Don't forget this key section of your resume—it's your first chance to impress hiring managers
As jobseekers scour jobsites for potential relevant openings, it behooves them to apply to as many positions as possible. Of the applicants who send out their resume 1 to 10 times, only 12.6% book 3 to 7 interviews, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But of the applicants who send out their resume 21 to 80 times, 33.4% book the same amount.
Of course, in order to get considered for any role, it's key to write a powerful resume that meets the requirements of the job. One thing that can help make the case for why you're a good fit is the summary, written at the top of the page just under your name and contact info.
"There are so many challenges when it comes to putting together who you are, what you do best on a piece of paper," says Octavia Goredema, career coach and author of "Prep, Push, Pivot." "But the resume summary is the one standout opportunity that you have to demonstrate what makes you a strong candidate."
Here's how career experts recommend you go about writing it.
'What are the three things that you're known for?'
Since a resume summary is relatively short, you want it to pack a punch.
In terms of what it should include, consider, "What are the three things that you're known for? What's a good summary of your best experience? … And then what are you looking to do next?" says Julie Bauke, founder and chief career strategist with The Bauke Group.
Some combination of those three should give them a powerful sense of who you are and what you have to offer to the team.
When it comes to your work history, you want to "bring the highlights to the top," says Bauke.
'What aligns you so perfectly with this role?'
As with the rest of the resume, when you write your summary, try to mirror the language in the job description.
"Look at the language that the employer is using to describe the role," says Goredema. Look at the essential components of the job, she suggests, the qualifications and level of experience they want, even the adjectives they're using throughout the listing.
Then, given all of that, try to use similar language when writing your summary. Think, "What would you want the hiring manager to go and tell their boss about you?" says Goredema. "What is it that summarizes you, and what aligns you so perfectly with this role?"
Consider what makes you the perfect fit, and make sure to include it in their language.
'You've got the rest of your resume as supporting proof'
When it comes to the exact length of your summary, experts differ in opinion. Goredema recommends two to three sentences, Bauke recommends eight to 10. Ultimately, this might come down to the length of your resume.
If you've had extensive experience in your field, and your resume ends up being closer to two pages than one, you might have more room to write a longer summary. If you're sticking to a shorter resume, two to three lines may be your perfect length.
Regardless of which you go with, remember, your summary is only the beginning of your story. After that, "you've got the rest of your resume as supporting proof points" of your many career accomplishments, says Goredema.
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