Your resume summary is your introduction—use it wisely. These 2 – 4 sentences will be the first impression your resume makes and your second opportunity (Your cover letter is your first opportunity.) to have your resume read.
Many people start their resume with an objective statement (“Marketing manager looking for a position with a mid-size manufacturing company.”) — DON’T! An objective statement boils down to the obvious; you need a job. Such a statement focuses on your needs, not that of the employer. Concentrating on your needs can come across as you have a sense of entitlement, which is a turnoff.
When networking, composing your resume and cover letters, and especially during interviews, always communicate how your skills and experience can add value to an employer. Adopting a servitude mindset will set you apart from other job seekers.
It takes seconds for a hiring manager, HR manager, or recruiter to decide whether to discard your resume or give it some attention. It’s no secret that it’s raining resumes. There’s no shortage of qualified applicants knocking on employers’ doors and therefore employers can be choosy. Considering the cost of a wrong hire I can empathize with employers being picky throughout the hiring process. Therefore, your summary needs to answer the question the reader has: Should I take the time to read this resume?
Underneath your contact information, which I outlined in last week’s column, you need to add a summary. This summary gives the reader a sense of how you may be the right candidate for the position you’re applying for and can be an asset to their business or their client (if dealing with a recruiter).
For your summary to encapsulate your career, skills, and value, it needs to cover:
- Previous relevant jobs and experience
- Core skill sets and strengths relevant to the position
- Relevant accomplishments
You’ll have noticed the word “relevant” is repeated. Keeping your resume’s content and cover letter relevant is key to keeping your resume to 2 pages and having the employer envision you in the position/their company. Anything which isn’t relevant is a distraction—often, distractions get you rejected.
Yes, you’re rightfully proud of the 3 consecutive quarters you were employee of the month at the 7-Eleven you worked part-time to help pay for university, but 20 years later, you’re searching to lead an IT help desk. The same with mentioning you have a golf handicap of 8, which I admit if I had, I’d find hard not to bring up.
Of course, suppose you’re applying to lead the IT desk for a national retailer or a golf club manufacturer. In that case, your 7-Eleven achievement or your golf handicap may have value worth mentioning.
Only include in your resume and cover letter information that makes a strong case why you should be interviewed.
Here are examples of a well-written summary.
Dependable Executive Assistant with over 9 years of professional experience. Keen to support Acme Corp. with excellent organizational and analytical skills. At Stark Industries, I optimized travel costs resulting in an overall reduction of over 30%. In 2018 I saved $45K a year by redesigning and implementing an updated call system.
Chartered Accountant with 7+ years professional experience. Seeking to leverage budgeting, cost, and revenue-maximizing expertise for Oscorp. At Nakatomi Trading Corp. I saved $4.5M by identifying low-margin transactions. I also optimized the pricing policy at Globex, increasing the customer retention rate to over 85%.
Enthusiastic software engineer with 8+ years of experience participating in the complete product development lifecycle of successfully launched applications. Eager to join Wayne Enterprises to deliver mission-critical technology and business solutions to Fortune 500 companies. In previous roles, reduced downtime by 15% and warranty costs by 25%. Identified and resolved a process bottleneck, which increased coding efficiency by up to 30%.
These examples get to the point and show (note the percentages, monetary values) the reader how the job seeker can benefit their business.
TIP: Change your summary to speak to the job posting you’re applying to, mention the employer’s name, and the reason(s) the job exists.
Next week I’ll cover presenting your professional experience (Think of the numbers that make a business successful.).
Nick Kossovan, a well-seasoned veteran of the corporate landscape, offers advice on searching for a job. You can send him your questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.