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How to Write a Resume Summary that Grabs Attention


Written by Louise Fletcher

blue sky resumesOne 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’re interested in professional resume help, just shoot me an email with a copy of your resume and I’ll get back to you with feedback and a price quote. The best bit? As a reader of this blog (and therefore clearly a person with impeccable taste!) you are entitled to claim a 15% discount on our resume writing service. Just mention the blog when you email me.

Other articles you might find helpful:

Should You Use a Resume Template?

3 Easy Ways to Disguise Resume Gaps

The Simple Resume Hack That Will Transform Your Job Search


  1. Dee says:

    Very helpful to see the various ways you tweaked the resume. I like the addition of providing a reference to Linked in recommendations and see how that could be helpful to both the candidate and the prospective employer. I wonder though, how your final revision will do with electronic screening software used by many companies today. Can you address that question?

  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Andy Robinson, Louise Fletcher and Elaine T Jackson, NNU Career Center. NNU Career Center said: RT @andyinnaples: How to Write a Resume Summary that Grabs Attention #CareerSuccess […]

  3. Hi Dee,

    I’m a big believer in people avoiding those systems whenever possible by networking, direct mailing, researching, using online presence building etc.

    That said, I think the answer to your question depends on the system. The one I used when I worked in HR accepted Word docs and I was able to open those Word docs from within the system, so this resume would be absolutely fine. Some other systems require users to upload their resume in text only and obviously that would mean this would have to converted, But the end result would still be an opening that was concise and much easier to read on the other end.

  4. […] (RT if you know people looking for work) 2011/01/04; Job … write a resume for a job – Google Blog Search This entry was posted in How To Write A Resume and tagged Attention, Blue, Grabs, resume, […]

  5. Mandy says:

    An excellent article – with REAL advice which is easy to implement. Thanks!

  6. What if you are in a situation where you can’t quantify your results? I volunteer for a nonprofit. Right now I am in the works to develop a database for them to keep track of the students and the mentors who mentor them. They need one because it is a “cardinal-sin” in database to have MS Excel as a database and would make their work a heck of a lot easier. What metrics would you use to quantify something if your not sure of how much it would improve their efficiency. Thank you for taking the time to read this.


  7. […] am often asked whether LinkedIn summaries and resume summaries should be the same. The answer is simple: DEFINITELY […]

  8. […] How to Write a Resume Summary that Grabs Attention from Blue Sky Resume […]

  9. Debidatta Satapathy says:

    Dear Madam

    I really found this article very effective. The way you have give the example using the sample resume- is very nice. I was going through your other blogs and materials. They are very very good, still I’m facing problem to create one Killer resume as an MBA fresher. Please help me!!

  10. jayme says:

    Hi there,
    Thank you for all of the information you have provided. I was curious if you had some tips or even a layout for a SAHM who is considering returning to the workforce.
    Any help with what to put in for that “missing” chunk of time would be greatly appreciated.


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Louise co-founded Blue Sky in 2002 after a career as an HR executive. Her industry experience includes music, video games, fashion and advertising. She lived and worked in the US for many years, but moved back to her native UK in 2012, where she now lives in the Yorkshire countryside. In addition to her full-time role with Blue Sky, she's a professional artist, so you can imagine why she couldn't answer the 'what do you do with your free time' question! Contact Louise by email.

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