How Important is the Summary Section of Your Resume?
The summary section of your resume – aka your “elevator speech” – is probably the single most important ingredient of your resume. While it’s your first introduction to the recruiter or hiring manager, your resume is read – on average – in about 10 seconds. That means it better be good in order to buy your resume more time.
A carefully prepared summary should be masterfully written and full of information to make you stand out while still focusing on things the employer wants to know. Placed at the top of your resume, this “speech” lies in prime resume real estate where a recruiter or hiring manager looks first. Here are some tips to catch your reader’s attention immediately:
- Ensure a clear, quick understanding of your top selling points at a glance. This is key considering your resume is being skimmed through dozens of resumes at a time.
- Emphasize your career highlights and key strengths in an easy-to-read format, such as a bulleted list.
- Briefly communicate your professional objective if it’s relevant. Sometimes the objective is obvious; in this case, an objective may be unnecessary.
While all resumes can benefit from a summary statement, the element can be critical for certain candidates.
- Career Changers – Quickly relate your transferable skills through your summary statement. Otherwise, a recruiter might look at your most recent experience, assume you’re not a fit, and toss your resume.
- Experienced Professionals with Diverse Backgrounds – Tailor your summary statement to the specific position for which you are applying. Showcase your most relevant and impressive skills and career accomplishments.
- Recent College Grads – Customize your resume for different opportunities. Especially if your background is somewhat general, use the summary to highlight skills and experience most relevant for each position.