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I've noticed that a lot of CVs contain a segment that looks something like:

I have fast learning skills, out-of-the-box thinking, high motivation, loyalty and dedication. I am a hard worker and a team player and intend to put in a lot of hard work.

I've noticed some people put those 'personal qualities' segments at the very top of a CV below the name/phone number part. Unlike cover letters (which I tend to read after the initial filtering) I don't understand those segments.

  • Is there any merit in including those segments in a CV?
  • Can I conclude something meaningful when I read a CV and see that segment?
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marked as duplicate by gnat, Jan Doggen, Jim G., ReallyTiredOfThisGame, keshlam Sep 1 at 3:05

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I'm not sure I have ever bothered to read more than about 3 words of a section like that. I usually just skip to the work history. –  Chris Lively Aug 29 at 22:53
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Can any recruiters comment on whether they grep CVs for "motivated", "hard worker", "team player", "highly analytical" etc etc? My guess is people grep for skills like "C#", "Java" etc. –  Nathan Cooper Aug 30 at 10:52

4 Answers 4

Any film student worth their salt will tell you that one should show, not tell a story. Including these qualities at the top of a CV is like a billboard proclaiming "Our Best Yet!" - no evidence is provided beyond a dubious claim.

Their resume, CV and cover letter should show you that they learn fast and are loyal, through rapid advancement and persevering through hard times. Claiming them at the top is at best redundant and at worst flagrantly disrespecting a reviewer's time.

Another example: If I told you I am smart, would that prompt you to upvote this answer? No? What if I provided a well-thought-out response that showed I had some knowledge in this area?

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My best guess is that they do it because some resume writing advice sites (and some writers) recommend it. I know that up until recently, I had a section like that on there too. It used to be common to have one (at least in Canada).

The accepted opinion has been moving away from this now, and many sites say to have an overview of who you are at the top. Kind of an introduction.

To back this theory up, check out any random resume sample in this list of Monster's Resume Samples and you'll see what I mean.

You can still see it being advised to include a resume profile of some sort on the about careers site.

So, I don't think you can jump to any conclusions other than that they tried to make a good resume and followed advice as seen online.

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Should personal qualities be included information in a resume? No. A resume should detail the applicant's experience, not his/her personal qualities.

It may be desirable to highlight certain personality traits in a resume, but that can be done much more effectively by carefully wording the entries related to work experience. For example, let's say you want to transition from team lead to development manager. Which of these better shows leadership?

Lead developer/designer for ASP.NET and MVC applications.

or

Led an international team that successfully designed and developed several complex, business-critical ASP.NET and MVC applications.

Everything in a resume should leverage personal experience to show that the person is a great candidate for exactly the type of job that they want. Anything else is useless fluff that dilutes the real message. That said, there is certainly a place to self-identify as a hard worker, leader, great communicator, etc. That place is the cover letter, not the resume.

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Most importantly, it tells you that they think those characteristics are important or impressive (although perhaps only indirectly, in that they think you think they're important for this role). You might be able to conclude more from the fact that someone thinks loyalty is worth mentioning here, than you can from their belief (or claim) that they're loyal!

It doesn't tell you that they actually possess the characteristics to any remarkable degree. Especially something completely vague like "out-of-the-box thinking". You might read that and figure that all of your candidates think out of the box, not just this one, but some of them would call it "having a good idea".

As for whether there's any merit in it -- if its a CV posted online, then it makes a lot of sense to have some kind of summary up top indicating what kind of jobs you're looking for, why you want them, and what basic attitude you bring. This kind of "personal qualities" stuff often creeps in there. If it's a CV submitted for a particular application with a cover letter, then it probably repeats stuff from the cover letter, although it might still be a worthwhile summary of why they're good for the role. You could view it as a reading comprehension test, "has the candidate accurately identified and summarized what the role calls for?".

Ideally it's backed up by relevant experience, in which case it serves as a sort of abstract of the result the author wishes to prove in this paper, but that's not always practical. If you believe yourself to be unusually loyal it might be quite easy to present examples of this, but quite difficult to put those examples in your CV, which operates well above the level of specific incidents in which you demonstrated loyalty. Therefore this statement in the CV is (intentionally or otherwise) bait. It might induce you to ask at interview a question that the candidate has (you'd think) prepared for. Of course, if you cared about loyalty then you'd be asking all candidates about loyalty, and if you don't care about loyalty why waste interview time drawing a rehearsed answer? So you can argue it's complete pointless as far as that goes, except that I suspect in practice it does occasionally prompt an interviewer to talk about something they otherwise wouldn't, just like the also-controversial "hobbies" section.

It would seem to me irrational to ignore this information in a CV, if you would pay attention to exactly the same thing written in a cover letter (I'm not sure if you're saying you actually do that not). Unless you're extremely busy and have clear instructions written in whatever process they went through to submit the application, it's pretty much nonsense to punish applicants because they don't follow your conventions of what goes where.

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