Do You Really Need a Resume Summary?
Career Summary is a statement placed at the top of the resume. They took over the objectives which were often vague and blatantly meaningless for employers. Summaries typically contain a few pitchy sentences aimed to market your background quickly. Given the six seconds that recruiters spend on each resume, having a strong introduction may make a lot of difference!
Yet, the opinions of career experts on including a summary polarize. Some state that all job-seekers, regardless of their industry and level of career, should be using it. Others state that adding a summary takes valuable resume space for nothing. To help you decide on including a summary, our resume writer NYC will explain in detail in what cases using a summary makes sense.
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How does the summary statement look like?
The summary section comprises 3-5 statements that emphasize your professional value. It may be written as a paragraph or a list of bulleted statements. Here’s how it looks like:
- Accomplished Marketing Manager with 6+ years of experience running email marketing, paid advertisement and social media campaigns. Demonstrated organic YoY traffic growth by 22% on average over 3 years. Supervised and trained 20+ digital marketing and sales employees, boosting the sales targets by 35%. Proven proficiency in content creation, inbound marketing and influencer marketing strategies.
Simply put, the summary condenses your entire career history or its specific highlights. It also draws attention to your accomplishments and areas of expertise in a moment. As a result, the hectic recruiter doesn’t have to read the resume top to bottom to put your career profile together.
With these reasons in mind, a summary may sound like something that everyone should be using. However, you need to consider where you are in your career and whether adding a summary makes sense personally for you. Here are the few hints for you to decide.
Does your resume need a summary statement?
Summary of Qualifications shouldn’t be added in a resume for the sake of it. A summary pulled together in a rush or mindlessly can do more harm than good. Similarly, it makes sense to add not in every career situation.
A resume summary is completely indispensable if:
⮚ You’re an experienced C-level candidate
Resumes of experienced and accomplished candidates crave the summary section. Competition for executive jobs is fierce, so the resume should impress with accomplishments from the first lines. Moreover, a summary helps you shape and communicate your brand – the value proposition that distinguishes you from others. Use it to show your underline career theme, for example, the ability to drive sales and client retention by developing and delivering corporate training.
⮚ You’ve had an uneven, disparate career history
Switching from retail sales to human resource and then to marketing can confuse the hiring manager. On their opinion, the resume should read as a holistic career story and show the progression. The summary can fix this situation, connecting your diverse types of experience together. It’s your ultimate chance to describe the disparate experience as an asset and not the lack of career focus.
⮚ You want to land a great job after university
University graduates lack experience and thus struggle to get entry-level jobs. Even if your target job doesn’t demand prior experience, you’ll have to compete with your peers. Summary here is used to present your educational successes such as high GPA or relevant academic projects. Moreover, you should outline your desired career direction so that the employer understands your long-term goals and how you fit in.
⮚ You are pursuing a career change
When you make a radical change in career path (say, from corporate accounting to web development), a recruiter cannot connect the dots. What you need in this situation is more of a hybrid of the summary and resume objective. You need to briefly summarize relevant experience, if any, and explain how it prepared you for the career you’re going to pursue. Unexplained career change resumes are weed out as irrelevant.
⮚ You’re looking to show your brand
If you’re looking to establish a reputation as an influencer in your industry, building a personal brand is essential. In particular, it should be reflected in a resume. Understand your strengths and areas of specialization, and write the summary in a way that sells these strengths. In this way, you’ll also need to align this summary with other details that you share online – your personal blog, social media, and more.
You can go without a summary when:
⮚ You have a clear, linear career path
Let’s say you’re a sales professional. Having started your career as a SDR, you went through a series of promotions and now work as a Senior Sales Manager. Your resume reflects that progression, showing the growth in responsibility and skills. You haven’t undertaken dramatic changes in industry or job titles. If that sounds like your career story, summary isn’t a must. It is better for you to focus on accomplishments and skills.
⮚ You don’t know how to write it well
Hiring managers agree that it’s better to omit the summary whatsoever than to include a poorly written one. Many summaries simply repeat the candidate’s resume or are full of clichés (such as proactive problem-solver or hardworking team player). In this case, the recruiter will simply skip the summary or put it aside thinking that the rest of the resume is equally poor. So, if you’re not sure how to promote your strengths, omit this section or pay for professional resumes editing.
