When I first started writing resumes, I was completely against resume summaries. I found them bland, boring and unpersuasive. Why write a summary when the real stuff is in the experience sections and bullets?
I felt the same way about Skills sections. Anyone can list a bunch of skills, so what’s the point?
Well, over the years, my tune has changed. The resume summary (or profile), and even the list of skills, provide a quick context for the reader that makes the rest of the resume make more sense. And the summary does not have to be boring! Ideally it will include accomplishments and career highlights that grab attention rather than set the reader on snooze.
The Word from Recruiters on Resume Summaries
But what I think really doesn’t matter. What matters is what recruiters and hiring managers think. That’s why I was excited to receive an article in my inbox from Career Directors International titled Recruiter Voice on Resume Summary & Profile Section. I’m linking to it here, but you won’t be able to view it (or any of the many valuable articles in the CDI library) unless you’re a CDI member. Here’s a summary of what recruiters have to say on the topic of resume summaries.
Do Recruiters Read the Summary & Profile Sections on Your Resume?
The answer is YES, thankfully, as I have been writing these for every client for 9 years. Here are some opinions and insights that you should know:
- Start off with the title you’re going for. And be careful to match your job title to the job you’re applying to – not to a completely different one.
- Include relevant strengths, years of experience, and a sense of your personality/soft skills.
- Don’t be afraid to toot your own horn. Highlight your successes!
- Provide a sense of where you’re going next.
- Differentiate yourself in the summary from other candidates.
- Customize the summary for the position you’re applying for. One size does NOT fit all.
- Tell your (short) story – keep it to 5 lines or less!
- Show off how well you put ideas together in writing. Make it flow.
- This is NOT an old-style “objective” statement. It’s NOT about what you want. It’s about what you will offer to the company.
- Remember humans will read this. Be personable!
- Describe your transferable skills and industry knowledge here if you have them and need to prove you qualify for the position without a specific requested skill or experience.
- Give the reader a sense that you can solve the problem they have. Don’t wait for the bullets to demonstrate your efficacy.
- Be attentive! That means no typos or grammatical errors.
Here are some sample resume summaries that I think succeed in doing what the recruiters in CDI’s article recommend. As you read these, consider how your resume summary compares.
Senior IT / Technology Executive
Aligning Business and Technology to Increase Revenue, Expand Reach, and Deliver Results
IT leader defining advanced technology strategies, architectures, and security solutions for renowned retail organizations including Amazon.com subsidiary ABC and Famous Footwear.
Globally minded: leverages resources, offshore development teams, and partnerships to accelerate revenue, enhance transparency, and propel growth.
Operations Manager | Global Supply Chain Director | Business Analyst
Transformational executive leader with 20 years’ experience in supply chain, logistics, and operations (PPG, NewPage, Mead). Utilizes technology to drive profitability through improved processes and lower costs. Applies S&OP expertise to guide ERP transitions (Oracle, SAP), integrate siloed divisions, and optimize operations, sales, marketing, manufacturing, and customer service. Leverages proven strategies to change culture in service of the company vision.
Senior IT Project Leader – Healthcare ERP Systems
ERP Implementations – Oracle / Lawson / PeopleSoft / Cloud / Epic EMR / Cerner EMR
IT/ERP project manager who has delivered 30 major ERP and related enterprise-level business-systems projects globally with IBM, HP, and Big 4 consulting firm Deloitte across healthcare and medical device sectors. Healthcare ERP expertise with strategic implementation projects for hospital systems, healthcare providers, government health systems, and biotech companies.
— EPIC PROJECT MANAGER & CONSULTANT —
Improving clinical operations through technical expertise, people focus, and knowledge of hospital workflows
Project leader and innovator with 13 years in Epic’s Implementation Services Division who understands the challenges of healthcare environments, and partners with nurses, ancillary staff, and other stakeholders to enhance usability and engagement. People-centric approach allows for clarity and empathy in setting expectations, bridging IT and operational priorities, and working with users to embrace new processes.
Strategic Sourcing & Operations Executive – VP / Director
Global Strategic Sourcing | Capital Project Management | Process Engineering | Capital Finance
- 20+ years’ leadership across clean tech, biotechnology, pharmaceutical, food, technology, chemical, real estate.
- Experience spans small to large operating, consulting and technology companies including Amgen ($83B market cap), Jacobs Engineering ($7B market cap), Amyris ($200M market cap) and venture-funded start-ups.
- Knowledge of multiple capital service and chemical markets including US, China, India and Japan.
Consistently enhances efficiencies, extract value and add to the bottom line.
How is your resume summary looking to you after reading these examples? If you see room for improvement, contact us – or if you do it yourself, please send your “before” and “after” resume summary to firstname.lastname@example.org. We want to see the transformation!
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