One of the key points I cover in my free resume writing course, is the need to stand out by writing a powerful resume summary.
You only get a very short amount of time to make an impression and a well written resume summary can make all the difference.
But I think the resume summary is one of the most misunderstood aspects of resume writing. Most people write summaries that are almost guaranteed never to be read.
Let me show you what I mean.
Here is a resume example that I recently received. I have disguised the client, but she gave me permission to share her original resume (which cost her $400 from another resume writer) along with the rewrite:
[click image to see a larger version]
This resume summary is typical of too many resumes. It may look and sound very professional but here’s the truth: No one will read it.
Every recruiter or hiring manager faced with that big block of text will simply skip it to get to the professional history. The only positive thing about the resume summary as it stands right now is the headline “Marketing Manager” which clearly communicates to recruiters who this candidate is and what types of jobs she should be considered for. Other than that, it’s useless.
So I’m going to take this resume and rework the summary in stages so you can see exactly how to spice up your own resume introduction.
First, let’s deal with the fact that it’s just a big block of text that no one will read. I’m going to try breaking it up and creating sub-headers and bolded text calling out the most important information recruiters need to know about this candidate. That way, if someone wants to skip the introduction, they’ll still learn some persuasive facts about Sydney:
That’s better but I still don’t feel the chunk of text in the middle is going to be read by most recruiters. I also think it’s filled with ‘fluff.’ Sydney may claim to be a “proactive manager, team player and tactical planner” who has “contributed to revenue growth” but who knows if that’s true?
Instead of making those unsubstantiated claims, I’m going to prove that they’re true by replacing all those words with short bullet points highlighting some of her best successes:
Better, but I wonder if I can do more? I wonder how I can use this resume summary to prove that Sydney is really something special? One possibility is to go to her LinkedIn page, look for endorsements and pull out some of the best quotes. I can then use them to provide third-party “proof” that Sydney is worth hiring.
I tried that here, and this version is evidence that I don’t always have the best ideas first time round!
I like the quotes, but I think they make the introduction too long and they distract from those compelling bullet points. A busy recruiter will probably just skip this whole section looking for the professional experience. I’ve just tried to do too much here.
But all that work led me to the final version – a resume summary that does everything I wanted.
I decided that I needed to get the focus back on those key facts that prove Sydney is a high achiever, so I selected just one quote to use. This quote says it all really and by setting it off to the side, we keep the introduction from being too long and too busy.
I have also redesigned the resume. Sydney is a marketing manager for the tech industry in 2011 so her resume shouldn’t look like something from 1986.
The redesigned resume summary may not be to everyone’s taste, but I would bet good money on it’s being more effective during a job search than the resume Sydney was using previously.
One last time here is the original resume:
And here is the new version:
Note that this exact approach may not be right for you. You may not have LinkedIn testimonials. A different approach to conveying value might be appropriate. (For example, highlighting awards you have won or starting your resume with a personal statement) The key to success is not to copy any one approach but to think of your resume summary as the place to grab attention and prove your value – and to do it in as concise a way as possible.
Good luck! And if you need step-by-step help in writing your resume, check out The Blue Sky Guide to Resume Writing. In this downloadable eBook, I walk you through the entire resume creation process from start to finish, just as I did in this blog post. Your resume will never be the same again!