CV Boost! Selling Yourself in the Third Person

‘’Selling Yourself in the Third Person’’

After graduating from university, you soon realize that you can no longer avoid the ‘’adulting world’’. This starts with massively updating and improving your dreaded GCSE-aged CV that your Y11 form tutor helped you write. Realizing how much you have achieved since this time in your life makes you wonder how you can possibly fit everything on just two pages, and what tone sharing this experience should take. Although there is no ‘’right’’ way to write your CV, some key advice I would like to pass on from professional career advisors who helped me land an internship at the UN in regards to tone, is when and where to use ‘’I’’ pronouns.

Essentially, don’t.

At the top of your CV, you should include a small paragraph titled ‘’Professional Profile’’, approximately 4 lines long. This paragraph should be in the third person. Yes, talking about yourself in the third person can, at, first, sound slightly cringey, but you are basically trying to include a review of yourself as if written by someone else to show you are highly recommendable, as if you were a movie review! Here is an example:

‘’A hardworking, passionate and skilled recent Upper-Second Class Honors Bachelors graduate from a Top 10 UK University...’’

Within the first sentence of describing yourself, you have the opportunity to captivate and impress the employer by listing some of your desired qualities. In this particular example, the words ‘’hardworking’’, ‘’passionate’’ and ‘’skilled’’ say a lot about your character. Mentioning your degree result not only is impressive, but it also backs up the positive attributes you have just listed. As a bonus, mentioning how reputable your university is can be a deal-breaker. Employees often search for graduates from the best universities for obvious reasons but if your university doesn’t particularly rank high in the overall league table, maybe brag about how good your department is! For example:

‘’A recent LLM graduate from one of the UK’s top law schools...’’

As I said, the way I imagine it, is to think about movie reviews from media outlets and movie critics, ‘’a gripping drama featuring Academy-Award winning actress Angelina Jolie’’, you are essentially the actress, or Angelina Jolie if you’d like, your degree is the award, the academy is the university / department, the audience is the employer, film adjectives are equivalent to your skills and qualities, and getting the audience to view the film is like encouraging the employer to hire you.

After writing your professional profile, you will then come onto writing about your relevant work experience. Again, it is advised to use the third person here. When discussing your skills and achievements, you should use sentence structures that place an active word at the beginning. Following this, you should provide evidence of how you did this and which skills you gained from this. This also enables you to briefly, yet succinctly, display your vast experience to the employer. Here is an example of how 6 years of experience can be summed up in a couple of bullet points, yet can say so much about you:

Debenhams Department Store (2010 – 2016) – Sales Associate

  • Exemplified excellent communication skills on a daily basis by carefully explaining to customers the item refund, tax refund and faulty item policies.

  • Managed a team of sales associates at weekends by clearly assigning them daily tasks such as stock control, item-by-item maintenance and fitting room control.

As you can see, the two bullet points above in the hypothetical CV start with a powerful doing word. They do not start with ‘’I exemplified’’ or ‘’I managed’’, it is in the third person as if someone is talking about you; this person ‘’exemplified this skill by doing this’’, this person ‘’managed a team by doing this’’. By using this structure, you can, as in these examples, demonstrate that you have excellent communication and managerial skills, and then you back these skills up with evidence showing you have knowledge of company policies and retail structures, and that you work well with the general public and colleagues, skills many employers may view as transferable.

Katie hopes you found her advice useful, and wishes you good luck with the job search!