Your Professional Resume Summary -
Difficult - But Very Rewarding
Professional Resume Summary -
The Most Difficult Section Of Your Resume
The Professional Resume Summary section of your resume is going to be the hardest part of how to make a resume.
While it is the hardest to write, if written well, it may well be the most important. In it, you will summarize for a potential employer the assets and contributions you bring to an organization. You will tell him exactly why he needs you in his organization.
This is the section of your resume where you clearly and emphatically state your claims, where you "toot your own horn."
This is the attention-grabbing capsule designed to intrigue a potential employer into checking out the evidence you include in other sections of the resume.
Design Your Professional Resume Summary To
Fulfill Your Resume's Most Important Task
Design it to attract, entice and link the reader to your evidence - give them an invitation to read further and discover what you have done and the potential for contributions you can make to the organization.
- Write it to make a light bulb go off in the reader's mind to say, "I need to talk with her/him."
- Entice your reader to further investigation.
- Bait your hook and begin the whole process.
Begin with this section as your outline and make it the last section to which you apply final changes.
The material you have compiled from your career self-analysis and from the target organizations needs makes up the raw material for your summary.
Review everything you have, and prioritize what to include in your resume. Once your material is prioritized, begin an initial summary.
This draft summary will serve as an outline of the sections and content you will include in your final document.
Focus the reader's attention on the highlights of your history that make you the best candidate for the position.
Design Your Professional Resume Summary
To Meet The Hiring Manager's Needs
The professional resume summary approach places the hiring manager's needs first by giving him an overview of what you can do for his company. He can thus quickly assess whether or not he should give your resume further consideration.
Your professional resume summary thus establishes your claims quickly and efficiently. Tie it to the remainder of your resume, which is the evidence of your claims.
Your Professional Resume Summary
Becomes Your Professional Identity
This professional resume summary describes your professional identity and becomes the basis of your personal brand. You must feature your very best, most important and most relevant highlights that qualify you for the position you seek. Do not list details here,
- only headlines
that grab the reader
by the throat and compel her to investigate further
You can also call this section a
- qualifications summary
- impact statement
- skills summary or
- professional preparation
A qualifications summary is most valuable for someone whose background is not an obvious match for the position. It is also just as valuable for professionals or executives with diverse histories. A well-written summary connects the dots
that a reviewer might otherwise miss.
The Content Of Your
Professional Resume Summary
The content and structure of the professional resume summary is your funnel into the remaining parts of your resume.
Establish How You Identify Yourself
When you write your summary statement, you will want to identify what you do or have done. Find a term or two that will encapsulate the broad general overview of the profession or job area that applies best to you.
- The industry in which you have an interest
- A way you conceive of yourself - something like a personal brand
- What is it you want to be known for?
- What is your mission?
- What do you want to contribute to the organization?
- What is it that makes you the best candidate for this position?
- What are your greatest assets that are also this position's demands?
- Are you a neurologist or an orthopaedic surgeon?
- An architect or draftsman?
- A tailor or seamstress?
- An office manager, secretary, receptionist or clerk?
- An attorney or a Para-legal?
- A power equipment operator or a truck driver?
Check out the Occupational Outlook Handbook
if you need help determining the key terms that best describe your work.
Identify Your Service Length
You will also want to identify the length, breath and depth of your experience. Some people have held the same position for twenty years.
Others, while they have been in the same company or industry for the same length of time, have broadened their profile by gaining diverse experiences within the same basic field.
When you identify the length of time you have spent in the field, you want to clarify
- whether or not your time has been progressive, gaining valuable insights with diverse and progressive responsibilities or
- whether you simply have 20 years experience tightening the fourth bolt on a sub assembly in a factory.
By the same token, your 20 years at the same position may have implications as to the depth of specialized knowledge
in a very specific, demanding and rare technology. So, the 20 years may accomplish 20 years of experience or one year of experience 20 times...
Identify Your Major Accomplishments
While you need to identify the time factor, you also need to identify how you have used that time.
- What have you done?
- What have you learned?
- What have you accomplished in those 20 years?
- What skills have you added to your repertoire?
- What difference have you made in this industry?
- What are the major contributions you have made to your company?
- Has your service been unremarkable, or have you received a Nobel Prize for your work?
