There’s one thing you likely already know: If you still have an objective statement perched at the top of your resume, it’s time for some serious updating.
That formal (and, let’s be honest, totally useless) blurb of the past has since made way for something new: a summary statement.
So… uhh… what exactly is a summary statement? It’s a few short lines or bullet points that go at the top of your document and make it easy for the hiring manager to understand your experience and qualifications. Basically, it explains what you bring to the table for that employer.
It sounds simple in theory. But, if you’re anything like me, when you sit down to actually crank out that brief little blurb, you’re left staring at a menacing blinking text cursor for a good half hour. Yes, even I struggle with these—and I make my living as a writer.
Fortunately, there’s nothing like a little bit of inspiration to get your creative juices flowing. So, I’ve pulled together three real resume summary statements that are sure to get a hiring manager’s attention.
Extract some lessons from what these people did well, and you’ll take a little bit of the stress and pain out of writing your own.
Who Needs a Summary Statement?
Just wait—before we jump right into the samples, this is an important question to answer.
If you’re one of those people who has righteously told yourself, “Psh, summary statement? I don’t need one of those!”—well, you might be right, they work better for some people than for others.
“Summary statements are usually best for more experienced professionals with years of experiences to tie together with a common theme (read: brand). Or, alternatively, they can be used to tie together disparate experiences with a set of key transferable skills,” explains Muse writer, Lily Zhang, in her article on the topic.
If you’re someone with a pretty straightforward career history and path, that precious real estate might be better used for bullet points, rather than this type of paragraph. But, if you’re an experienced candidate or are changing careers? This could be just what you need to make your resume a little more cohesive.
1. Start by Saying Who You Are
Editorial-minded marketer and communications strategist transforming the way brands interact with audiences through content. With over seven years of experience at consumer startups, media companies, and an agency, brings a thoughtful perspective and blend of creative chops and digital data-savvy. Entrepreneurial at heart and a team player recognized for impassioned approach and colorful ideas.
Why it Works: “This is a great example of a concise and compelling summary because it explains who this professional is (first line), puts her experience into context (second line), and highlights her intangible strengths (final sentence),” explains Jaclyn Westlake, career expert, resume writer, and writer for The Muse, of this summary she worked on with a client.
But, what this statement does exceptionally well is start with a powerful statement about exactly who this candidate is and what she does. “If this were the only sentence a hiring manager read about this candidate, she'd still have a pretty good idea what this person is about,” Westlake adds.
2. Make it an Elevator Pitch
High-achieving Enterprise software account manager driven to increase sales in established accounts while reaching out to prospects. Help Fortune 500 companies gain a competitive edge and increase revenue by identifying customer needs, providing recommendations, and implementing technology products that solve problems and enhance capabilities.
Why it Works: One way to make writing your own resume summary statement easier? Think of it like an elevator pitch.
Since employers care most about what sort of value you can add to their organization, it’s smart to follow in the footsteps of this sample and use the bulk of your summary to emphasize not only what you do, but why it’s important.
“This summary clearly articulates who he is, whom he serves, and how he helps,” says Theresa Merrill, Muse Master Career Coach, of this client sample she provided.
Maybe you won’t use words like “gain a competitive edge” or “increase revenue” in your own statement. But, give some thought to how your skills and expertise help the overall organization, and then weave that into your statement.
DO YOU WANT HELP MAKING YOUR RESUME AWESOME?
Is there anyone who would say no to that?
3. Keep it Short
Award-winning journalist and digital producer offering extensive experience in social media content curation, editing, and storytelling. Adept at transforming complex topics into innovative, engaging, and informative news stories.
Why it Works: This one is significantly shorter than the other statements included here. But, that doesn’t mean it’s any less effective.
“It’s short and sweet,” says Merrill of this statement she wrote for a client, “It highlights his expertise right away with a word like ‘award-winning’ and also shares what makes him unique.”
When you’re trying to keep things to one page, you know by now that space is limited on your resume (here’s some great advice about what to cut, by the way). So, the more concise you can make your statement—while still ensuring it still packs a punch—the better.
If you do choose to move forward with a resume summary statement, remember to treat it as your own personal highlight reel.
“A summary isn't meant to be a regurgitation of the information already on your resume,” concludes Westlake, “It should serve to further enhance the reader's understanding of your experience, specialties, and strengths. It's also an excellent way to tie your work history together to help hiring managers better understand how your experience would translate into the role they're recruiting for.”
Think through what you bring to the table and then use these three samples as your inspiration, and you’re sure to craft a resume summary statement that grabs that hiring manager’s attention
TopicsResumes , Job Search , Syndication , Finding a Job , Resumes & Cover Letters , The Muse Editor's Picks
Photo of person on computer courtesy of JGI/Tom Grill/Getty Images.
Kat is a Midwest-based freelance writer, covering topics related to careers, self-development, and the freelance life. In addition to writing for The Muse, she's also the Career Editor for The Everygirl, a columnist for Inc., and a contributor all over the web. When she manages to escape from behind her computer screen, she's usually babying her rescued terrier mutt or continuing her search for the perfect taco. Say hi on Twitter @kat_boogaard or check out her website.More from this Author