If you have sent the resume, here’s how long you should wait for a response from employers: https://resumeperk.com/blog/how-long-to-hear-back-after-submitting-a-resume.
How to compose a stellar summary statement: 4 expert tips
Long story short, summary serves two major goals. Firstly, it reflects your personal brand and promotes your strengths, making you more competitive on the job market. And secondly, it serves as a focal point of the resume. It connects your career history with the future professional goals and addresses the questionable issues.
If you’ve opted to use a summary, approach this process thoughtfully. One cannot craft a catchy introduction without a great deal of self-reflection and analysis. Here are the exact steps you can take:
Step 1. Figure out your strengths
To get started, you need to look back and understand what you excel at. Determine which aspects of your work you do better than the others and in which tasks or projects you accomplished most. If you struggle to understand your strengths use these questions to self-reflect:
⮚ What people often compliment and praise me for?
⮚ What kind of accomplishments am I most proud of?
⮚ What tasks and responsibilities make me lose the sense of time and immerse into the process?
Let’s say you’re a college teacher who enjoys developing customized curriculums and presentations to boost student performance. Write down these strengths and support them with tangible results, if possible.
Step 2. Determine your career direction
Summary section is about the future, not the past. Hence, you need to realize what you’d like to do in your next position. If you can research the competitor and analyze market trends but it isn’t something you would like to do, keep these skills out of the summary. These questions might help you get your thoughts in order:
⮚ What qualifications and characteristics would I like to be hired for?
⮚ Where do I see myself in five years from now?
⮚ What topics and issues in my profession am I most passionate about?
Returning back to the teacher example, you may realize that integrating technology in education is what interests you most. Thus, you’ll need to express that interest in a summary – but not before you give your aspirations a reality check.
Step 3. Analyze what your industry has to offer
Align your career goals with the needs of specific industry or perhaps even the company. This is easier said than done, but your summary absolutely has to be relevant to get you noticed. Research the target industry and companies, watch for trends and check typical job postings. Then, ask yourself:
⮚ What qualifications, skills, and attributes hiring managers look for in my target job?
⮚ What challenges in the industry can I help resolve?
⮚ Which of those desired qualifications and skills I have?
At this point, you are finally ready to write the summary of qualifications. Say, if you’ve determined that you enjoy course development and use of technology in education more than giving lectures, you might want to adapt your resume for a Technology Integration Teacher position. Highlight that you’re tech-savvy, enjoy training others and can streamline learning process using tech tools.
Step 4. Fine-tune your summary section
Having taken the above steps, you probably have a rough draft of your resume summary. Maybe, it’s a bit longer than the recommended 3-5 sentences. Use the following tips to condense and strengthen the summary statement:
⮚ Understand your selling points. It’s best to speak through experiences rather than give a skill name. Instead of saying that you’re a “versatile project manager”, write “delivered continuously high results for enterprise software, e-commerce and digital marketing companies”. This will give the readers a sense of specifics.
⮚ Speak through accomplishments. Don’t write “exceeded sales targets”. Say “Exceeded sales targets by 32% over FY2018 by initiating advertising campaigns”. Examples read more powerfully than the dry, generic descriptions.
⮚ Use power verbs for resume. Just as you try to avoid fluff words like “go-getter” and “enthusiastic leader”, rely on strong resume language. Replace the “led” and “managed” with “initiated” and “spearheaded”, and you’ll notice that the resume makes a whole different impression on the reader.
⮚ Format appropriately. Both bulleted list and paragraph formats are acceptable to use. Make sure that you use complete sentences and these sentences aren’t too long. Avoid the first person pronouns and use the same font type and size as the rest of the document.
⮚ Insert important keywords. Your resume should be adapted for each specific job posting, and the summary is the section that needs adjustment in the first place. Align it with the needs and requirements of an employer. In particular, use keywords from the job posting – at the top of the document, they weigh the most.
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