Most people don’t find writing their own CV an easy or particularly enjoyable task. Everyone has a view on how they should be done, though, and you only have to look on the internet to see the numbers of different opinions on how to structure the document, such as how long it should be or whether or not to include a photo (you shouldn’t!).

Typically, people no longer put their date of birth, marital status or if they have a driving licence on their CVs, and I agree that these are not relevant. However, personal profiles and interests remain on most. But do they get read and if they do, then what value to do they actually have?

Personal profiles

I have worked in recruitment for many years and have to admit that unless specifically asked to do so, I rarely read a personal profile on anyone’s CV.

I asked my colleagues at Totum and their responses were mixed but a number were like me. It is the content of the CV that interests me, it tells me where someone has worked, what they have done and achieved throughout the career.

All too often personal profiles look exactly the same and could have been copied from any number of other applicants, or from the internet. Most or all of the following appear in so many personal profiles: highly motivated, conscientious, experienced, a strong team player but able to work independently, a strong communicator, proactive, great relationship building skills, able to cope with pressure, the ability to multi-task and be flexible. It goes on.

I would much rather see these things evidenced in the body of the CV, rather than a list of attributes we would frankly all use to sell ourselves without the substance behind to qualify them.

If you do choose to write a personal profile for your CV then ensure you have written one that is tailored specifically to the particular role you are applying for. Keep it brief, well structured and relate it to actual achievements. Good ones stand out, and I would like to see more that do.

Interests

Interests, on the other hand, I do read, as do the rest of the consultants at Totum. They bring the person to life, they offer the opportunity for candidates to say something about who they are and show some personality. Although the majority of people aren’t extreme sports fanatics, most can find something to write other than the normal reading, eating out and going to the gym.

If these are interests you want to include then think about how to make them less forgettable – for example, is there a particular genre of book you are interested in? Interests can be an opportunity to illustrate skills such as leadership, teamwork, communication and creativity.

What you write in your interests section will rarely be the deciding factor in a short-list process, but in an industry where personality and cultural fit play such a significant part, they are relevant and something you should take time to consider. I know some people find it hard to know what to include and make the decision to leave them off. Although this is better than making something up you do lose the opportunity to connect on a personal level both initially and at the interview.

If you decide to include both or either sections on your CV, think carefully about what you are writing. They can play a part in building a bigger picture about the person behind the CV, and speaking as someone who reads so many, you can tell when someone has made the effort.

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