When considering a job applicant, a hiring manager will focus on a few key sections of their application. Rather than reading the CV and cover letter fully, they will skim through to extract the information they are looking for. If the candidate ticks all of the right boxes, they will go back for a more detailed look at the contents. If they’re still happy, they will then invite the candidate to an interview.
This is why the personal summary is so important. It gives you an opportunity to draw attention to the aspects of your CV and cover letter that you really want to shine. Writing a personal statement can be more challenging than any other aspect of your application.
With your CV, there are online CV creation tools to help you build a professional and polished CV. But the personal summary requires more planning and insight. It can be helpful to ask friends and family to help you craft your summary, as this will bring in details you may have overlooked.
In this guide, we will outline the purpose of the summary and why you need one. We’ve also asked the experts at Nolan Recruitment to share their insight into what makes a personal summary shine.
A summary provides an introduction to your CV. While the rest of your CV will outline your work and education history, the summary brings it all together so the hiring manager can get a better idea of who you are as an individual.
A summary may also be known as a personal statement or a personal profile. It’s your chance to summarise where you’ve been in your career and where you hope to go. It’s your elevator pitch and your chance to get a foot in the door.
A summary should be unique to every job you apply for, matching the key competencies of the role to your skills and ambitions. It may take a little more time to craft a unique personal statement for every role, but it can give your CV greater impact.
There are no rules about what needs to be included in your summary. It will typically be limited by length, so this will be your main consideration. You may choose to include three bullet points; one about your experience, one about your ambition, and one about your personal attributes. Alternatively, you could structure this as a paragraph.
What you include in your personal statement will vary depending on the stage of your career.
As we’ve mentioned above, the summary should be short. Ideally, it will be around 60-80 words and no longer than six lines. While it is an important part of your CV, it shouldn’t take up too much space. It should also be very easy to skim and pull out the most important information.
The bulk of your 2-page CV should be reserved for your work history, but your personal summary will typically take centre-stage on the first page. Many people structure their CV with their personal information followed by a summary, then follow this with their education history, work history, key skills and finally their references.
Writing a strong summary is not an easy task. It’s often the hardest part of your CV to get right. In a few short lines, you need to be able to summarise why you are perfect for a role. To achieve this, we recommend taking the following steps: