Of course, your entire resume deserves your full attention, and the extra time and scrutiny you give to your Summary section will pay off.
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What’s so important about that part of your resume? It’s the first place all readers look, and as they skim that section, they’re making a critical decision: continue reading or not? Readers make that decision based on their assessment of three questions:
- Is this resume relevant to the position I’m seeking to fill?
- Is the content compelling and captivating?
- Does it give me data, metrics, and outcomes, so that I know what this person can deliver?
Most people think their resumes should represent them and their experience, and that’s true, but it’s only part of the truth. The whole truth is that resumes must demonstrate that the person is a fit for the target position by highlighting relevant details about the candidate’s experience and training.
As you approach your Summary with the intent of demonstrating fit for the position you’re seeking, keep these tips in mind.
Nail The Keywords
Keywords are vital in the Summary. Take a look at the job description and highlight the keywords. Look for repeated and emphasized words, and weave those terms into your Summary. Use the exact terms that are used in the job description. For example, if the job description says “meeting facilitation,” don’t use “team leadership,” particularly if you’re submitting to an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) that is likely set to detect keyword match.
Write To The Future, Not The Past
Make sure your Summary represents where you’re going professionally, not just where you’ve been.
I often hear from clients that they’re resistant to the idea of listing themselves as an “Expert” or “Specialist” in their headlines. My recommendation is to claim your expertise, and recognize that if you have a degree in a subject area, you can declare with certainty that you know your material. In fact, if you’re just coming out of a degree program, your knowledge may be more current and cutting edge than people who have been mired in one dimension of your industry for several years.
Include Metrics And Data
If someone reads your Summary, and doesn’t recognize your unique thumbprint, it’s too bland. If it is packed with generic descriptions like “analytical” and “detail-oriented,” you’ll never stand out. Where can you include data and numbers to represent your deliverables? Even if it’s the number of touch-points you have each day with customers, you can quantify that as “>50 positive interactions with customers daily.”
Emphasize Accomplishments And Outcomes
When a recruiter, human resource professional, or hiring manager reads your resume, they want to know whether you can deliver if they place you in the position you’re seeking. Make it clear that you’ll come through by exceeding their expectations. “Able to multi-task” becomes “juggles multiple tasks simultaneously amid frequent interruptions and chaotic environments to ensure project completion and superior client satisfaction scores.”
Customize, Customize, Customize
Even if you keep the remainder of your resume intact, make sure your Summary is specific to every position you seek. It’s definitely worth the extra few minutes to review the job description and answer three questions as you revise your Summary:
- What is the most important dimension of this position?
- What are the keywords I need to include?
- How am I a strong fit for this particular position?
If readers skim your Summary and can’t identify your responses to those questions, go back and revise because they will not continue reading the remainder of your resume.
Your Summary is your portal into each position you’re seeking. Make it work for you by letting your personality and your strengths shine.
Maggie Graham | Coach
Career coach Maggie Graham banishes Credential Gremlins in her forthcoming book Skip the Next Degree: Career Change without Debt and Despair. She points mid-career professionals in the direction of their next steps and defines a road map to take them there. Job seekers will find an ally when they seek support for landing their next positions.
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by a CAREEREALISM-approved expert. You can learn more about expert posts here.
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