Your opening statement must immediately convince the reader to keep reading. The Summary statement gathers the best elements of your resume – your abilities, skills, experience, accomplishments, and personal characteristics – and condenses them into a brief description of the best reasons for hiring you. Your Summary is your initial sales pitch to a prospective employer, appears at the top of your resume, conveys the scope of your experience and background, and indicates to the reader your key strengths and areas of expertise. This section should be brief, yet powerful, and should quantify your most impressive qualifications and achievements.
It is important to convey the best reasons for hiring you at the top of your resume to make a strong first impression. A Summary statement quickly communicates to the reader who you are, summarizes your greatest strengths and convinces a hiring manager to keep reading your resume. This is also your opportunity to combine and summarize the overall experience that you’ve acquired over a period of years from a number of different positions. Gather the best of your skills, abilities, experience, accomplishments, education, credentials and personal characteristics from your entire career and condense them into a concise, impactful statement that describes the professional you. Your summary should convey the top three to five qualifications that define you as an exceptional performer in your field – someone that stands out from the crowd – and summarize the most impressive reasons why you are qualified.
When to Use a Summary
Expert opinions vary when determining whether to use an Objective or Summary as the opening statement in a resume. In general, recent graduates and entry-level job seekers use an Objective Statement because it helps them define and communicate the position they are seeking. However, seasoned professional and executives use a Summary Statement that clearly defines their career field through an effective demonstration of previous career highlights.
Insider Tip: A Summary is the best of the best. It is not essential to list all of your accomplishments in the beginning, just those that will be most impressive to your future employer. It’s a good strategy to reinforce additional accomplishments throughout your resume that can be discussed in greater detail at the interview.
How to Get the Information
Before writing your Summary, consider who will read your resume (a prospective employer) and decide the story you want to tell. A Summary statement, if written properly, should be the only section of your resume that your future employer needs to read in order to invite you for an interview. The following are some questions that will help you develop the story or sales pitch that summarizes your significant career achievements.
· How many years of experience do you have in your career or industry?
· What areas of expertise make you stand out from your competition?
· Why are you particularly qualified for this position?
· What awards or special recognition have you earned in your career?
· What were some of the positive comments that your previous employer mentioned in your past performance reviews?
· How have you increased the quality of your company’s products or services?
· Can you indicate in measurable terms how you have either increased revenue or decreased costs for a previous employer?
· How do you compare to others in similar positions?
· What specific knowledge or unique experience do you possess?
· What are your greatest strengths and assets?
· What are your most significant accomplishments and achievements?
· Have you ever received an award, certificate or commendation from any group?
· If you are a recent graduate, have you received any academic awards or scholarships?
How to Write Your Summary
A good strategy for writing your Summary statement is to do so last. First, complete each of the other sections of your resume and then review your three to five most impressive qualifications. Then compose an impactful summary statement of your most notable qualifications.
The phrases in your Summary should be clear, concise, powerful and direct. Rather than dress up your skills with decorative language such as “excellent,” “dynamic,” or “aggressive,” let your accomplishments and qualifications speak for themselves.
Evaluate and measure the results of your achievements and write achievement statements in measurable terms. Consider upgrading your existing resume phrases and job descriptions to more powerful statements that measure your results and demonstrate your success:
Public Relations specialist with excellent written and communications skills
Five years experience as a Public Relations specialist. Composed 16 press releases under tight deadlines, each achieving top-tier placement on major websites. Effectively positioned the company image during a successful merger.
Consider combining your job Objective and Summary statements together into one powerful statement about you at the beginning of your resume. This allows you to include the best of both an Objective statement and Summary statement at the top of your resume, while making a strong impression to the reader about your career achievements.
Marketing Executive / Vice President of Marketing / Senior Brand Manager
Sixteen years experience as a senior marketing executive. Established five new, best-selling brands in the consumer electronics industry in less than three years. Able to coordinate the efforts of many to meet organizational goals. Decision-maker with the spirit of creativity, stability and dedication.
Career Summary - Examples
Finance Administrator offering 15 years of successful financial experience specializing in asset management. Solid business background with extensive knowledge of warehousing and distribution, risk management, financial reporting, automated accounting systems, and Department of Transportation regulations. Increased asset/purchasing profits and operating efficiency through management and cost-effective programs. Increased efficiency of delivery schedule while reducing operating costs. Able to merge technologies and personnel into team-centered business units.
Software Project Team Leader • IT Strategy Consultant • IT Director
Information Technology Management Professional with 13+ years analyzing, designing, consulting, deploying and managing multi-million dollar software development applications for the retail sector. Strong project management, business-focus and resource management capabilities. Recognized for influencing growth and elevating market perceptions of quality and consistency.
Business Development / Account Management / Sales
· Over 10 years experience specializing in Sales, Account Management and Business Development.
· Proven ability to identify and capture opportunities, expand sales and increase revenue in highly competitive industries.
· Consistently exceeded sales goals by an average of 150% ranked in the top 10 of a field of 210 sales representatives.
· Recipient of the “Top Sales Achievement” award for outstanding contribution to the company’s bottom line.
· Demonstrated record of persuasive communication and assertive negotiation with strong abilities to close the deal.
A highly motivated, results-focused Program Manager with over eight years of information technology experience in the semiconductor industry. Possess strong leadership and successful team building capabilities and excellent technical, communication, presentation, and customer service skills. Resourceful problem solver with proven ability to bring quick resolution to challenging situations as well as build lasting relationships with vendors and customers.
• Product Development • Strategic Planning
• Business Development • Customer Relationship Management
• Manufacturing Operations • Continuous Process Improvement
• Global Partnerships • Financial Analysis
Career Summary - Questions & Answers
The following are general instances in which you would use a Summary statement:
- You are an experienced job seeker and are looking for similar employment within your field or industry.
- You have a skill set that is diverse or widely applicable and you want to be considered for more than one kind of position.
- You know that your resume will reside within a resume database, and you want to be considered for a wide variety of job openings.
- You have valuable experience or specific accomplishments that appear on the second page of resume that you want to highlight sooner.
- Your Summary contains at least one substantial accomplishment or qualification that supports your career objective.
- Your occupation offers career pathways into many diverse career fields or spans several industries (such as Customer Service).
The following are general instances in which you would use an use Objective statement:
- You are an entry-level job seeker or recent graduate with little on-the-job experience.
- You are transitioning into a new career field, exiting the military or returning to work following a leave of absence.
- You are looking explicitly for a particular position, type of company or specific industry.
- You know the exact job title of the job opening you are targeting and have time to tailor your Objective statement to match the job title, working environment and type of company for each position.
- Your past work experience is diverse and crosses several different career fields and you want the reader to understand your career direction clearly.
A Summary section is meant to highlight specific skills and achievements from a resume that contains years of experience. If you have limited work experience, your relevant skills and achievements will be apparent in the body of your resume and probably do not need to be summarized. In this case, you will want to choose an Objective as the opening statement of your resume.
A Summary should contain only the best reasons for hiring you. Summarize just the highlights of your career, include the number of years experience in your career field or industry, the skills and abilities required of the position, your most relevant capabilities and accomplishments, specific job requirements such as certificates, licenses, or degrees and the personal characteristics that would be considered critical to the success in your career field.
The majority of employers prefer to see either a Summary or Objective statement at the top of your resume. If you have held several positions within your targeted career field and your qualifications are apparent, then your previous experience and preferred job target will be obvious to the reader.