CAREER AIM?
- CAREER ASPIRATION?
- CAREER GOAL?
- PERSONAL PROFILE?
- PERSONAL STATEMENT?
- KEY ATTRIBUTES?
- ABOUT ME
My own preferred title is simply:
- Focuses on the type of work you wish to get into.
- Focuses on your skills & achievements.
- Tells an employer who you are and what you can do for them.
- Steer away from vague skills such as communication,
- Focuses more on the specific competencies such as persuading and negotiating, lateral thinking, time management, planning, decision-making, business awareness and the other skills on our skills pages.
- short and to the point.
- contains a sentence or two about the type of work you are aiming for.
- a few lines about the attributes which make you suitable for the role.
- You can even call it nothing at all. If it’s in the usual place at the start of the CV you can just have an un-named paragraph.
Is it necessary?
- It’s not necessary to have a profile but if you do, it must be lively and succinct!
- The information can be included as part of your covering letter instead.
- It can be a useful summary particularly if you are sending your CV to recruitment agencies where a letter may become detached.
- They tend to be most used and effective for fields where there is a lot of competition for places and your CV really needs to stand out from the crowd: PR, advertising, management consultancy, the media, events management and similar fields.
What is the difference between a personal statement and a covering letter?
A profile is a short introduction to your CV, whereas a covering letter is a one page letter going into much more detail about why you are suitable for a specific job and organisation. There will inevitably be some overlap in content, so try to write any similar content using different words (use a thesaurus) and from a slightly different perspective.
Because your profile will be on all your CVs, you normally just mention the particular job sector you are applying for jobs in (e.g. publishing). A covering letter is normally used to apply for a specific advertised vacancy and so will focus on a particular job (e.g. editorial assistant in a particular publishing company). Sometimes you may send out a speculative covering letter with your CV and here the focus will be broad, just like in the profile, as you don’t know which jobs might be available.
- State the JOB SECTOR you’re applying for e.g. publishing
- Summarise your strengths.
- When you’re available to start
Covering Letter Content
- State the JOB you’re applying for e.g. editorial assistant.
- Where you found out about it (advert in The Guardian newspaper etc. – organisations like to know which of their advertising sources are being successful)
- When you’re available to start work (and end if it’s a placement)
- Why you’re interested in that type of work
- Why the company attracts you (if it’s a small company say you prefer to work for a small friendly organisation!)
- Summarise your strengths and how they might be an advantage to the organisation.
- Relate your skills to the job.
- Mention any dates that you won’t be available for interview
- Thank the employer and say you look forward to hearing from them soon.
What if I have no idea of what job I wish to go in to?
In this case it might be better not to include a profile. An unfocused profile is worse than none at all. However, a carefully worded summary of your key strengths and attributes will enhance your CV.
How long should it be and where do you put it?
- No longer than 6 or 7 lines. It must be short and positive with your key strengths, skills, experience and interests.
The time to elaborate and give evidence for these is later in the CV.
- Place it at the start of the CV. Recently I’ve seen some CVs with the statement half way through the CV or at the end. This seems to defeat the object, which is to give a concise introduction to your aims and skills.
- Start with a short description: “A highly motivated graduate who has just completed a Law degree at the University of Kent”
- When badly written, they are vague with sweeping generic statements: “I have good teamworking and communication skills” sends selectors to sleep as it appears so regularly.
Use a Thesaurus or see our Skills Map for better words to use!
Learn to use action words to brighten up the content.
- Analyse your core strengths. A profile is a sales tool: a concise summary of why they should take you, so you should include brief details of your major selling points, especially those that are important in the job you are applying to.
- CVs sent to recruitment agencies can benefit from a statement as a covering letter may become detached. Some agencies send you for unsuitable jobs and a career aim can help to prevent this. However the career aim here needs to be fairly broad or you may get submitted for few vacancies.
Buzzwords make you sound like just another faceless candidate, a plastic applicant with no real personality who just cuts and pastes from other people’s CVs. According to a survey by LinkedIn here are the top 10 overused buzzwords used in LinkedIn Profiles in the USA in 2021:
1. Extensive experience
6. Proven track record
7. Team player
9. Problem solver