Useful Tips for Writing the Summary on Your Résumé

Useful Tips for Writing the Summary on Your Résumé


The most critical portion of your résumé is the summary/overview of your skills. It should be the first item on your resume right under you name and contact information. Often a hiring manager or recruiter doesn’t get past a summary, so make it count!

Imagine being bombarded by many hundreds of résumés coming in a few days. Would you take the time to read each and every document? Not likely. Recruiters often have multiple positions to fill simultaneously, so you need to get to the point quickly as to who you are and what value you offer a potential employer.

Creating an accurate and effective summary is key to getting a job interview, yet it is the most difficult for most of us to compose.  You may be losing opportunities because your summary falls flat and doesn’t invoke interest.

Here are some tips for writing an effective summary:

  • Your summary is an overview of your career as it applies to the job you are going after. So keep your summary focused on the skills and experience you have that are relevant to the position you are applying for. Don’t fall into the trap of listing everything you have done in your career. Recruiters only care about information that is relevant to the open position.
  • Study the job description and customize your career summary for the open position. Extract out of your résumé the skills and experience needed for the open position.
  • List additional skills you may have that a company may find as a value. For example, if you are fluent in Spanish or have a certification in your vocation, make sure to add this to your summary.
  • If you have advanced degrees make sure to list it in your summary. If you graduated from an Ivy League school also make sure to include this information.
  • A summary should tell a story. It is your “elevator pitch.” Be concise in your delivery of your talents and experience. Make it interesting and innovative.
  • A summary should be no more than 5-6 sentences. Don’t get caught up in detail, just list your pertinent skills for the position.
  • Consider having a professional writer or career coach write your summary.
  • Make sure that what you say in your summary corresponds with the rest of your résumé.
  • Use key search words that correspond with the job description. Many companies use a computer program to do an initial scan of résumés.

Having a compelling summary is essential to getting an interview. It is the most important part of your resume. Spend time on perfecting your message and the number of interviews will increase. I guarantee.


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  • For all those "headhunters" out there like Terri, believing the right resume gets you in for a job.....don't bet on it.

    Many companies today are using part time employees from job agencies. Who gets picked? The "Headhunter" who spends the most on the client (employer).

    Sometimes it could be many lunches, pizzas or at times, tickets for Bulls or Hawks games.

    I knew a govt. HR employee down in Florida, who wanted $10,000 from the job agency to place a person at the govt. job. Sure it is a "kickback", but he got his money!

    There are many good people, out of work, looking for a job. There are many job agencies trying to place people at jobs. The point of this story is there are many HR people at companies trying to take advantage of both employees and job agencies by "milking" the system. These HR people will spend months looking to fill a position, while getting free meals, free sports tickets and anything else they can get.

    Not only HR people are taking advantage, there are the "buyers" for corporations who making big time $$$ by selecting the right contract for their employer's company. One guy I knew, had a house up in Fox Lake, filled with all kinds of goodies from various vendors. This guy could have open up his own appliance store. The guy worked for a roofing material company. Spending his employers money, and benefiting on his own end with free gifts in return as a kickback for selecting the vendors contract.

    Sometimes it takes more than a good resume to land that job through a "headhunter". It might take 4 seats for this Wednesday Hawks playoff game to get that job.

  • Hi Cubstalk, I always appreciate your comments. I must disagree with you on this one. Headhunters are paid by the company to fill a position. In retained search, of which I have the most experience, we only contact those candidates who meet the job requirements. These people are already employed in most instances, so I wasn't suggesting that going through a headhunter was the way to go though having your paperwork them a few is a great idea. There are no kickbacks in the headhunter world. It is a cold search for the most qualified people for an open position. No really sure what you are talking about here and how it relates to having a great resume which everyone should have. Perhaps, you have dealt with contingency recruiters who have not treated you professionally they are working on straight commission and only get paid if they place someone, but even then a company hires the most qualified for the open position and it is not based on free Cubs tickets.

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