Your opening statement must immediately convince the reader to keep reading. The Summary statement gathers the best elements of your resume – your abilities, skills, experience, accomplishments, and personal characteristics – and condenses them into a brief description of the best reasons for hiring you. Your Summary is your initial sales pitch to a prospective employer, appears at the top of your resume, conveys the scope of your experience and background, and indicates to the reader your key strengths and areas of expertise. This section should be brief, yet powerful, and should quantify your most impressive qualifications and achievements.
It is important to convey the best reasons for hiring you at the top of your resume to make a strong first impression. A Summary statement quickly communicates to the reader who you are, summarizes your greatest strengths and convinces a hiring manager to keep reading your resume. This is also your opportunity to combine and summarize the overall experience that you’ve acquired over a period of years from a number of different positions. Gather the best of your skills, abilities, experience, accomplishments, education, credentials and personal characteristics from your entire career and condense them into a concise, impactful statement that describes the professional you. Your summary should convey the top three to five qualifications that define you as an exceptional performer in your field – someone that stands out from the crowd – and summarize the most impressive reasons why you are qualified.
When to Use a Summary
Expert opinions vary when determining whether to use an Objective or Summary as the opening statement in a resume. In general, recent graduates and entry-level job seekers use an Objective Statement because it helps them define and communicate the position they are seeking. However, seasoned professional and executives use a Summary Statement that clearly defines their career field through an effective demonstration of previous career highlights.
What Should Be Included
A Summary provides the reader with a synopsis of your career experience within your field or industry and lists the best reasons why you are qualified for the position. Consider the number of years you have dedicated to your career and review the skills and abilities that will be required of your future position. Reinforce your Summary with important capabilities and accomplishments that would be relevant to your future job and consider the personal characteristics that are critical to success in your career. Finally, be sure to include any required qualifications such as certificates, licenses, or degrees.
Insider Tip: A Summary is the best of the best. It is not essential to list all of your accomplishments in the beginning, just those that will be most impressive to your future employer. It’s a good strategy to reinforce additional accomplishments throughout your resume that can be discussed in greater detail at the interview.
How to Get the Information
Before writing your Summary, consider who will read your resume (a prospective employer) and decide the story you want to tell. A Summary statement, if written properly, should be the only section of your resume that your future employer needs to read in order to invite you for an interview. The following are some questions that will help you develop the story or sales pitch that summarizes your significant career achievements.
- How many years of experience do you have in your career or industry?
- What areas of expertise make you stand out from your competition?
- Why are you particularly qualified for this position?
- What awards or special recognition have you earned in your career?
- What were some of the positive comments that your previous employer mentioned in your past performance reviews?
- How have you increased the quality of your company’s products or services?
- Can you indicate in measurable terms how you have either increased revenue or decreased costs for a previous employer?
- How do you compare to others in similar positions?
- What specific knowledge or unique experience do you possess?
- What are your greatest strengths and assets?
- What are your most significant accomplishments and achievements?
- Have you ever received an award, certificate or commendation from any group?
- If you are a recent graduate, have you received any academic awards or scholarships?
How to Write Your Summary
A good strategy for writing your Summary statement is to do so last. First, complete each of the other sections of your resume and then review your three to five most impressive qualifications. Then compose an impactful summary statement of your most notable qualifications.
The phrases in your Summary should be clear, concise, powerful and direct. Rather than dress up your skills with decorative language such as “excellent,” “dynamic,” or “aggressive,” let your accomplishments and qualifications speak for themselves.
Evaluate and measure the results of your achievements and write achievement statements in measurable terms. Consider upgrading your existing resume phrases and job descriptions to more powerful statements that measure your results and demonstrate your success:
Public Relations specialist with excellent written and communications skills
Five years experience as a Public Relations specialist. Composed 16 press releases under tight deadlines, each achieving top-tier placement in major publications. Effectively positioned the company image during a successful merger.
Consider combining your job Objective and Summary statements together into one powerful statement about you at the beginning of your resume. This allows you to include the best of both an Objective statement and Summary statement at the top of your resume, while making a strong impression to the reader about your career achievements.
Marketing Executive / Vice President of Marketing / Senior Brand Manager
Sixteen years experience as a senior marketing executive. Established five new, best-selling brands in the consumer electronics industry in less than three years. Able to coordinate the efforts of many to meet organizational goals. Decision-maker with the spirit of creativity, stability and dedication.
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