how to write a resume summary?

Make Sure Your Resume Summary Gets Noticed

Writing a Great Resume Summary

The first fifth of the first page of your resume is your resume’s most valuable real estate. If you haven’t captured the readers’ attention by then, don’t expect the rest of your resume to be read.

An effective resume summary answers the two main questions recruitment consultants and hiring managers have:

  • What you will you bring to this organisation?
  • Why should this organisation hire you?

When you need a Resume Summary

  • When you a significant amount of relevant experience and you need to succinctly summarise your career history and pivotal achievements and why you’re a great fit for the role and the organisation.
  • When you have unique skills, combinations of experience or achievements and want to communicate how you stand out from other candidates.
  • When you want to incorporate relevant keywords so that hiring managers can find what they are looking for.

The Purpose of your Resume Summary

A Resume Summary enables a recruiter or hiring manager to rapidly understand the main reasons for hiring you.

Hiring managers and recruitment consultants may or may not have time to read every word of your resume, consider all the bullet points and process all your skills. Therefore, your Resume Summary at the top of the first page should showcase the most important impressive aspects of your experience and achievements from your resume.

If your resume summary doesn’t make a positive impression, the rest of the resume probably won’t either. But if your resume summary makes recruiters say, “Wow, this sounds great,” then they’re likely to read the rest of your resume which increases the chances of a positive response.

What is a Resume Summary?

A resume summary is a statement at the beginning of your resume that communicates your unique value proposition. It’s designed to help the readers of your resume understand what makes you different and how that difference will add value or make a significant difference or have a substantial impact.

This is where you link your track record of accomplishments or achievements to the issues, challenges, pain points and opportunities facing the kinds of organisations or industries in which you want to work.

By demonstrating that you understand the challenges, pain points and opportunities facing a particular industry or type of company and how your expertise, experience, skills and professional attributes are relevant, you will be making exactly the kinds of connections with the readers that you need to make.

The Content of your Resume Summary

Your Resume Summary focuses the attention of the reader on what’s important to the company. It also focuses their attention on a selected handful of achievements that proves, in a tangible way, what you are claiming.

Your Resume Summary should emphasise the skills, areas of expertise, experience and other attributes employers are seeking.

If the organisation is looking for someone who can reduce costs, improve productivity, elevate efficiency and reduce employee attrition, make sure your Summary provides evidence of your achievements in these areas. If they want someone who can increase sales, boost profitability, penetrate new markets and develop new products, your Summary should demonstrate that you can achieve these outcomes.

Applicant Tracking Systems & AI

Most recruitment firms and many employers use applicant tracking software (ATS) to collect information about candidates. A recruitment consultant or hiring manage won’t see your resume unless they find it by searching through the database first. It’s therefore crucial to make your resume will be as easy to find as possible. You can do this by adding keywords, which can be found in the job advertisement.

This means that your resume summary should judiciously use keywords relevant to the role and to the industry. However, don’t use keywords just for the sake of including them.

If you repeat keywords or stuff them into your resume summary like there’s no tomorrow, the applicant tracking software will flag the information as poor quality. A single instance is all that’s usually necessary. And keywords should fit naturally with the syntax of a sentence.

What not to Do when writing a Resume Summary

Don’t use Hype

Hype is the sort of ‘marketing’ speak which involves using words and phrases that exaggerate or embellish your abilities and achievements which repel recruiters and hiring managers.

Don’t be Modest

There’s a balance between hype and being overly modest. You have to be factual and let your achievements speak for themselves. The readers of your resume will figure out how effective and impressive you are.

Don’t skimp on Proofreading

There are no excuses for bad grammar or typos. You can access tools such as Grammarly and you can use Word’s spell checking and grammar function.

Once you have eradicated any errors by using software, ask someone to go through it carefully one last time to detect anything the software assistants might have missed.

Why a Resume Summary will help you Stand Out

Your Resume Summary is going to help differentiate you if you focus the content on how you are going to add value to the organisation. It’s an opportunity to set yourself apart from the pack. And, this is critical given that there are often 100 or more candidates for each role.

If you are applying for different kinds of roles in different industries where the requirements will be different, you should customise your Summary so that it’s aligned with that industry and that type of role.

Using AI to generate your Resume Summary

Just don’t. Recruitment consultants and hiring can smell these from a great distance.

AI-generated Summaries are generic and could apply to pretty much anyone. They contain nothing that’s specific or unique to you. They can’t. AI doesn’t know you! As a result, it can’t provide specific information about you.

In addition, applicant tracking systems can determine with a high degree of accuracy the likelihood that content has been written by generative AI.

In summary, an effective Resume Summary is essential if you want recruitment consultants and hiring managers to understand, in a nutshell what you have to offer. They are also not easy to write. However, it’s essential that you take the time and put in the effort so that you multiply your chances of being invited to interviews.

I haven’t provided any examples of effective Resume Summaries because each one should be unique to the individual and reflect what you specifically have to offer and how you can add value. Also, the Internet is littered with examples of Resume Summaries. Avoid the ones that simply use a string of cliched catch phrases and meaningless buzzwords that could describe anyone. Remember, your Resume Summary is about you.