How to refer to yourself in your CV

Always an interesting subject, how people refer to themselves in their CV – some opting to take the “I” approach, others opting for “We”, the third person approach and no pronoun. Let’s take a look at each approach and talk through the benefits and pitfalls when using them:

  • Using “I” – a common method, put in context this would usually be used like this:

“I was responsible for doing xxxx” or “I have a team of xx” – although you are keeping the emphasis on what you did it does tend to look unprofessional.

  • “We” – often we work in team environments and talk about our achievements in an inclusive context, however this can be very difficult for hiring managers and recruiters to really understand what your involvement was. Being vague can be very off putting and doesn’t tend to favour well on applications.
  • The third person – referring to yourself in the third person such as “John was engaged in xxxx”, this style can work but be careful of grammatical errors and confusion in the CV. Also I have had feedback in my recruitment days from clients feeling this line comes across as egotistical.
  • No pronoun – this is my choice of tactic for a CV, avoiding using any personal pronoun by making statements such as, “Managed the technical team on the xxx project to produce xxxx”

Here’s an example profile I have used previously in a blog, I have written it in all the above styles – which do you think works best?

Example 1; Using “I”

I am an experienced Programme Manager with accreditations to back my practice (APMP & MSP). I have overall programme responsibility for corporate wide initiatives; I lead a team of 10 project managers and I also have hands on experience of managing multiple concurrent strategic projects increasing a business’ ability to achieve its goals. I have good exposure to interfacing with all levels of management and cross functionally within the organisation.   

Example 2; Using “We”

As an experienced Programme Manager with accreditations to back up the practice (APMP & MSP) and with overall programme responsibility for our corporate wide initiatives. We lead a team of 10 project managers and we boast hands on experience of managing multiple concurrent strategic projects increasing our business’ ability to achieve its goals.  We have good exposure to interfacing with all levels of management and cross functionally within the organisation.   

Example 3; using the third person

John Smith is an experienced Programme Manager with accreditations to back up his practice (APMP & MSP). John has overall programme responsibility for corporate wide initiatives; leading a team of 10 project managers and hands on experience of managing multiple concurrent strategic projects increasing a business’ ability to achieve its goals.  John also boasts good exposure to interfacing with all levels of management and cross functionally within the organisation.  

Example 4; using no pronoun

An experienced Programme Manager with accreditations to back up the practice (APMP & MSP). Overall programme responsibility for corporate wide initiatives; leading a team of 10 project managers and hands on experience of managing multiple concurrent strategic projects increasing a business’ ability to achieve its goals.  Good exposure to interfacing with all levels of management and cross functionally within the organisation.   

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