"You never get a second chance to make your first impression." Of course we do not get another chance 'unless the recipient of our communication allows' us to do so.
We have been able to understand that it is only the communicative competence that wins attention. All our communications have been done to draw attention in order to accomplish the three objectives of Communication: 1. To Inform 2. to Persuade 3. Entertain. When we relate the requirements of the contemporary world to communication skills, we realize that expressing oneself is crucial. How do we present ourselves to the world around us will decide what the world thinks of us!
To know the significance of Profile Writing (Personal or of Others), we need to understand a literary concept about characterization. E.M. Forster (1927) distinguishes between flat characters and round characters in his famous work- Aspects of the Novel. He says that a Flat Character can be presented in one sentence such as 'Mr. Verma has been an integral part of this team since 2007.' The speaker of this sentence has expressed whatever is intended and there is no further connotation present or even intended. Flat characters, as the name suggests, are not multi-dimensional and one can easily recognise when they are first introduced. Such profiles leave a possibility of expansion, but they remain stationary.
On the other hand, a round character by contrast carries further dimensions to their personality and presence. These supplementary features of the profile are revealed with the passage of time and as they are asked for. It is interesting to note that a flat character never impresses or surprises us with their skills, experience, behaviour, but a round character may well convince us with these 'earned aspects' of their expertise, skills, associations, activities etc. Even if events never require these characters to extend themselves, they nevertheless have the capacity. (StorySight, 2001)
A Profile demands the same discipline as we need to create a portrait or to click a photograph following the standard 'Rule of Thirds'. A profile story is like a portrait of a person in words. 'Like the best painted portraits, the best profiles capture the character, spirit and style of their subjects.' (Journalism Education, 2010) We are asked to do Profile Writing at:
- Journalistic Profile Writing/Profiles in Magazines or Papers etc. by a contributing writer or Journalist
- Profile in the form of a Resume/CV for Job Selection Process
- Internships/training related Applications need Profile/Resume/CV
- Scholarship Applications are to be supplemented with Profile
- Letter of Recommendation for Admissions into Higher Studies or Selections in Jobs
- Biographical Writing for someone else/Content Writing Tasks
- Online Profile Creation- Short Descriptions on the Social Networking platforms like LinkedIn etc.
Most of the above services that Profile Writing Skills do to us, seem like drafting a reply to the most basic question of 'Introduction' to others - Introduce Yourself? And here comes the panic stricken face who wants to vent out everything which is recalled on that moment. However, it is not to be done-if you tend to do so, I am sure that a 'successful failure' awaits you. A good Profile should be able to provide the following (excerpts from alaska[dot]edu):
- Keeping an eye on the Purpose of Profile Writing, give insight about Who You Are-
- They show us who you are, how you think?
- How you decide to act (or not act) upon something?
- How you approach a problem or dilemma?
- How you interact with your environment?
A journalistic Profile- called a Profile Story or Feature on someone- is written with elaborate intentions. A few days back, US President Obama wrote a Profile based feature in the Time Magazine for Indian PM Modi and praised his life as an allegory of Indian dynamism. In the same manner, many a times, we speak or write about someone who is well-established in public or some other domain.
Profile Writing for Scholarships/Admissions: Remember that you are not writing it for your friends who know you already! It is prepared for someone who wants to see how much assertive you are about highlighting your goodness. This is about demonstrating the skills, experience, education, participation, activities, associations, interests, hobbies, likes/dislikes, observations, awareness, knowledge, level of independent thinking, leadership skills, presentation skills, social concern etc. Above all 'Ensure that you relate everything to the 'Purpose'. We need to customise the content, depending on the place, position and preferences of the reader or listener.
While working on a Statement of Purpose letter to the institution you aspire to join:
• Describe activities you are involved in that relate to your educational plan or the career you want to achieve • Describe a scholastic achievement/s you have made, and why it is important to you • Describe contributions you have made to your community and/or campus and explain how those experiences have contributed to your personal growth • Pick an experience from your own life and explain how it has influenced your development • Where do you see yourself after completing the proposed course (Vision about your professional goals) • Do not forget to 'align' with the vision-mission of the institution
Apart from the written profile creation, Online Profile Creation enjoys an equally important status. And it is quite evident these days that we fail at it. We prove the appropriateness of an old saying - 'what is easy to see;that is easy to miss!' We treat Online Reputation as a child's play and it is our error of judgement, in fact a fatal error. The difference between the Profile for the 'Specified Receiver' and Online Profile is that in the later one, out audience is not decided by us. We leave it to public scrutiny and are prone to all sorts of examination and criticism.
In both the cases- Offline and Online- we need to keep in mind that Accuracy is the key to being expressive. Be it the grammar or the tenses, be it the words or the syntax, we need to be precisely focused. Follow the Four Rule formula:
- Don't Lie! The moment you trespass your territory, you are gone!
- Focus on Your Strengths that Relate to the Reader/Listener's Requirements and mentioned Criteria.
- Don't give Generic Statements; Write Details and explain how an incident/experience made you develop or learn a particular skill.
- Proofread the Content with utmost care and concern. Spelling errors are what you really need to avoid.
P.S. Note: Remember that Consistency is the key to establish your style of writing a profile or any work of writing. Consistency in Terms and Consistency in Rules (Grammar) must be a ritual that you follow holistically.