The Difference Between a Profile and a CV

So the notion that a Profile is a different thing to a CV might not seem that important – in fact, we’re as guilty as any of using the terms almost interchangeably – but in actual fact, understanding the difference is a fundamental part of Jobseeking 101.

In the past we’ve often argued that a CV should never be static. It should be an organic, always changing, often re-invented tool designed to explain how you can solve the problems of each and every different person who reads it.

Occasionally, people talk to us about their CV strategy, we tell them about their CV not being a static thing, how it’s never finished and how completely re-writing it for specific roles is a much more effective strategy than the “tailoring” approach prescribed by many (which is really just paying lip service to the whole concept, most of the time). We tell them that and they say right, but I want to put my CV on the internet. I want to put it on LinkedIn. I want to stick it in a CV database. How are you supposed to do that in constantly-changing CV land?

Our answer to that is – we think – quite simple. You’re talking about a Profile, not a CV. A profile is a version of your CV, designed – just like every other incarnation of you CV – for a particular purpose and a particular audience.

Failing to understand this distinction leads to the inevitable: you take a version of your CV you wrote once – maybe, if we’re really lucky – one you prepared specifically for a job, and put it on the internet. And you wait for the phone to ring, or the e-mails to come in.

And you wait. And wait….

We distinguish a profile from a CV because unlike every other CV you’ll write, you’re Profile probably won’t change much. It will be static. You can’t change it every time someone new comes along to look at it. But yet your Profile is fundamentally just a version of your CV. Confused? Let’s try and explain:

CV Profile
  • Is never static: it changes (or is re-invented) each and every time it is delivered to the viewer. It is specifically prepared to explain to the reader what you’ve delivered and how you’ve delivered it, in a context relevant to the reader.
  • Is written with the audience in mind: be that the hiring manager, recruiter, HR representative etc
  • Should be focussed on how you’ve solved problems, and the value you’ve delivered to organisations in similar roles and situations to the one the reader is looking to fill.
  • Should be specific and relevant.


  • Is static, doesn’t change and is specifically prepared to ensure that it is discovered (i.e.found) and that when it is found, it is seen to be relevant to the kind of role you are looking for.Is written with the audience in mind (this is important, as you may choose to use a different version on the web, where it is more likely to be seen by hiring managers/HR than in closed CV databases which are more likely to be used by recruiters.
  • Should be focussed on what you can do, the skills you have and the companies and fields you’ve worked in.  Remember, people searching databases tend to be looking for job titles, hard skills, industries, education and locations – not soft skills, deliverables and value (although you absolutely should not ignore these…just don’t focus on them)
  • Should be broad enough to appeal to many, but sharp enough to stand out.

A great profile is one which is found often and appealing enough to the majority of people who find it to encourage them that you are a good potential candidate for the opening they are looking to fill. In some industries (particularly in situations where the skills/experience you have are in short supply), this is relatively easy. In others, this is virtually impossible. Over the coming weeks we’ll write a little more on the art and the science of a great profile, but in the meantime…if you’ve invested time and effort in creating and distributing a Profile in some sort or another and you’re not getting the attention you want – take some time to think about why that might be.

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