How To Write An Impactful Summary

February 14, 2018 Resume Services

At Executive Drafts, we are big fans of a short, narrative introduction of your skills by writing a small summary. The idea is to write 3-4 lines of text that talk about how much experience you have, in what types of industries/verticals/markets, at what sort of companies, and any specific skill sets or areas of expertise you have. Basically, this is your “elevator pitch.”

A great summary does a few things. First, it breaks the ice instead of abruptly starting with your most recent job. The summary is your chance to phrase your entire career before they start looking at each individual job. When written well, it can also prime the reader for a few key concepts you plan to reinforce later in the document.

For example, a sales leader might mention “strong history of creating new partnerships and developing vendor relations to open up acquisition potential and new lines of business.” If he can reinforce that with actual experience, this will cement itself as a common theme of his candidacy. Without a proper summary, you’re relying on the recruiter to make an accurate judgment about you after only 6-10 seconds of reading. Let’s get them on the right path from the start. We write summaries for every single client resume.

An impactful summary should:

Not be too long. A good summary should be 3-4 lines of narrative (not bullets!) on the page. Every word on a resume needs to earn its spot, especially when referring to the summary.

Not use business jargon or convoluted, over-used phrasing. Phrases like “highly motivated,” “dedicated” and “results-driven” appear on a large proportion of resumes, and they’re usually ignored by recruiters and hiring managers, because they make the applicant seem generic and unimpressive. Focus on talking about your years of experience, industries and markets you’ve worked in, key strengths, and general history or background.

Begin with your title, or what you do for a living. Something like “Experienced mechanical engineer,” “Marketing student,” or “Recent MBA graduate and business professional” will get the job done. Make sure you tell the reader what you actually do!

Reflect your experience level, whether you’re an entry-level graduate or an experienced C-level executive. For college students or new grads, it’s ok to mention a few soft skills (strong communicator, team player, etc) or an “objective” statement, discussing what kinds of roles you’d like to pursue. Once you have substantial experience in your field, it’s time to forego soft skills in favor of concrete experience. While a CEO might indeed be hard-working, you shouldn’t list the same traits that an entry-level candidate may be listing too. Use good judgment!