The opening statement goes by a number of names – profile, personal statement, career summary – but ultimately it’s all about one thing: lending your CV that extra impact to get you closer to the finishing line. Think of your profile as the salt in your bolognese, highlighting all of the best bits and pulling everything together into one tasty, bite size chunk.
Basically, the opening statement is your elevator pitch. It’s your chance to sell yourself in no more than 100 words to leave a recruiter wanting to read on and take your application seriously. So, pretty important! But don’t panic, we’re here to guide you through some foolproof ways to make your profile stand out for the best reasons.
It’s all about you
While it might seem like a bizarre task to talk about yourself (and many people struggle with it, so you’re not alone) – all you need to focus on is developing a concise introduction to who you are, what your career aims are and what you’ll bring to the table. Try and jot down a few bullet points that would answer these fundamental questions first. That way you’ll know the points you want to make before you start crafting full sentences.
Short and sweet
The main challenge of an effective personal statement is to pack as much useful information in there without rambling. The general guide is to keep your statement under 100 words, or fewer than five lines at the very beginning of your CV. Make sure you break your sentences up so it’s not one long paragraph. When it comes to person and tense, there are no hard and fast rules, just be consistent. So if you start in the first person, stay in it!
Make it relevant
Always think about what is being asked of you as a prospective candidate in the job description. This is the first clue about the kind of language you need to be using in your opening statement. If you echo the language of the job description then not only will you be highlighting your relevant skills, you will be speaking to your prospective employer in terms that they understand and want to hear. It seems fairly obvious, but get straight to the point. The purpose of the statement is to provide a concise introduction to you, so keep it punchy.
If you’re concerned about the flow of your statement then a simple but powerful trick is to read what you’ve written aloud. That way you’ll get a feel for the rhythm of your statement and you can establish whether it flows naturally. This will also give you a chance to assess if your profile is an appropriate length. If it feels or sounds like you’re rambling then that’s a good signal that you need to go back and edit!
Space on your CV is at a premium. You don’t have an awful lot of room to make an immediate, positive impact. While it may seem time consuming to labour over a couple of sentences at the start of your CV, don’t let the relative shortness of the opening summary fool you. Don’t waste valuable space by beginning with generic statements and clichés. Put in that extra bit of effort for something that will really encourage the recruiter to read on.