Developing an Effective Summary Section on a Resume
Hiring managers and recruiters who prefer reading resume objectives over summaries are like dinosaurs – everybody knows they used to be around but none can be found today. Indeed, in most cases, a resume objective due to its nature is considered a section that brings no valuable information to recruiters. Saying what kind of job you want does no good in this context whatsoever. Instead, developing an effective summary section seems to be a good alternative as it allows saying things hiring managers are most interested in. And considering the fact, that a resume gets reviewed in about 6-10 seconds (in average), a professionally written summary can make all the difference. The expectations of hiring managers then should become the driving force for developing a good summary. In other words, if you knew what decision makers are specifically looking for, you could design your resume and summary section in a way that would generate attention of those responsible for hiring decisions.
How to Write a Good Summary?
Many job seekers are concerned with the length of this section so we will start with that aspect. Obviously, this section shouldn’t be very long because skipping large blocks of text is quite natural for people trying to quickly scan a document. Keep in mind, you have about 6-10 seconds to say the most important things about why you should be hired or at least invited for an interview. Therefore, we believe that 3-5 sentences (depending on your qualifications and past work experience) should be enough to outline your career and set the tone of your resume or CV. Keep the sentences concise though – unnecessary details can become a turn-off for many hiring managers. We also recommend organizing summary section in the form of a bulleted list. This should increase readability of this section which means it will be more likely read by hiring managers.
Now as you know how long your summary should be, you can get down to drafting one. The first thing you should do is to jot down things you consider your brightest professional accomplishments and things you are most proficient in. Then you should turn to the job ad and research the job requirements identifying things that are valuable for your potential employers. When you know what the employers want and what you can give them, you should try and do your summary as a response to the employer’s wish list. In other words, ask yourself which of your accomplishments match those provided in the job ad? How can your skills solve the employer’s problems/meet their needs?
Please, note that creating a generic resume summary that you can use to apply for different kind of jobs is highly ineffective today. The reason is hiring managers want to see relevant content on a resume which is impossible if applicants send the same version of their resumes to hundred of companies. Also, remember to use keywords in your summary. Sometimes, resumes are processed through an Applicant Tracking Software before they ever get to the computer of hiring managers. This software scans each and every resume for specific keywords from the job description. If yours doesn’t have any, it is very unlikely your resume will ever get to the computers of those responsible for making hiring decisions.