Starting a resume off on the right footing can make a world of difference for your job application package. A focused, well-written resume needs a clear line of development, and while the resume objective used to set that line with a very specific statement, its use has faded with time. Today, a resume with an objective looks dated. Creating a strong summary is now the preferred way to begin a resume, and it’s important to understand why the summary statement became popular.
The summary statement provides an overview of your qualifications and skills in a way that speaks to the requirements in the job description. Keep reading to learn more about summary statements for resumes, and how you can write a powerful and detailed statement that does more than your objective ever could. Us the provided examples to help guide yourself as you write.
How To Write a Summary Statement
While it might seem a bit challenging if your prior experience only includes the resume objective, the summary statement provides an opportunity to say more with your opening. However, if you don’t write in short phrases or curate your content effectively, you can confuse your reader with unnecessary details.
Start by brainstorming your strongest skill attributes and most impressive accomplishments in your recent work history. Remember, the best choice for a spotlight accomplishment that you will emphasize is going to be the most impactful one for the job’s specific requirements, so you will want to revise your summary for each new job.
Once you finish brainstorming your strongest two or three skills and the best accomplishment to put front and center in your summary statement, make sure you find a way to connect the two of them. You can add context to their relationship in later sections of your resume.
Finally, organize those points together so that you have a three-point summary that covers the length of your experience in the field and in the specific position in question. Include one or two of your most-developed and relevant skills and an accomplishment that calls attention to your promise in the role by showing the kinds of deliverable results you can bring to the job.
There are a couple of ways to set this section up. One is a brief, three-sentence paragraph, and the other is through the use of a bulleted list. See the examples below for a demonstration of each style.
Seasoned technical writer with five years of experience crafting instructional materials for trade equipment in the healthcare industry. Instituted new editing and instructional testing protocols to increase the quality of departmental product. Excellent spoken communication abilities, including cross-training skills and collaboration skills.
• Experienced technical writer with five years in roles writing instructional materials for medical equipment
• Instituted new protocols for third-party feedback on finished product that gained department-wide adoption
• Spoken communication skills included duties cross-training other employees on new products and models
5 Summary Statement Must-Haves
1. Clear goals
Like the resume objective, the summary statement needs to set a goal. It’s easy to get caught up in the moment and forget that, especially if you are focusing your writing on showing your skills and experience.
Unlike the objective, you do not need to mention that you are seeking a job. Instead, your goal should be to show the most compelling reason you fit the job as a combination of three factors. The first is your experience and training, the second is your skill set, and the last one to bring in is your demonstrable accomplishments. You can introduce them in any order, but you need to make sure they relate to one another.
2. Quantified experience
Even if you don’t state a specific number of years in the position, you want to be able to include some kind of clear reference to your experience. Generalize it a little by using words such as “seasoned” or “well-versed” if you want to avoid numbers up front, but then include a quantifiable figure later on as an example of how long your job duties included a specific task.
3. Skill specifics
You want to state your skill level or quantify your experience with that skill to show how much development you have done in that area. The key is to discuss your skill directly or describe an activity that brings attention to that ability. You see this in the sample above, where the applicant mentions a specific amount of experience in a specialized subfield with a title that implies certain basic medical knowledge.
4. Active language
It might seem simple, but grammar does matter. In this case, active language helps the reader browse the information in a resume quickly. It also facilitates the easy visualization of examples by minimizing the amount of wordiness, so there is less to sort through. Make sure you fully edit your summary for passive language to keep it moving.
Active language helps with this, but knowing how much detail to leave for later in the resume helps too. Make sure you have an example or two of your skills and experience in the summary, and try to pick something important you can elaborate on. Remember, though, that the three-point format is there for a reason. Keep your statement confined to it.
Top Summary Statement Takeaways
The resume objective is a bit dated, but by pivoting to a summary, you can bring out the same information with more clarity and detail. The summary provides a little more space than the objective does, and it also helps organize your approach to the later sections of the resume more directly. Most importantly, though, it provides more relevant information to hiring managers up front.
Providing the best, clearest map through the statement helps ensure your reader will be looking for the most relevant parts of your resume during a read-through. That, in turn, makes your resume stand out from the pack. It’s a matter of cutting as much extra wordiness as possible while being specific with your examples, and it takes practice. A strong summary makes a resume look incredibly sharp when executed well.