Yes, You Need a Resume Summary Statement. Here’s Why.

November 29, 2022 | By | 4 Replies More

Resume Summary

A resume summary is the face and personality of your resume. It is your introduction, telling the reader they should get to know you.  Source: Canva.com

Do you really need a resume summary? Yes, you do! Studies have shown over half of recruiter-scanned resumes were disregarded for missing a professional summary statement.

 

In this post:

 

Trends come and go, and resumes are no exception. At one time, every resume was expected to have an Objective statement, regardless of what stage a person was in their career.

As time went on, the objective became a no-no for seasoned professionals and executives. For these groups, a professional summary replaced the objective on the resume. That makes sense to me.

Once again, this part of the resume is being debated. As I reviewed resumes, I began to notice how many candidates omitted their summaries. They went straight into their experience sections.

 

resume Summary on a resume

Source: Canva.com

“Where are your professional resume summaries?” I would ask.

 

The responses were always the same: “Recruiters don’t read them.” Or, “They’re a waste of space.”

 

I see. Yet, it stumps these skilled professionals why their resumes are not getting them interviews.

 

 

In a 2018 heat study of how recruiters read resumes, top job site, The Ladders, found that recruiters spend only six to seven seconds scanning each resume before deciding to read more, or move on. They scan-read resumes in F- and E-patterns. The study showed that recruiters looked up and down the left column. They focus on bold headings, and then read the overview at the top of the first page of the resume.

Perhaps if the resume summary wasn’t there, recruiters might have an incentive to focus on the experience section, instead of wasting time on the professional summary. I disagree.

 

A summary statement is like a movie trailer; it quickly captures an audience’s attention — except, in this case, your audience consists of recruiters and hiring managers. Your summary is a short written statement highlighting your most notable achievements and job qualifications. It’s also similar to your interview or networking ‘elevator pitch’ — those first 30 seconds you have to sell a recruiter or hiring manager on why you deserve a job.” Chegg Life [Emphasis added]

 

 

What is a resume summary?

If we consider the objective statement obsolete, why not the resume summary statement ? What’s the difference?

A resume objective is a statement focused on your needs. It tells the reader what you need and how you want the company or position to help you. An objective statement tells the recruiter: I have these skills, I’ve done this kind of work, and I want to use these qualities in this type of position.

A resume summary, or professional summary, is employer-focused. Your goal—to land a desired position—is the same, but it’s much more. You are no longer asking what a company can do for you; you are telling a company what you can do for them. It summarizes your history and tells your target employer how you will add value to a specific role. It shows a company the value you have added to companies in the past, letting them see how you can add value to them in the future.

Finally, the resume summary statement helps you brand yourself. A professional resume summary should include a title, telling the reader who you are, which is also what an objective lacks.

 

 

How a resume summary helps your interview chances

Your professional summary offers an immediate opportunity to highlight your most outstanding accomplishment(s) relevant to your target job.

Instead of chancing that a recruiter won’t see your remarkable contributions because they’re buried in bullet points within your resume, include your best one at the top, in your resume summary. When you do, you give a recruiter the desire to continue to read your resume, and see the rest of your accomplishments.

 

Octavia Gordema resume summary

Learn more about Octavia Goredema at https://www.octaviagoredema.com/

 

No contest

A professional resume summary statement can be a tie breaker between two equally qualified candidates.

Imagine you need a particular service, and a friend hands you brochures from two companies. But, the companies offer the same services at the same prices. What to do?

You visit their websites to learn more. Service A repeats the list of their services and pricing, with a few testimonials. Service B has an introductory paragraph on their homepage. It tells you how long they’ve been in business. It provides a few photos of their best work, and mentions work done on a project identical to the one for which you need them.

The resume summary is a website’s intro paragraph on your resume. In the example above, most likely you would choose Service B. They gave you confidence by giving you insight into who they are, showing you their work, and mentioning experience for the same project with which you need help.

 

Make a connection

Everyone knows inside connections are helpful in landing a job. Well, you may not have an actual connection, so use your summary to help you connect.

Your resume summary is a face showing your professional personality. The words you use reveal something about you. Words such as “driven,” “seasoned,” or “strategic” give a picture of who you are.

Making a connection helps recruiters as they try to gauge culture fit, one of the most important factors in hiring.

Both recruiters and managers look for qualifications that align with the job description. Hiring managers, however, want to learn a person’s motivation behind their resume. The professional summary and cover letter are windows giving them a peek at who you are.

 

Give them a break

Recruiters abhor having to read enormous walls of text, or even large paragraphs throughout a resume. Still, the resume summary offers a nice reading break.

“The one thing most people fail to understand as they create resumes filled with facts, figures, and lists of accomplishments is that today’s companies and hiring managers are inundated with tons of resumes that follow that same approach. And if your resume is as dry and dull as all of those, it’s not likely to receive the attention that it needs to earn you a second look,” explains ZipJob.

