These days, a summary section for your resume is almost essential. If you have a resume summary section in your resume, pat yourself on the back. You are definitely on the right track. But how effective is it? When clients come to my firm to have their resume revamped and rewritten, I tend to see in the summary section of their resume one or more of three major problems.
- It’s not well focused and leaves the reader confused about what the target is.
- It’s too generic and full of cliches and jargon that aren’t backed by facts.
- It’s so jam-packed with information that it is almost unreadable.
It is the third problem that this first set of before and after resume examples illustrates. It doesn’t matter how impressive your content is if the recipient doesn’t take the time to read it. For it to be effective, you need to write and design your summary (and entire resume) in a way so that the reader comes away with a clear understanding of your primary value messages with no more than a glance. You literally have just seconds to accomplish this goal This job seeker had written a summary that was full of strong information, but it was so crowded that it was very hard to read. The key points are lost in all the detail. We knew we had to rewrite and redesign to make the summary easier to read and to make this job seeker’s value messages “pop” for the reader.
After rewriting by Distinctive Documents, this client’s resume summary section became incredibly powerful and compelling. We used short paragraphs for key qualifications and bullets set off some of the most impressive achievements and results that helped to illustrate the key qualifications promoted in the paragraphs. Below, rather than detailing them in dense sentences, we called out all the most important keywords and keyword phrases.
This second before example illustrates the first two problems. Immediately upon picking up your resume, the recipient should be clear about the focus. The strategy of writing a “broad” or “general” resume will almost always fail. Don’t be afraid to be specific. There should be absolutely no ambiguity in regards to your focus. It isn’t enough to simply toss out all your qualifications and hope that one will “stick”. Readers tend to be lazy and give your resume only a few seconds at most before making the decision to screen it out or screen it in (for more thorough review). In those few seconds, they need to come away with a clear understanding of your focus (level and type of position you are seeking) and how you would fit and add value within their organization. The focus should be crystal clear from a no more than a glance, and every word and element in the body of the resume should support this emphasis.
After rewriting by Distinctive Documents, the reader immediately understands that this is a senior-level general management candidate with expertise in start-up and turnaround situations. Perhaps even more significantly, our version of the resume summary is differentiating, benefits-focused, and specific. In the original version, the job seeker had made the common mistake of writing a summary that was so generic that it could apply to anyone that did the same type of management work. Our version emphasizes differentiators and distinguishing qualifications rather than just the baseline qualifications that are common and expected. Additionally, the “before” version simply stated that the job seeker had certain abilities and traits. Our “after” version illustrates those traits through examples of past achievements. We’ve proved impact and as a result the profile is far more powerful and effective!