Standing Out: Opening Statement for my CV

You have your name staring back at you, your address, your email address and your telephone number (will address why this shouldn’t be here in a later article). What goes next?

In my humble opinion, your opening statement is the most important aspect of your CV. It occupies the prime real estate of your CV. Its your opportunity to differentiate yourself, draw attention to what makes you who you are and to offer some guidance to the reader on where you would like to go looking forward. The general guideline from superstar career coaches I see online is usually a maximum of 4 sentences, however be creative and do as you see fit!

I’ve seen some excellent opening statements that define character, skills and future aspirations, and I’ve seen generic repetitive, and in some cases, lazy writing. The opening statement is the first way you can be filtered out of the process if you have over 500 applicants for the same position.

General Tips

  • Clear, concise and consolidated – no need to ramble, show you know what your key strengths are. You can mention some key achievements you’re particularly proud of (the more relevant for the position you are applying to, the better) and you can show you know where you want to go with your career.
  • If you’ve worked for similar businesses to the role you’re applying for, it does no harm to mention that here…! It draws the attention, subconsciously indicates relevant experience and can get the reader to skip on down to that name on your CV to see what you did there.
  • If you haven’t, don’t worry, you can instead give your reader an insight into a synopsis of the experience you have had and why its relevant, or how quickly you can learn new skills.

Future Ambitions – Its great to show the reader that you’re looking for your next position to be part of a career plan. My participant today wanted to work in Data Analytics or Data Science without having any prior experience in that area, however with transferrable skills.

  • If you’re applying for a role in a new area, this is your opportunity to showcase why your skills are relevant and why you want to move into this industry (Hint: what interests you about it, what do you hope to gain or achieve in this area, why this area specifically).
  • If you’re applying for a role which is a step up, highlight some of the skills you’ve gained and warrant that step up – these could be having to manage, new responsibilities, presentations to senior staff or milestones you may have reached (“having 5 years experience in…).
  • Don’t be afraid to show your ambition, after all this is a new role and as with any change, you need to make sure where your going is the right place. If your future employer doesn’t like ambition, it may not be the right move for you anyway.

Skill sets – Identifying the transferrable skills you have can be tough, and this requires truly understanding what are the most important skills you have that you can bring to the table.

  • Conduct a thorough search on the industry and role you are applying for (please see a follow on article as to why mass applying is no good for anyone) and you should know exactly what you need in your arsenal before you take the leap
  • Don’t just reel off skill sets, instead show how you applied them to previous employers problems and how the skill set and application became the solution.
  • This is tough for every candidate to stomach, however stands out more than any skill set for me – understanding your weaknesses. Noone’s perfect, and early on broaching how you have overcome your weakness to expand your abilities is key to growth in any walk of life.

Cheat Sheet:

  1. Many people have 3 / 5 / 10 CV’s, the opening statement is a great way to easily adapt your CV to the position your applying to.
  2. Get an ex colleague to read your draft and tell if it really sums you up, there may be a skill you have you don’t realise
  3. Use a thesaurus