Is your profile summary… a horoscope?

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Is your profile summary… a horoscope?

What can your profile summary have in common with a horoscope? The question might seem absurd, but, as it turns out, the answer is: “quite a lot.” Profile summaries are a difficult subject – people know (more or less) how to create a CV, but when it comes to writing a profile summary, they are often left confused. Should they use 1st or 3rd person? Should they keep it strictly simple? Should they stick to business language or try to be creative? The list of queries could go on and on.

We can distinguish five general types of profile summaries. Which one is yours?

Universal guidelines for creating a profile summary

Before delving deeper into the differences between each type of a profile summary, let’s acknowledge the factors that are universal and apply to every single one of them. There are, indeed, several “golden guidelines” that you need to abide by when writing your profile summary. Here are the three most important things to remember:

1) “The uniqueness test”

Let’s say a professional in the same (or a similar) role as yours sees your profile summary (e.g. on LinkedIn) and says, “Wow, I like it. I’ll use it.” That person then copy-pastes your text into their own CV or LinkedIn profile and starts using it with a few or no minor changes. If something like that could easily happen to you, it means your summary is not specific / unique enough. It’s too generic, and therefore – easy to disregard.

2) Profiling for the target

Who should find your profile convincing? What aspects of your professional experience are relevant to them? In that target group context: what else is worth addressing upfront that otherwise could raise unnecessary red flags or questions?

Why is that so important? Some profile summaries are either general summaries with no target / intent at all OR are summaries written for peers or subordinates rather than the real decision makers. By profiling your summary for your target group, you get the edge over other candidates.

3) Trailer to a movie

A profile summary is like a trailer to a movie: it’s made up of scenes that you’ll be able to see in full later, so that you can decide whether it’s worth watching. The profile summary serves the same purpose and follows the same logic. We recommend writing your profile summary at the very end of the CV creation process, once the content is finalized, so that fragments of it can be used in the profile summary.

Depending on the level of detail, but also on how “talkative” the candidate is during conversations, it’s recommended to shorten or slightly (but not entirely) adapt these fragments. In the end, your summary should reflect your personality in a way.


Five types of profile summaries

With the above three rules in mind, let’s now have a look at the five types of profile summaries. Identifying your style of writing a summary will allow you to adjust it properly.

Type 1: Key areas with evidence

Clear-cut and direct. This type of profile summary starts with an introductory sentence that includes the name of the targeted role, followed by 2-3 most relevant areas of expertise that are backed by 3-4 bullet points with evidence for each area.

Type 2: Professional bio

Descriptive and professional. This profile summary is a fully written bio, similar to those used to describe global board members or partners in international law firms.

Type 3: Unique storyline

Visual and particular. This is essentially profile summary Type 1 preceded by a unique storyline (e.g.: “Ever since XXX was a kid, s/he was obsessed with building sandcastles – now s/he is the CEO of XXX, a construction company.” OR: “Being a former professional rugby player turned coach, s/he abides by the same methodical principles as a Project Manager”).

Type 4: Bio with proof

Detailed and convincing. This profile summary is a combination of Type 1 and Type 2 profile summaries – purposefully structured to address and stress something specific that is of note to the target group.

Type 5: Horoscope

Generic and imprecise. The most common type of profile summaries, “the horoscope” category: general and generic enough that similar professionals can identify themselves with it (see: “The uniqueness test”). This is naturally the type that requires the most adjustments.


Examples

Here are some examples. As you’ll see – further combinations of the above types are possible!

 

Example 1

What brings a girl who grew up in the Brazilian Jungle to Change Management projects in EMEA?

From a philosophical perspective, the answer is “the ability to adapt and venture outside one’s comfort zone.” The professional path Sarah took was: from self-taught programmer to System Engineering student in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to IT Project Manager for Latin America which led her to pursue a career and an MBA in Europe. “The programming community has taught me that everything is possible.”

Company X hired her in 2015 for a major Change Management project to improve operational excellence. In 2020, Sarah joined Company Y in Belgium to support their clients as a Technical Leader for Transformation projects with an international team of 20. That same year, Sarah enrolled in the ABC Business School to complete her MBA in Digital Transformation.

Example 2

Board Member & Head of Legal Department:

– geographical scope: Spain and Spanish-speaking countries in Latin America
– languages: English, Spanish
– practice areas & expertise: contract, public procurement, corporate, compliance
– keynote speaker, published book author

Highlights include:

– lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Integer sagittis cursus
– velit eget vehicula. Fusce malesuada eros sit amet massa volutpat, id euismod
– enim vestibulum. Vivamus condimentum imperdiet lectus ut fermentum. Interdum
– et malesuada fames ac ante ipsum primis in faucibus. Phasellus est est

Example 3

Experienced Manufacturing Manager / Management Engineer with an international track record:

Operations & Supply Chain Management:

– Awarded Best Plant from 2016-2020 thanks to an 82% increase in turnover, 94% OTD
– Reduced transformation costs by 6%; improved OEE and optimised Customer Satisfaction
– Et malesuada fames ac ante ipsum primis in faucibus. Phasellus est est

Change Management:

– Coordinated three business re-engineering projects in China
– Identified key areas for improvement based on KPIs and introduced Lean Manufacturing tools, incl. Kanban, VSM, 5S, TPM, 0 defects, SMED
– Developed launch of a new line, based on just-in-time methodology in Asia

People Management & Coaching:

– Led international cross-functional teams of 500+ FTEs in EMEA
– velit eget vehicula. Fusce malesuada eros sit amet massa volutpat, id euismod
– enim vestibulum. Vivamus condimentum imperdiet lectus ut fermentum. Interdum

Perfecting your profile summary

Now that you know your profile summary type – what’s next? Maybe, while reading this article, you have come to realize that your profile summary needs some fine-tuning? Whether you decide to make some changes now or in the future, always remember: “specificity sells”. Concrete examples demonstrate your competence!


Are you a manager or executive with at least 10 years of experience? Would you like to discuss your profile summary or professional situation in general?

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