With apologies to Mark Twain, “I didn’t have time to write a short profile so wrote a long one instead”.

CVWhat is a CV? Of course all of us know, or do we? The expression CV perhaps doesn’t help because in some ways it obscures it’s true purpose and inclines us to say things about ourselves without thinking about what we are trying to achieve. It’s a sales brochure.

The personal statement/profile that many CV’s begin with is perhaps the most difficult part and often results in a paragraph that is neither personal nor convincing but is merely a list of ‘keywords’ taken from the Lego box of management buzzwords. I must have seen hundreds probably thousands of CV’s that claim to come from somebody who is ‘committed’, ‘enthusiastic’, ‘hard working’, ‘passionate’ or a multitude of other meaningless words.

I’ve often encouraged people to be wary of adjectives where you would not say the opposite. There is no purpose to them except to fill that frightening and empty sheet of white paper with words that feel positive. But can you imagine applying for a role and saying, “Committed – not me”, or “You need to understand I lack enthusiasm and could never be accused of working hard”, “Passion – I never show that in office hours”.

Sometimes I’ve gently asked people to read their personal profile’s out. How uncomfortable would you be sitting in front of an interviewer and saying, ‘I’m hard working, enthusiastic and committed”. Very uncomfortable more than likely and I presume I am not alone in being unimpressed with people who consistently try to impress me.

If that’s the case though how do you stand out from the crowd? Or do you need to? At this stage it should be your objective to be selected for interview and that is more likely to happen if you think about who is going to read your profile and what they wish to see?

Try to avoid sounding like everybody else and remember the most often quoted rule of of writing, which is show, don’t tell: “To convince someone your funny you don’t say ‘I’m funny’ you tell them a joke.”

You may wish to outline the environment in which you have gained your experience and any notable achievements you have gained during that time. It may be worth highlighting any professional qualifications or specialist knowledge you have gained.

Keep asking yourself, “So what and says who?”. Remember it is a summary and only highlight those features that can be supported by further reading of your CV and keep Mark Twain in mind.


Who am I? A chap living in Nottingham, United Kingdom who perhaps has a much higher level of enthusiasm than ability leading to an interest in many things but mastery of none. A father of three no longer dependent children, or so they tell me, and husband to a one-time nurse who now works with me (or rather I work for). I attempt to take photographs and occasionally fluke half decent shots though thank goodness I no longer have to buy film. I endeavour to practice karate but with advancing years spend more time instructing them participating but actively participate in the more gentle tai chi. Professionally I have spent the last twenty years in recruitment – not always the most highly regarded ‘industry’. For my part I take great pleasure in helping companies to find the right people and a lot of satisfaction out of seeing them thrive and succeed. More recently I have spent a lot of time helping people who have, or fear they may, lose their jobs. For many putting a CV together is so difficult and then finding opportuniteis can be a major challenge. Interviews can be a different problem altogether but with a little help most people can perform a lot better than they otherwise would.

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