The Resume Summary: What it is and how to write it

03 Apr 2024 • 28 min • EN
28 min
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I want to talk with you today about how to approach your resume summary. I will also be talking a lot about personal branding in this section.   If you are new to this concept, the resume summary goes “above the fold” on page 1 of your resume – after your name and contact information, before your Experience section.   Here’s what DOESN’T go in this space: an old-school objective, which tells a prospective employer what YOU want, rather than how you are uniquely qualified to provide them with what THEY need.   An objective sounds something like this: High-achieving communications professional seeking a mid-level position in public relations that utilizes skills in BLANK, BLANK, and BLANK.   I hate to break it to you, but a prospective employer does not care what YOU want.   Rather, this space should be utilized to lay out your brand differentiators – what you bring to the table that no other candidate likely will.   These brand differentiators are then followed by concrete examples that support your brand.   I see two primary problems with the resumes I look at that aren’t written by me: Either there is no branding at all, or the attempt at branding merely tells the reader that the candidate has the minimum qualifications expected of everyone they would even consider for the role.   If there is no summary or branding, the job seeker hasn’t set the stage for what is to follow in the Experience section – there’s no context for what the prospective employer is reading.   If the attempt isn’t differentiating, the job seeker has wasted valuable space above the fold when they could have provided compelling evidence that the employer MUST continue reading.   How do you know if your branding is differentiating? By looking at what you have with an objective eye. As you read each component, are you merely stating what EVERY candidate should have – or what is unique to you?   The mistake many people make in attempting to brand themselves is to try to appeal to everyone – this is not the purpose. Rather, an effective branding statement will have an immediate polarizing effect – a prospective employer will either know this is not the person for them - or they will be highly interested in speaking with this candidate.     Three Great Examples   Remember: The goal here is differentiating and attention-grabbing. Here are three examples from my clients:   Transformational Leader, Creative Operations Change Management | Integrated Team Leadership | Content Champion   Bringing best practices in content creation and creative production from a wide range of B2B, B2C, and D2C experience spanning financial services, food & beverage, CPG, retail, luxury automotive, OTC pharma, and online media. Global leadership experience includes onshore and offshore teams spanning U.S., Canada, China, and Italy.   This is then followed by:   Leadership Highlights:   ¨   Increased production capacity by as much as 52%   ¨   Generated savings by as much as 50% on contracts   ¨   Reduced expenses by as much as 49%   Proven Record of Success in:   ¨   Restructuring creative departments and workflows, achieving greater productivity and efficiency   ¨   Negotiating contracts and developing vendor relationships that slash costs and minimize financial, operational, and legal risk   ¨   Optimizing in-house utilization and external resources by creating transparency around demand     From 2021: Chief Human Resource Officer   Delivering an executive presence, coupled with a data-driven decision process and willingness to engage in tough conversations   Senior HR professional with an exceptional record of improving employee engagement and retention in the high-turnover field of healthcare through a combination of building strategic relationships, gathering data directly from front-line workers, and restructuring hiring, on-boarding, and compensation processes.   Representative Achievements:   »       Transformed perception of HR into a true business partner in support of organizational leadership with an optimal blend of training, change management, coaching, and a full branding shift.   »       Served in key leadership capacity during COVID-19 including massive furlough and establishing remote work structure for 5,000 employees.   »       Reduced turnover by as much as 4% for front-line healthcare workers and 3.3% for corporate areas.     Enterprise Risk Executive Strategically tackling mission-critical problems, increasing efficiency, and improving processes Highly adept at collaborating across enterprises to solve complex challenges   Known for thriving in ambiguity and bringing structure through processes, cross-functional engagement and communication, and high-level strategic focus — coupled with an eye on risk / reward balance and achievement of organizational goals.   Experience includes:  Credit risk, operational risk, compliance risk, reputation risk, and strategic risk expertise, coupled with exposure to liquidity risk, price risk, and interest rate risk  A foundation in commercial banking underwriting and relationship management, with 7+ years’ experience in sales and sales management  Enterprise-level strategic planning and risk oversight  Building operational risk and AML programs from the ground up  M&A due diligence and integrations of banks and fintechs including developing governance frameworks     Two points about the bullets:   -I don’t ever duplicate a bullet from the client’s experience section in the Summary section. Rather, I think of it as “reconstituting” an achievement or experience from elsewhere in their resume.   For example, if a client is in sales and has a strong record of increasing market share in each role he’s held, I might pull that information together in a bullet like this:   -Consistently catapulted market share by as much as 34% with a strategic combination of BLANK, BLANK, and BLANK   The second point is this: What you include in your Summary MUST be anchored somewhere else in your resume – otherwise, there’s no context for it. You’ll just confuse the reader.   Now that I’ve given you three great examples, let’s look at what isn’t so great:     Objective: Self-motivated and energetic Healthcare Administrator looking for a full-time position in a company where there is always an opportunity to grow, gain experience, and improve skills. Experience in medical operations, excellent interpersonal communication skills, and the organizational savvy to run a facility smoothly, also proudly maintain a highly productive, efficient and quality-driven environment always.     Sales Leader A results-oriented sales professional with a proven track record in business development and sales management. Over 20 years of consultative sales experience, adept at building relationships, developing tailored solutions, and closing deals with multiple decision makers throughout the U.S. and Canada. Consistent top revenue producer with exceptional track record for exceeding sales objectives. Knowledgeable in technology, with experience in working with start-ups and SaaS solutions.     A determined self-starter who is intrinsically motivated with demonstrated ability to deliver results. With a graduate education in social work and field-based clinical experience, I apply my training and skills in critical thinking, creative problem solving, adaptability, and cultural competence throughout the work I do daily.     Android Developer / Web Developer WORK EXPERIENCE - Self-taught Android developer who designed, developed, deployed and maintained various different apps for a diverse user base.     At the risk of beating a dead horse, make sure your branding statement and summary are a) differentiating, b) not just the minimum requirements of the position, c) compelling.     Are you in the wrong job that chips away at you every day? The document and coaching programs offered by Exclusive Career Coaching will help you find a job that uses your zone of genius, recognizes your value, and pays you what you’re worth.   If you’re ready to take your job search to the next level by working with a highly experienced professional with a track record of client success, schedule a complimentary consult to learn more:  

From "The Exclusive Career Coach"

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