How to write a profile / summary for your CV that will grab the reader's attention

Let's face it, reading applications and CVs to create shortlist isn't the most exciting task an employer could be faced with. Add to that the fact that in today's competitive job market, there can be scores and even 100s of applicants for the choicest jobs, some with professional CVs.

This means that the average or poor CV will be speed-read or skimmed over at best. So what can you do to increase your chances of standing out in a welter of applications?

The answer is to write a captivating profile at the top of your CV, which will entice the employer to read on. The profile's job is to convince the reader that this applicant could be the one and that their CV deserves reading carefully. In essence, the profile is a 'boiled down' version of a covering letter, but which doesn't make specific references to the vacancy in question.

If this makes writing a profile sound like a job for a Nobel prize-winning author, take heart: it's not as difficult as it sounds - professional CV services have to do this all the time. It's possible to break it down into three areas which you can then link together with a few useful phrases.

First, start with your past experience. Forget about the detail for now, as that comes later in your CV. It's usually possible to identify one to three areas within which all your experience falls. You can kick off your profile with the following kind of phrase: "With 10 years' experience in marketing and customer service ", adapting this to suit your own background. Try not to be too exacting about sub-divisions of work areas unless it's really relevant to this application.

Next, pinpoint some key skills and abilities. This will focus the employer's attention on a couple more reasons why you could be right for their job. To return to our example, you could highlight abilities such as "customer-facing and administration skills".

With your background established, you can now state what you're looking for and where you'd like to go in the future. Don't worry if you haven't a clear idea of this - you can still construct a goal that sounds right for the kind of jobs you're applying for. For example, "seeking to develop my career in the field of retail marketing".

Now that you have the bare bones of your profile, it's time to add a little flesh. This is what adds the sense of who you are as a person and really persuades the employer to read on. Think of a few adjectives that will strengthen the message, without going over the top. You can even add a little about how you think you could benefit the employer. So now, your profile might look like this: "With 10 years' solid experience in marketing and customer service, along with strong customer facing and administration skills. Now seeking to respond to new challenges and contribute to effective marketing of your organisation in the retail sector."

Not so hard, is it? If you give it some careful thought, and tweak it now and then to suit the different jobs you apply for, your profile will make you sound organised, self-aware and excellent at communication. In short, it's the spark that sets your CV alight!

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