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Smash Your CV Summary!

By Simon on

Writing 5 – 7 lines that surmise you and your most prominent skills and expertise is not easy.  However, the opening summary/profile on your CV or Linkedin page is very important, so it’s worth spending a bit of time to get it right. Take it seriously and be sure to give it everything you’ve got because it can make a huge difference.

What do you put in or leave out is normally the case, but it’s best to highlight your prominent skills, ideally aligned to the job you have applied to or industry you’d be keen to join. It’s the part that can separate you from the masses and it’s the bit you have the most control over. Curated correctly it can win over hearts and minds. Imagine yourself and one other candidate have a similar set of skills and qualifications – a concise and impactful summary can give you an edge and secure you an interview, first.

Many overlook the importance of a decent summary but, it’s the first part someone will read to get a handle on who you are, so it can make a critical difference. The start needs to be what you are, such as a Marketing Executive or Content Writer, followed by the length of your experience, sectors covered, and maybe your academic journey – depending on how far into your career you are and the role you’re applying to. This gives the reader an immediate insight into what you are and capable of.  The next part needs to be 2 to 3 lines of your key skills and expertise, such as, in-depth knowledge of CRM, email, content curation, SEO, PPC etc. This showcases your ability and core skills and illustrates your passion for your chosen field of expertise. It’s also important to get a handle on the job and industry you have applied to – there is nothing worse than reading a summary that has nothing to do with the role. You can then tail it off with your career objectives and maybe a bit of insight into who you are, but nothing too heavy.

This may sound obvious but whatever you do, don’t exaggerate or put down things you haven’t done – we’re all a bit prone to getting ahead of ourselves but, a summary is not the place to let the imagination go wild. Also, stick the thesaurus to one side. Don’t name drop either – you may have an illustrious career or academic record behind you but, you need to reflect on what it’s taught you and the experiences you have gained.

A potential employer will want to see evidence of your commitment to the role and industry in which they operate. The most common fault is where a summary hasn’t bothered to build up any evidence of interest to the role or an employer’s profession / industry.  There must be a certain amount of correlation, so it shows to the employer you’re serious and committed and have thought about your application. Given the opportunity, you can also back up your CV with a sweet, short, and concise covering email. Getting this right can significantly increase your chances of securing you first bite of the cherry.

An employer does not want to see a long list of superfluous adjectives such as organised, confident conscientious etc, etc… you are better off not mentioning them at all as they mean very little. It is what you can say about your experiences that matters most.

Getting started is the tricky part, so our words of advice are to ignore the opening line until you have the bulk of your more prominent skills sorted and polished. You will have to work at this because it’s the killer bit. This may take a bit of refining, letting your ideas settle into a flourishing statement, figuring what skills you truly possess and their relationship to the role and industry you have applied to. Common pitfalls to avoid include a long list of worthless adjectives, generic statements, or clichés, and most people don’t have time for flowery language, either.

Less is more when it comes to personal statements so pay very close attention to grammar, spelling, and punctuation. You may want to curate a few drafts and get someone else to check it before you hit send on the keyboard.

Most important, don’t be tempted to nick someone else’s – it needs to be authentic, personal, packed with your prominent skills, and most importantly it needs to be yours.

If you need support with your CV, contact us!