How to write a career profile

A career profile is like the description found on the back of a wine bottle. For example you may see on the back your favourite red something like: Rich flavours of plum and cherry with hints of cinnamon, vanilla and aged oak with soft, fine tannins.

This is a short description capturing the essential qualities of the wine.

A career profile is similar in that it is a short description capturing your essential skills, experience, personal qualities, and how they will add value in the job of interest.

Career profiles are usually placed near the top of your resume, under personal details, on the front page so it is one of the first things and employer reads.

It is not always essential to use a career profile on your resume. Where it can be useful is when you wish to change careers, explain your background so it makes sense to the reader, or make a tailored pitch for a role.

Key points to consider when writing your career profile:

  • Keep it short, 4 to 6 lines.
  • Tailor it to the job you are applying for.
  • Stick to the essentials, you don’t need to cover everything.
  • Be specific rather than vague. For example good communication skills is general and vague. Effective presentation skills is more specific, particularly if the role involves making presentations.
  • State relevant past achievements that show what you have done for employers.
  • If relevant, state why you are interested in the role.
  • Use a combination of sentences and phrases.
  • Don’t include generic skills employers take for granted e.g. good problem solving skills. Rather think about what aspects of problem solving are required in the job.
  • Write in the third person, although some career profiles are written in the first person.
  • Write it last after you have written your application so you have an overview of the case you are making for the job.

Here are four steps you can take to write an effective career profile.

Step one: research and analyse the job

In order to write a tailored career profile you need to understand the objectives of the organisation and of the work area where the job of interest is located. You also need to understand the essential skills and experience needed, critical knowledge, key people you would work with, expected results. This information will enable you to select Relevant information and pitch to what is most important in the role.

Step two: select relevant personal information

From your portfolio of skills, subject knowledge, experience, personal qualities, and strengths, identify the information that is most relevant to the role.

Step three: craft your career profile

Write a short career profile that outlines your relevant portfolio details and if appropriate, how these will add value organisation or how they are linked to your career goal. Two key questions here are how will your background help the organisation solve its problems and why are you interested in this role?

Step four: edit

Make sure your career profile is consistently written, and is free of spelling and grammatical errors.

Here are some examples to illustrate the point.

Respected leader with 10 years management experience fostering highly effective teams that deliver results aligned with business objectives. Strengths in stakeholder management, financial management, and regulatory compliance. Expertise in strategic data analysis. Track record in complex financial analysis, providing sound, timely advice aligned with strategic goals.

Results focused team leader with team management experience across a range of fields including hospitality, retailing and sports administration. Adept at building staff capacity and maintaining strong client relationships, backed by qualifications in commerce and law. In ensuring quality customer service while maintaining procedures and policies. Known for problem solving and improving practice.

Qualified project manager with over 12 years experience managing complex IT projects. Track record in delivering projects on time and on budget that meet client needs. Strengths in establishing project briefs, client liaison, user uptake, staff training. Effective in managing geographically dispersed staff.

Dr Ann Villiers, career coach, writer and author, is Australia’s only Mental Nutritionist specialising in mind and language practices that help people build flexible thinking, confident speaking and quality connections with people.