Should You Put a Personal Statement on Your Résumé?
by Shane Christopher
A few years ago, as I sat in a college classroom watching classmates prepare to interview for jobs, I wondered why the interview was even necessary? Blame it on the heavy academic influence, or blame it on the confidence borne from tackling a tough major at a respected university, but my thought was that all of us were essentially clones of each other. We all had worked at some menial job during college, and most had done some sort of internship. Aside from a difference in grades, we were all “inexperienced kids with engineering degrees.” In my novice 21-year-old opinion, any company wanting to hire that “profile” should be able to do so sight unseen, without an interview.
Later, when I left the Navy, those thoughts came back to me. Just as an actor is typecast, right or wrong, I was a “JMO (junior military officer) with an MBA.” Your typical “Army NCO,” “Navy nuke” or “Marine infantryman” is typecast as well. And the military, with its uniformity of dress, rank, etiquette and operating procedures, exaggerates that kind of profiling. But people aren’t commodities and hiring companies don’t have the same cultures.
That “JMO with an MBA” in my case was much more than that. While my experience and education level may have been similar to those with my profile, my personality was very different. And determining how any personality fits with the hiring company’s culture is why interviewing is so essential.
That is also why a personal blurb on your résumé is important. Your personal blurb should paint a picture of you, the person, to your potential employer.
Why a personal blurb? Of course, your new employer wants to be sure you’ve got the professional ability to add value to the company. But don’t think that’s all that matters. They must like you, and you should like them. After all, they will spend 40 to 50 hours per week with you.
Another advantage of a personal blurb is that it provides an ice breaker during the interview. It may be a basis for something you have in common with the interviewer.
Some experts warn that a personal blurb can send an unintended non-professional message about you that, if inconsistent with what the company is looking for, may eliminate you from consideration. In simpler terms, if you love to golf but your interviewer thinks of golf as an incredible waste of five hours for lazy people, the blurb may hurt your chances. I tend to think that you probably wouldn’t work well together anyway, so it’s better to get these things out before possibly working together.
Personal blurbs should be just long enough to paint a picture of you. Generally speaking, keep them to one or two sentences. Most businesses value good community relations, so mention your local affiliations. Refrain from citing political or religious connections as they could be potentially controversial with your employer. Place the blurb at the end of the résumé and label it “Personal.”
Remember: The interview is where your personality really emerges, but if your résumé fails to set you apart as an individual, you may not even get to the interview. Take a look at the following examples.
Good Personal Blurb
Member of the Centreville Rotary and Elkwood Economic Development Council.
Bad Personal Blurb
56-year-old avid hunter and life member of the NRA.