- Have there been any rewards or special mentions you have received?
- Are you regarded as an expert in your field?
- Are there any honors that have accumulated to you by your peers, superiors or the industry in general?
- What is it that makes you a particularly outstanding candidate for this position?
- What do you bring to this position that nobody else can?
- Do you have computer or technical skills?
- Do you speak, read or write a foreign language?
- Are you a leader?
- Are you a self-starter who needs little or no supervision?
- Are you able to handle multi-tasking environments and complex assignments?
- How are you with people?
- How often do you have to be re-directed to "clean up details"?
- Do you have a broad view of the place your job fits into the organization? or
- Are you simply there to fulfill your job description and go home?
Identify Your Outstanding Strengths
What strengths do you bring to this position?
- Are you of particularly strong moral character?
- Especially dependable (zero absences in 12 years)?
- Are you a creative genius?
- Have you had a set of unusual experiences that uniquely qualify you for this position?
- What affiliations do you bring to the table?
- Are you an officer in your local, regional or national organization?
- Have you worked for employers with high name recognition?
Identify Outstanding Aspects of Your Education
Identify your education, especially if your education is near the top of your field or is in some other way noteworthy.
- Do you have an advanced degree?
- Is your degree from a nationally ranked school?
- Are you certified to perform some industry standard operation?
- Do you have a license to perform your duties?
Identify What The EMPLOYER Is Seeking
Identify the core requirements of the job you want. This can be gleaned from the job posting or advertisement.
If those are not available, contact the employer's human resources department and get a copy of the job description. Failing that, talk with people who hold or have held this job to learn what it requires.
Identify the aspects of your assets that meet and/or exceed the job's requirements. Dovetail the employer's needs with your assets. Use the same terms the employer uses.
Your Professional Resume Summary
Is The Best Repository For Your Keywords
Stuff your summary with appropriate keywords.
The best place to find those keywords is from the job listing itself. That will specify what the employer is seeking.
You can also go to the library and check out current trade papers that discuss the type of position you want.
An excellent source of keywords is the Occupational Outlook Handbook, published as either hard copy available from most libraries or online at the US Department of Labor Site.
Another common practice is to talk with people who are doing the job you want to do. Let them help you identify what they understand as the key aspects of the position.
Yet another way to get keywords for your professional resume summary is to visit web sites. Here you can
- Google up similar ads from competing employers
- look at web sites from the same industry
- go to sites for the trade associations aligned with your industry
more carefully targeting the ones most closely aligned with the position you seek.
Keep this part of your summary very succinct and to the point. Eliminate any fluff... Stick to the facts, but use them to make your claim. It is this accumulation of facts that adds to your gravitas.
Key your summary to the rest of your document. Everything else in the document is evidence of the claims of what you bring to the company.
The Toughest Part -
What Do I LEAVE OUT???
You have now collected everything you need to write the entire Professional Resume Summary, collected what the employer is seeking. Now comes the toughest part of the entire process.
What can you leave out?
What is required here is judgment and discretion. You must make some hard decisions. You have all these wonderful assets you would like to tout to the world, but you only have a little less than 4 inches of resume real estate in which to catch the employer's eye. Something has to give.
This is where you go back and cut every non-essential word, and item from your list. The basis for your decision-making is whether each word or item contributes to making you a more attractive candidate for THIS job. If not, it has to go. You start by removing the least relevant items, until you are left with a very strong statement.
You will also want review this section to see if it is laid out so as to catch the eye and have a flow to the content and design. This will be covered later on this website where layout and design strategies are introduced.
Place Your Professional Resume Summary
In Your Resume's HOT ZONE
Locate your summary toward the top of your first page in the Hot Zone of your resume. The HOT ZONE is identified by the portion of the resume 1 1/2 to 2 inches above and below a line one third of the way down the page from the top. Measure 3 5/8 inches from the top of your page, and draw a horizontal line. Your hot zone starts about 1 3/4 inches above that line and goes to the middle of your page - 5 1/2 inches from the top. In essence, it is the first 3 1/2 to 4 inches below your contact information section.
Your HOT ZONE is the place where you most want to make your claims. It is the location on your resume that naturally draws the eye. This is where you want your "big guns," your most powerful claims about why you are the best candidate for this job.