Posted By Amanda Collins on August 4, 2009
On the majority of résumés I see, people are missing a key component – the summary. As a marketing document, your résumé needs to sell you in a matter of seconds, and your summary will speak volumes about you. So make sure you grab readers’ attention immediately with an amazing summary that really showcases the value you offer and makes employers want to pick up the phone.
Although it is the first part of the résumé the reader sees, I write the summary last. I like to get a full sense of accomplishments and themes before I head up to write the summary. It’s kind of like trying to write the back cover of a book before the book itself is complete. I look at themes to get keywords out of experiences and accomplishments. Things like Product Management, Cost Controls, Operational Streamlining, and Systems Architecture are areas that may stand out when I reread the rest of the résumé. Someone told me today he heard of a colleague saying he optimizes your résumé as the SEO Résumé Writer. Well, all good writers should be doing that, so don’t be fooled. You do it too by adding those keywords.
Then, as I’m looking at accomplishments and the keywords I’ve culled, I start to see the picture of the individual. It also helps to have clients answer the question, “Why should an employer hire you?” That’s the crux of the summary, really. If you can’t share that in 30 seconds or less, you’re headed to the “no” pile. So think about it. What do you bring? Why are you the best candidate?
Too many clients will tell me they’re nice people or reliable, the soft skills you might have said in an interview 10 years ago. While it’s great to be the person in the office everyone likes, it’s more substantial to share some back-able, quantifiable results you can bring. Think about what you do. Are you the best marketing person, who has successfully expanded brand recognition through your initiatives? Do you create solutions for clients following development of a relationship?
Another trick is to look at the job description. They give you the answers right there, so use them! If the job write-up says they want someone with a demonstrated track record in supply chain management and channel development, make sure you write a sentence about that in your summary and add those words into your keywords section. No need to reinvent the wheel. Most companies are sifting through résumés with a scanning system, so the more words you use in your résumé from the ad, the better your chances of being found.
While there is an art to creating an eye-catching summary, these hints should get you started on the right track. Try to stay objective about yourself and look at your accomplishments from a new viewpoint so you can brag a little!