The resume summary at the top of your resume may be the first (and only) thing a potential employer reads. Therefore, it is important to make sure you get this part right. I realize it can be a daunting task. Here are some tips, ideas, and examples to break it down for you.
The ideal resume summary will contain three sentences. Concise, impactful statements detailing your work history, accomplishments, and future desires. To do this well, some self-reflection will be required. If you are feeling up to the challenge, keep reading.
Sentence 1 – Where I have been?
- What is the most ideal, general job title that would describe the next role you will have?
- Additionally, you need to identify what unique abilities you have that allowed you to achieve success in your career thus far. Try to identify both technical skills and soft skills which answer this question.
Example: Passionate account manager with eleven years sales and recruiting experience built upon a teaching foundation.
Sentence 2 – What I have done?
- Identify the top ways you have made an impact at work. Examples would be your best traits and what you are known for as the “go to” person in the office. Also helpful is a list of the top three accomplishments you have made in your career that make you the proudest.
- This sentence is often the most challenging to write, and I suggest you write it last. After sentence 1 & 3 are written, identify the key points you haven’t already highlighted.
Example: Strengths include building and maintaining relationships, consultative sales, mentoring, and the ability to think outside the box with a natural willingness to try new things.
Sentence 3 – Where do I want to go?
- What do you want your next job to look like?
- What impact do you want to make for the company in your function?
Example: Seeking to combine skills in sales, recruiting, account management, and new business development to assist an organization in expanding their revenue stream.
I recommend you start by writing these sentences in first person (using I, me, or my). Why? It is much easier to think in these terms and get the right information down on paper. Your goal is to make each answer into one concise, impactful sentence. Once the right, impactful statements are down on paper, the sentences should be easy to rework by removing those pronouns. Then these three sentences should all come together to create your summary paragraph, like the example here of the resume summary paragraph I used on the resume that helped me land my current position.
Passionate account manager with eleven years sales and recruiting experience built upon a teaching foundation. Strengths include building and maintaining relationships, consultative sales, mentoring, and the ability to think outside the box with a natural willingness to try new things. Seeking to combine skills in sales, recruiting, account management, and new business development to assist an organization in expanding their revenue stream.
Last few little pointers
Double check your resume summary paragraph to ensure you have used the proper verb tenses throughout. This can be a challenge when speaking to the past, present, and future of your career. Also, look to ensure you don’t have too many buzzwords in your paragraph. This is intended to be an impactful, summarizing statement about you, not necessarily a sales pitch. So be cautious of using too many buzzwords. If there are a few that are truly applicable, then those should be what you highlight.
Commonly shared wisdom is that you should be tweaking your resume to directly fit each role you apply for. If you truly know what you want as a next job and you have written an impactful summary, it really should be applicable to most any position you would want to apply. My recommendation is that you customize your cover letter (yes, you absolutely should be writing a cover letter) to fit each unique role you apply for, but that is an entirely different blog topic; read about it here Cover Letters Demystified.
Written by Tiffany Appleton
Director, Accounting & Finance Division