By Mike Simpson
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What is the best way to start my resume?
How do I get the attention of the hiring manager?
These are questions we have all asked ourselves at one point or another.
And to muddy the waters a little bit, we have the ongoing “battle” between “Team Resume Objective” and and “Team Resume Summary Statement”.
What, you’ve never heard of this age-old war over the real estate at the very beginning of your resume?
Don’t worry, it’s a relatively new struggle brought about by our constant desire for finding an advantage over the other candidates vying for the same jobs we are. And we’ve made all of this much easier by giving you our free Resume Summary Cheat Sheet.
FREE BONUS PDF CHEAT SHEET: Get our resume summary PDF Cheat Sheet that hands you word-for-word resume summary samples you can use today.
“But what’s the difference, and which one is right for me?”
In a previous article we tackled Resume Objectives and what they are and who should use them (head over to take a look and see if this is the best choice for you).
Generally speaking, people who were just entering the work force, perhaps lacked experience in their fields, or were in the middle of a massive career change benefited most by using an objective statement.
But what about someone with experience or someone who isn’t changing their field?
Well, that’s where the summary statement comes into play!
Understanding the Resume Summary Statement
So what exactly is a resume summary statement?
A resume summary statement is similar to an objective statement in that it is a quick way for a job seeker to catch a hiring manager’s attention by summarizing critical information at the top of your resume in an easy to read format.
Before we go any further, I want to stop you right now. A “Resume Objective” and “Resume Summary Statement” are NOT interchangeable. They are, in fact, two very different things and should not be confused.
Resume statements essentially are just a few short, well worded, well targeted sentences that summarize your skills and experiences.
Sometimes called “Qualification Summaries” or even just “Competencies,” these two or three sentences can, when done right, give you a real advantage in the hiring game.
I don’t get it. I’m already qualified to do the job. What’s the point? Can’t they just read my resume and get that information themselves?
Absolutely.But remember, hiring managers are often going through dozens, if not hundreds of resumes per available job, so anything that can make their job easier is a good thing.
Imagine this…you’re the perfect candidate and you just know you’re the one the company should hire but the manager has been going through mountains of resumes. By the time they get to yours, they’re just skimming…trying to make it through.
They glance at your resume but, in their tired overwhelmed rush to get done, miss a few key sentences. Your resume, and your prospects at the company, are accidentally ignored.
Now imagine if that SAME resume had had a summary statement at the top clearly outlining why you’re the perfect candidate.
Instead of skimming, the hiring manager read that, nodded in satisfaction, and dropped your resume on the top of the “To Interview” pile.
Cue victory dance!
Think of a resume summary statement as a good friend at a party. They want to introduce you to the hiring manager in such a way that the manager wants to talk to you!
A great resume statement is your job seeking wingman!
Okay, let’s go to our make believe place and pretend we’re outside the gates to a huge party. There are hundreds of guests (job seekers) waiting along with us but only one bouncer (hiring manager). Everyone wants to get into the party (job) and meet the host (your new boss).
Problem is, this bouncer is VERY picky and is only letting in a very small group of people.
Everyone lines up and gets just ONE SHOT to impress the bouncer. You can see people in line ahead of you eagerly walking up to the bouncer and having varying degrees of luck. Most get pointed towards the exit before they even open their mouths.
A few manage to get in a word or two before they too are pointed towards the door. You watch in slack jawed amazement as just three people out of the hundred ahead of you actually make it past the velvet ropes.
Then suddenly it’s your turn. You stand in front of the bouncer, your heart in your throat, your mouth dry. You start to extend your hand for a hearty handshake but before you can get it up, you catch a blur out of the corner of your eye.
A man swoops in, standing next to you with a huge grin on his face. He reaches out, grabs the bouncer’s hand and shakes it for you.
“Hey! I have got to introduce you to this guy!” the stranger tells the bouncer, looking over his shoulder at you with a smile. “Seriously, this guy worked miracles at his last job.
Not only is he an expert communicator with over 10 years of experience but he has the proven ability to manage multiple projects while meeting challenging deadlines…and didn’t our host specifically state those were the kinds of people he was looking to meet tonight?”
The bouncer looks at you. Gone is the squinty eyed glare replaced with a look of contemplation and…dare we say…interest?
He grunts and nods, reaches for the ropes…and you’re in!
But just who was that mysterious man?
That, my friend, was your resume statement…summing up your qualifications into a neat and tidy power packed punch of awesome directly targeting what the hiring managers are looking for.
Okay, so you’ve hooked me. Now, how do I write a good summary statement?
Well, read on to the next section to find out! But first, take the time to download our free Resume Summary Cheat Sheet, which hands you word-for-word-resume summaries you can use on your resume right now. Click here to get the Resume Summary Cheat Sheet.
How To Write A Great Resume Summary Statement
First off you need to do you research. Just like everything else you’ve done up to this point in your job search quest, you need to make sure that you’re maximizing your potential.
