Describe yourself well enough and the hiring manager will snap you up!

It's never easy describing yourself, is it? How do you choose the right words? Would your friends and family choose the same ones? Which words will make the right impression on recruiters? 

It's a minefield out there, but we've got you covered. In this article, we'll explore what kind of words you should use to describe yourself on a CV, give some suggestions, and remind you of a few words you definitely DON'T want to use. We've even got plenty of examples to illustrate how you can describe yourself without worrying about the cringe factor. 

Why using the right words to describe yourself on your CV is important 

Usually, your CV is the first impression you'll make on a recruiter or hiring manager. And you know what they say about first impressions - you don't get a second chance to make one! That's why your CV needs to describe you accurately and persuasively, rather than oversell or undersell you. Choosing the right words to describe yourself is, no doubt, tricky, but spending a bit of time on this can have a great impact on how you're perceived. 

Let's take a look at how you can choose the best words to describe YOU. 

What kind of words are best to describe yourself on your CV?

The Oxford English Dictionary currently lists 500,000 entries, but the average CV is only two pages long. So, you're going to need to narrow down your choices to select the ones that will set you apart as an individual and a professional within the context of your CV. These categories may help: 


One of the very best ways to find words to describe yourself on your CV is to scour the job advert for keywords. Highlight those words within the advert that apply to you and try to integrate them naturally into your narrative. 


While excessive adjectives aren't to be advised, choosing some to describe yourself can help to bring a bit of personality to your CV. Try asking around among friends, family, and colleagues to see how they'd describe you and note any recurring words and phrases. 

20 adjectives to describe yourself on your CV

Your CV should be unique to you, but to get you started, here are some in-demand attributes that you can use as inspiration for describing yourself on your CV: 

  • Innovative

  • Personable

  • Flexible

  • Ambitious 

  • Approachable 

  • Detail-oriented 

  • Creative

  • Pioneering 

  • Confident 

  • Driven 

  • Authoritative 

  • Influential 

  • Inclusive

  • Diplomatic

  • Patient

  • Methodical 

  • Supportive

  • Respectful

  • Open-minded 

  • Analytical  

Power verbs

Starting every bullet or sentence of your CV with a power verb is a great way of describing yourself in a concise and impactful way. They enable you to show clearly that you have the aptitude for the job. For example, saying you “Led and motivated a team” enables you to describe your leadership skills and experience far more persuasively than saying “I was Team Lead.” 

20 power verbs to describe yourself on your CV

  • Led

  • Empowered

  • Expanded

  • Reduced

  • Spearheaded

  • Delivered

  • Exceeded

  • Won

  • Directed

  • Executed

  • Designed

  • Established

  • Introduced

  • Boosted

  • Transformed

  • Maximised

  • Saved

  • Restructured

  • Shaped

  • Streamlined

Top tip: Every word you choose must be true and accurate - dishonesty on a CV is never OK. 

How to describe yourself on a CV in the Profile section 

As the first section of your CV, the profile is a great place to describe yourself. This is your elevator pitch, your personal introduction, so you should describe yourself in such a way that the reader can immediately see how you align with the exact requirements of the vacancy. Take a look at these examples of how to describe yourself in the Profile section for inspiration: 

How to describe yourself on a CV with no experience 

An animal lover working towards a Level 3 qualification in Animal Management, with significant animal care experience. Confident handling a wide range of animals, particularly horses, cats and chickens, using initiative to fully meet their needs. Willing to work outside in all weathers and keen to secure a part-time role in the animal care sector. 

How to describe yourself on a CV for Freshers and Students 

A knowledgeable undergraduate student, specialising in HR and business analysis. Combines a natural flair for identifying operational problems with the ability to recommend solutions. Communicates professionally across cultures and is sensitive to diversity issues. Consistently achieves deadlines through meticulous planning and a proactive approach. 

How to describe yourself on a CV for Customer Service Assistants

An approachable and customer-focused Customer Service Assistant, with an extensive knowledge of the railway network and a commitment to providing helpful, accurate information. Confident handling delays, cancellations, and security and takes a calm, professional approach to resolving incidents and complaints. Communicates articulately with colleagues and customers alike to quickly build rapport. Prioritises customer welfare and satisfaction. 

How to describe yourself on a CV for Nurses

A respected and patient Mental Health Nurse, combining experience in both hospital and community settings. Recognised as a sought-after student mentor, with significant leadership experience. Takes an innovative and patient-centred approach to delivering clinical excellence. Nurtures positive relationships with patients, families and multidisciplinary professionals alike. Able to manage ambiguity and possesses a comprehensive understanding of diverse clinical services, service users and stakeholders.

How to describe yourself on a CV for Sales Executives 

An ambitious and driven Sales Executive, with a natural aptitude for building rapport with business clients and developing long-term relationships. Communicates articulately with key decision makers to source, negotiate, and close deals. Proactively seeks out new opportunities, gaining an in-depth understanding of client businesses in order to sell products aligned with their needs.  

