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Why you shouldn't use the '3rd person' on your resume or LinkedIn

May 22, 2017 by Lucy Singleton

I've been super busy over the past few months, but one question that keeps popping up is...

"but doesn't the third person make me sound more senior/more professional?"

No. It most definitely does not.

The third person has its place, and a very important one; in Bio's. Bio's are a great way to quickly summarise your achievements and key credentials.

Typical uses could be:

  • if you're a guest speaker;
  • if you've written a book;
  • if you are providing commentary for an article;
  • on a website.

The voice is intended to be that of the person who is introducing you, even if it's common place to supply the content yourself.

But on a resume or a LinkedIn profile the "voice" is your own which is why 3rd person isn't a great choice.

A third person approach implies things like: I did not write this myself; I am not comfortable writing about myself; or I feel I look more important this way.

A resume is no place for "third person" because it's polarising.

A resume is an up-to-date summary of your Professional Experience. It's a genre with its own quirks, but some of the key success factors are authenticity, accuracy, conciseness and relevance.

Your job is to demonstrate that you have the right skills and experience to match the roles you are applying for and to make them want to meet you. Cultural fit is a large part of what they are looking for.

This is where the tense comes in. If they don't like the first impression, they probably won't read on. If they don't read on you won't make the shortlist.

Here's some tips:

  • Keep sentences snappy, but use language that represents you.
  • Where relevant (eg the intro sentences) Use the 'first person' tense but selectively avoid pronouns. (I/he/she)
  • When highlighting specific achievements- start with a verb, support with facts/metrics and keep the list tight.
  • Remember the reader: it's about what's in it for them.


An intro Paragraph:

1. 3rd person: what not to do..

Mike has more than 10 years experience and is highly skilled in both product development and team leadership. He can be relied upon to drive exceptional results,

(1st person)

With more than 10 years specialist experience in product development, I am known for my ability to lead strong teams and deliver exceptional launch programmes that exceed targets.

In the context of a resume, the second version feels more authentic.

And for the rest of the resume...

The good news is that for the bulk of the resume, you don't need pronouns at all, or even full sentences.

e.g -Managed launch campaign which drove strong trial and was adopted by 3 global markets.

A LinkedIn summary is like a job interview.

LinkedIn is most commonly used as a recruitment database. Or, for consultants it's a place where potential clients will go to find out more about you. People can check you out at the click of a button and draw their own conclusions.

LinkedIn is a place to introduce yourself and tell your story. It's like a "coffee meeting" that you're not actually invited to. That's why you're so much more effective if you use your own voice.

Many people seem to think that LinkedIn is a place to sound as impressive as you can. It's no surprise that profiles in the 'third person' are common, Bio's can be impressive. But they can also give a more negative first impression- one of self promotion or not being approachable.

The key is to sell yourself as you would if you met someone in person.

Our tips:

  • Be authentic and bring yourself to life.
  • Lose the business language and talk as you talk.
  • Thoughtstarters: Who are you? What do you do? Why do you enjoy it? What are a few professional highlights?
  • At the end add a short, high-level summary of skills and experience.

You never know what opportunities may be around the corner!

If you'd like help or advice we'd love to help.

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