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Build your CV’s personal profile to get an edge in the sustainability jobs market

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Everyone knows that a compelling CV is crucial for effective job seeking. But what will set yours apart from the hundreds of others landing on the sustainability or HR manager’s desk?

Let’s start at the beginning.

Your personal profile or statement at the top of your CV is the first place an employer will look for a summary of why you could be a “hot candidate”.  Does yours say something like, “I’m a former project manager with excellent people skills and organisational abilities and a strong passion for sustainability. Having spent ten years in telecoms, I have a thorough knowledge of the sector, and am committed to using my experience to further the sustainability agenda”?

If it does, it’s time to hit delete.

A personal profile should contain four sentences, minimal jargon and zero pronouns. Follow my tips below for a concise, clear, communicative statement that tells the reader who you are, what you’ve done, and where you’re going.

First sentence:

  • Give yourself a ‘descriptive title’.

The market is buying your work experience, so put that first. It can be aspirational. Say your title was ‘Events Planner’, and you organised events for CR conferences.   Now you want to be in marketing and communications within a CR team.  You can put in your profile ‘CR Marketing Associate’, because it does descriptively reflect what you’ve done, who you are and where you’re going next.

  • Next look at the total years of experience.

So, ‘CR Marketing Associate with 5 years’ experience’ doing what?

  • Then drill down on the issues.

What is your knowledge of specific sustainability issues? Environmental? Community investment? Supply chain? Human rights?

This brings us to: ‘CR Marketing Associate with 5 years’ experience communicating human rights and youth issues at a global level within the private sector.’

Second Sentence:

  • Define yourself with your skills.

What are they? Can you match them up with the job description? Make sure that they’re relevant, you can back them up and they summarise what you’ve done. Don’t be tempted to include an ‘I’, and certainly never speak in the third person!  Think like a headline writer: maximise the space with keywords, and forget about the rest.

‘Diverse kills in communications, event planning, and cause related marketing.’

  • Then zone in on the sector.

Give me more info on what you know, who you know and what scale your old company was operating at.

‘Diverse skills in communications, event planning, and cause related marketing for a global telecoms company.’

Third Sentence:

  • What’s your Unique Selling Point?

Make it clear what sets you apart as a candidate for this job. Have you worked abroad? Speak languages? Recently graduated? Published articles?

‘MSc in Sustainable Marketing and fluent in French.’

Fourth Sentence:

  • Identify your objectives.

Let your audience know where you’re going and make sure it matches where the hiring manager needs you to go. Make sure that you’re not saying ‘My objective is to gain skills and experience working for an exciting company’, i.e. you the hiring manager are going to need to help me build skills’.  That hiring manager is buying something from you! Not the other way around. So let them know in your objective what you’re going to be selling or leveraging to help them achieve their goals.

So more like, ‘Objective is to leverage marketing and communications skills to help a XXX (ex. leading PR) firm build a more robust internal and external engagement programme’.

(NB the XXX should refer specifically to the company, eg ‘a market-leading multinational’.)

Adding all this up, we get a dynamic personal profile:

‘CR Marketing Associate with 5 years’ experience communicating human rights and youth issues at a global level within the private sector.  Diverse skills in communications, event planning, and cause related marketing for a global telecoms and retail companies.  MSc in Sustainable Marketing and fluent in French.  Objective is to leverage marketing and communications skills to help a leading PR firm communicate to stakeholders the impacts of its sustainability programme.’

Compare the profile above with the profile below.

‘I’m a former project manager with excellent people skills and organisational abilities and a strong passion for sustainability. Having spent ten years in telecoms, I have a thorough knowledge of the sector and am committed to using my experience to further the sustainability agenda.  I am a fluent French speaker and recently completed a part-time MSc in Sustainable Marketing.’

Who would you hire?

Shannon Houde

About the Author

Shannon Houde, MBA, is founder of Walk of Life Consulting, the first international career coaching business focused solely on the environmental, sustainability and Corporate Responsibility (CR) fields.

Read more about Shannon's credentials →

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