10 CV Profile Tips to Help Career Changers
Growing up, one of my heroes was Mr Benn.
A bowler-hatted Englishman, who'd visit a costume shop to wear different outfits.
Stepping out of the changing room he took on a new life that suited his costume.
Mr Benn may have been a two-dimensional children's cartoon character, but regular career changes are increasingly common. Many people could have five different careers in their lifetime.
When you change careers, a strong profile for your CV is a must-have.
So I want to share some CV profile tips for career changers to help you.
What's the Purpose of a Profile?
I think of your CV as like a film of your career.
So, your profile is the trailer.
This small snippet of your CV has the power to persuade the reviewer that you've got what they're looking for.
It's the first impression a reviewer has about you.
And you know what they say about first impressions?
A strong profile will put the reviewer in a positive mind. So, they'll look for evidence that you're the right person for this role.
You want it to draw the reviewer into reading the rest of your CV. Rather than putting them off in the first few seconds.
Why is a Profile Hard to Write?
You know how important a profile is. So, why is it so hard to write one?
1. We Feel Self-Conscious
We're not used to writing about ourselves. At least not in a document that will be sent to people we don't know.
That self-conscious feeling you have? It's very common.
Only the most extroverted people feel comfortable writing about themselves without any feelings of self-consciousness.
2. We Don't Practice
How often do you ride a unicycle?
Unless you work in a circus it's unlikely to be a regular thing for you.
Writing a profile for your CV isn't something you do every day either.
It's not impossible to do. But it does take practice. And with practice, it gets easier.
Go easy on yourself.
3. Writing about Yourself Without Using 'I'
It's a bit weird, isn't it?
Writing about yourself as another person.
It's hard enough to write about yourself but even harder to do it without saying 'I did this ...' or 'I did that ...'.
An out of body writing experience does feel a bit icky.
The challenges to writing a profile may feel scary, but they can be overcome.
So, time to look at how to write your profile.
CV Profile Tips to Help Career Changers
1. Write it Last
Turn your CV on its head.
The profile might be the first section of your CV. But you don't have to write it first.
If we get stuck on the profile then the other parts of our CV won't be written.
And, as you'll see in a moment, you can use other parts of your CV to help write your profile.
2. Just Start Typing
Our first drafts are never perfect. That's why they're the first draft!
The key point is that we write on even when we're not happy with it.
Whatever words you write down will help your brain to start organising its thoughts.
Once you have some words on the page it becomes much easier to edit them. Your writing flow will improve and you'll feel more confident about your writing.
3. Mine the Rest of Your CV
If you followed 1. Write it Last, you'll already have a list of achievements in your CV's Career History.
Look through what you've written and pick out the best examples.
Copy these to a blank document and use them as ideas for your profile.
You can start using them word for word. But as you work on your profile you'll usually edit and reword them.
4. Use Previous Feedback
It can be a struggle to write about ourselves.
So why not use the words of other people?
I think untapped sources of inspiration are previous positive reviews, feedback or recommendations on LinkedIn.
What do people say are your strengths and greatest achievements?
Harvest your best comments and those which fit with the role you're applying for.
5. Write About You, But Not as You
Profiles, like the rest of your CV, are written in the third person e.g. Qualified Engineer with experience in multiple industries.
Writing in the third-person is like writing as an 'outsider looking in'.
Whilst this is not a common way to write, it does mean you can distance yourself and write more objectively.
It can also help you feel less self-conscious. We often find it easier to big up someone who isn't ourselves.
6. Focus on the Now
What can you do for me?
That's the question employers ask when they review CVs.
But to answer that, they want to know what you've already done. Rather than what you could do.
Employers are more impressed by statements about what you've achieved instead of what you might do in the future.
So use your profile to focus on the skills you have and how you've used them.
7. Avoid Cliches (Like the Plague!)
Whoever reads your profile will see dozens if not other hundreds of others.
So, if you sound like lots of other people will that make you memorable?
When we use cliches the danger is that the reviewer glazes over.
Rather than reading something new and interesting, they're reading the same old, same old. Their brain goes on autopilot.
Instead, be unique and memorable.
A great profile will help you stand out from other candidates.
8. Use the Active Voice
Which of these read better to you?
Effective relationships have been built with customers to resolve their business challenges.
Accomplished Sales Manager who builds effective relationships with customers to resolve their business challenges.
The second sentence is more energetic because it's written in the active voice.
Sentences written in the passive voice, like the first example, can sound sluggish and dull.
As well as what you write, it's also important to think about how it looks.
A long paragraph of dense text with no white space is unattractive, to say the least.
I'm a big believer in white space in the right place. Your profile is one of those places.
Write your profile as series of standalone sentences. Each provides a snippet of information about your experience, skills and achievements.
Use white space between each snippet to help it stand out. The reviewer will find this much easier to read.
10. Ask Someone Else to Read it
After you've written your profile you'll want to send your CV off straight away.
But plan some time in for someone else to read it.
A fresh pair of eyes will spot things that you don't see.
A friendly review can help provide the finishing touch to your profile.
Your CV profile is your first chance to impress an employer. But it can be difficult to write.
Before you start on your profile write the rest of your CV first. You can then use this for ideas, along with words that other people have written about you.
Focus on what you've done but write about yourself in the third person. To make your profile clear and interesting avoid using cliches or a passive voice.
Finally, check how you've formatted it and ask a friend to review if for you.
Are you a career changer? Which of the CV profile tips have you used? Share your experiences in the comments.