You have a very limited space to use on your resume and the last thing you want to do is waste any of it.
The goal is to get your statement down to four to six bullets (give or take a couple) distilled down into two or three laser focused sentences.
The first thing you want to do is go back and look at the job you’re applying for and determine your target audience. Re-read the job posting, keeping your eyes open for key phrases and words.
- Who are they looking for?
- What do they want that person to bring to the table? What value can they provide?
- What would l look for in a hire if I were the one posting this job?
Once you identify those things, it’s time to figure out how you fit into them.
- What are your top selling points? Find three or four things that define you as a professional and are unique to you. Are you a God among men when it comes to sales or customer service? Are you a DaVinci of schematics and CAD drawings? Make sure these are things you ENJOY doing…don’t list things you’re good at but that you hate doing…or you’ll get stuck doing them again.
- What critical problems did you identify in the job posting and how are you positioned to solve them? How does your summary align with the company job requirements?
- What are your career highlights and key strengths? How much experience do you have in doing what you’re doing? Do you have additional certifications or achievements that set you apart?
- Where does what you want and bring intersect with what the company wants and needs?
Now, keep in mind that the above things are things you WANT to put in your statement…and also remember there are things NOT to put in your statement. Things like:
- Microsoft Office. We get it. Everyone should be proficient with this suite of programs and if you’re not, then hurry up and get proficient. Even if you’re a technological wizard your hardware and software skills should go in their own separate section…not your summary statement.
- Things you’re good at but that you hate doing. We touched on this briefly above but it’s something that bears repeating. If you don’t like doing it in your job now, don’t list it in your summary statement or you’ll have to keep doing it.
- Tired, old adjectives. These are words like ‘results-oriented,’ and ‘hardworking,’ ‘innovative’ and ‘motivated.’ Use action verbs instead (we’ve written another blog post about action verbs that you need to read.. click here to read now).
Now that we’ve looked at what to include and what NOT to include, it’s time to start writing your own resume statements.
Start out your statement by being specific! Make sure it’s tailored to not only the position, but the company as well. Are you applying to five jobs? You should have five objective statements. Ten jobs? Ten statements. Two hundred jobs? Two hundred statements. Get the idea?
Focus on how you’re a benefit to the company…not how the company can benefit you.
Keep it valuable…that is…make sure you point out what you bring to the table.
Keep it short and sweet.
Always open your statement with your title. Why? Because you want to communicate your professional identity immediately! You want whoever is reading the resume to know AT A GLANCE exactly who they’re dealing with.
Remember, there are lots of people applying for these jobs and the last thing you want to do is get lost in the shuffle.
Plus, if the job is specifically looking for someone to fill a role and you’re already doing that role at another job, you’ve just ensured that the hiring mangers take a second look at your resume!
Next, take all the things we discussed above and pull it all together into your summary statement.
Here are a few resume summary statement examples for professionals who would be considered experts in their fields.
As mentioned above, you want to tailor these statements to the needs of the company you are interviewing with. For example, let’s say in this first example that the applicant researched the company and discovered that nearly all of their employees shared a common Quality… “management experience”. So this needs to be highlighted in the summary statement. The Quality is highlighted in orange (Be sure to support the fact that you have that quality with supporting statements:
This resume summary example is well done for a number of reasons.
First off, it’s short and sweet. Secondly, whoever is reading it knows exactly who they’re dealing with. It opens with the job seeker’s title, Architectural Project Coordinator.
You also know they’re a professional with 15 years of experience and then it quickly and cleanly goes into details about what they’ve accomplished in those 15 years.
Most importantly though is the fact that they have identified the Quality (or qualities) the company values and infused it into the statement along with some proof. Be sure to include a supporting line that proves you have the quality!
Let’s look at another. We assume that the applicant has done his/her research and is now tailoring the summary:
Another solid summary!
Are you getting the hang of these?
Okay, here’s another one:
Now, if I were a hiring manager, I’d want to know more about each of the individuals with the summaries we’ve looked at above.
But what if you don’t have any experience? Or if your experiences aren’t directly related to what you’re applying for?
Again, think long and hard before putting a summary statement on your resume if this is you. You might want to consider a qualifications summary which we outlined in last week’s post…but if you just have to have a summary…here are a few examples to help you get started.
For someone with no experience or a recent graduate:
Okay, not bad. Certainly better than nothing…but again, make sure to seriously consider the objective statement first.
For someone who is changing careers:
This one is good. It lets the person know that is reading the resume that the applicant is coming from a different field but that the skills they bring can translate to the job they’re applying for.
So there you have it. Resume Summary Statements. Your perfect resume wingman!
Remember that the most important thing for you to do is spend the time researching the company you are interviewing with and tailor your summary to the company you are interviewing with.
Thanks for reading!
FREE: Resume Summary PDF Cheat Sheet
Get our handy Resume Summary Cheat Sheet PDF.
In it you'll get word-for-word sample resume summaries covering a variety of positions you can use right away.