How to describe yourself on a CV for hospitality roles 

A multilingual professional with an extensive background in the travel and hospitality industries. Confident leading small teams to achieve business growth and committed to delivering first-class customer service, communicating effectively and professionally with customers from all backgrounds. Highly organised, with the ability to plan and prioritise conflicting demands on time to consistently achieve deadlines. A fast learner who is keen to take on new challenges and pursue training and development opportunities.

How to describe yourself on a CV for Accountants 

A qualified Accountant, with extensive leadership and management experience across multiple sectors. Focused on simplifying systems, implementing robust controls, and improving processes. Possesses expertise in compliance, audit, analysis, reporting, P&L, acquisitions, risk management, and project management. Recognised as an extrovert and engaging leader, who builds positive relationships with colleagues, clients, and suppliers alike. Adapts quickly to new industries and cultures

How to describe yourself on a CV for Administrators

A flexible and loyal Administrator, with the high levels of organisation necessary to manage complex schedules and achieve even the most demanding deadlines. Interacts professionally with customers to deliver exceptional service, whilst ensuring discretion and confidentiality. Financially astute and confident leading small teams. 

How to describe yourself on a CV in the Professional Experience section 

Having made a positive impact in the Profile section, you'll want to keep that going as you describe your professional experience. The best way to do this is to “sell, not tell.” Describe yourself by using impact statements - they're a humble brag enabling you to show off your best qualities without sounding arrogant. If you can quantify your impact, that makes the CV even stronger. 

Take a look at these example bullet points to see how you can describe yourself while explaining your career: 

Describing your skills in project management:

  • Handed over 12 complex projects on schedule and created a full delivery plan and handover documents to ensure successful and timely completion of 3 further projects

  • Successfully integrated a new business into the existing organisation during the pandemic, with no disruption to business as usual, including incorporating 100 staff plus applications across 25 locations

Describing your skills in financial management:

  • Turned a 6-figure deficit into a surplus by identifying new income streams and reducing salary costs

  • Achieved multi-million-pound cost savings by designing and building an Azure cloud platform providing public cloud resources

Describing your skills in team leadership:

  • Built the communications team from scratch and provided training and skills development opportunities to enable the team to build links across the community 

  • Supervised and coached teams of up to 10 staff and provided a safe environment for all

Describing your skills in customer service:

  • Patiently communicated with and advised confused and lost passengers, despite significant language barriers

  • Built a loyal customer base, due to award-winning customer service and a 5* rating on review sites

Describing your skills in organisation:

  • Played a key role in organising the society's first-ever Winter Ball for 130 attendees, delivering within budget and selling out to achieve a profit 

  • Consistently achieved strict publication deadlines 

Tailor your CV to the job

Of course, there's no one-size-fits-all description here. There's not even a one-size-fits-YOU “about me” template. The needs of every vacancy will be different, so it's important to tailor your CV to each role. That means that, even when you think you've written the perfect CV that describes you to a tee, you'll still need to tweak it and make small adjustments to ensure that it accurately – and honestly – reflects the requirements of the role, the company, and the industry. 

Words to avoid when describing yourself on a CV

Now you know how to describe yourself on a CV, let's take a moment to find out what NOT to do. There are some words that just have no place on a CV. Avoid committing these faux pas: 


You either sound quite old, or like a piece of steak. This is quite a divisive word for those reasons and most CV Writers will advise you to avoid it. 


Being hardworking is the least that can be expected of you. It's also a word that pops up frequently on the most junior of CVs and has become a bit of a CV cliche. Try to find a more dynamic word to use instead. “Reliable” and “enthusiastic” also fall into this category. 


Everyone is experienced, whether they've been doing something for a day or a decade. When you're describing yourself on your CV, aim for precise over generic every time. 


Even if you love your job and the people you work with and serve, passionate probably isn't the right word here. It's overused on CVs and, in most of those instances, it's not very credible. 

Responsible for

Saying that you're “responsible for” something describes your job, not you. You can almost certainly delete these two words with no detrimental effect on your sentence. Ditch the tedium and, rather than listing your responsibilities, show off your impact and achievements instead. 

Key takeaways

To recap, these are the main points to remember when you're wondering how to describe yourself on a CV: 

  • Use a few adjectives and plenty of powerful verbs

  • Align your vocabulary with the requirements in the job advert

  • Make sure you're honest but unique

  • Tailor the CV to every role you apply for 

  • Avoid overused words and CV cliches

Harness the power of words 

By now, you know how to describe yourself on your CV and have some pointers on how to make your personal sales document truly reflect who you are and what you can do. 

If you'd like some professional input before you apply for that role, why not send your CV for a free CV review? With expert advice on areas for improvement, it will give you the confidence that you're presenting the very best version of yourself to a prospective employer. 

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