 

Professional Summary

 

Offer a bit of direction

For career changers, or pivoters, a professional summary tells a recruiter from the start what’s happening. It helps them link you to the present position when you’re changing careers.

By mentioning that you are transitioning, they can follow along as you explain how the various skills you have are transferable. Your resume summary helps them make sense out of an otherwise seemingly irrelevant, and unqualified, resume.

As a recruiter scans your resume, they have many questions in their mind as they first glance at it. They appreciate your summary resume because it’s easy to find (naturally, being at the top of the page). It offers an immediate snapshot, helping them decide whether to read through the rest of your resume.

 

An extra push through an ATS

Getting screened out by an ATS (applicant tracking system), which most companies now use,  has become a job seekers biggest fear. It doesn’t have to be this way. A professional summary is helpful in preventing your resume from getting dumped. It’s an ideal place to include the top qualifications (read: keywords) listed in a job ad.

Right from the start, an ATS picks up keywords from your resume summary, if used correctly. You can use a professional summary to naturally incorporate key phrases, something not always easy to do in a bulleted list.

An ATS isn’t your enemy. A poor resume is.

 

Why so many resumes lack summaries

If resume summaries are this important, why do so many people omit them? Why do people believe recruiters don’t read them, or that they are a waste of valuable resume real estate?

My guess is because resume summaries aren’t the easiest to write. Which is why people adopt advice that tells them they are no longer needed. (You can find similar advice for cover letters. But you’re really tossing caution to the wind if you send a resume without one!)

Professional summaries seem hard to write because they’re not thought about until the moment a person needs a job. A heightened sense of desperation tells them, “Get this resume out to as many companies as possible,” making the task of writing a summary appear to be a waste of time.

 

 

Instead of sending out tailored resumes to jobs they’re targeting, it feels prudent to create (and copy) one “good” resume, and send it to as many companies as possible. The hope is that the more resumes they get out, the higher the chance that someone will call. It becomes a game of odds. Sadly, in this game, the odds are rarely in the job seeker’s favor.

It’s this heightened sense or urgency that causes poor judgment of not writing one. Why is this poor judgment? One of recruiters’ biggest turn offs are resumes that are not tailored to the jobs for which they’re hiring. According to stats from CareerBuilder.com, non-tailored resumes that do get past an ATS still account for 54% of resumes getting rejected by a recruiter. So, it’s not good enough to customize a cover letter, only to include a generic resume. The resume itself needs to fit each specific job.

 

resume summary

Learn more about She Assists, LLC at https://www.sheassistsllc.com/

 

Writing your resume summary

I hope I’ve convinced you of the importance of a professional resume summary. The next step is writing one. Ziprecruiter.com offers this excellent tip:

 

“Write it last: The summary statement is usually enough to stop most job seekers in their tracks. So, you might find it helpful to write it last. When you’ve already tweaked your entire resume for that specific job posting and have become intimately familiar with what that employer is looking for, it’ll be much easier to author a few relevant sentences that properly introduce you as a suitable candidate.”

 

This is a great tip. The act of writing the body of your resume will reacquaint you with your earlier positions, achievements, and even qualities you forgot you had. It lessens the pressure from trying to “wing it” when writing your resume summary first. It builds your confidence, removing a bit of that “imposter syndrome” many people have when writing a powerful professional summary, but not having a clear picture of how accomplished they are.

Following this article is a free resume summary workbook for you to download and print, to help you write your professional summary. I recommend, however, that you don’t begin this exercise until after you’ve written your resume.

 

Takeaway

Can you land a great job without a resume summary? It’s possible. Maybe if the rest of your resume is stellar, boasting outstanding qualifications, and a recruiter has plenty of time to read. Or you’re targeting a position where history isn’t relevant because the job is entry level. But why would you chance it? This is your career we’re talking about!

Unless a company is very small, your resume has to go on a journey. First, it has to pass through a company’s ATS. Second, it has to hold a recruiter’s attention. Third, it needs to convince a recruiter that they should call you for a screening or interview. Last, if you make it past the screening, a hiring manager will check the resume and will decide to interview you. Or not.

Keep in mind each of those stages as you write your resume. I don’t need to tell you that job hunting is a challenging process. You quite possibly are living it. But don’t make things harder for yourself in the long run. With a great resume, beginning with an effective professional summary, you’ll have a better chance of coming out ahead in the end.

 

Your turn: Are you among many others who struggle with writing a resume summary statement, or find some other part of a resume difficult? In the comments below, share your thoughts.

 

Download your free Resume Summary Workbook


 

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Category: Featured, Job Search, Resumes

About the Author ()

Pamela La Gioia has been researching and writing about remote work since the early 1990's. She is the Senior Career Specialist of RemoteWork Source, the leading provider of technical and professional remote career opportunities.

Comments (4)

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  1. Trevor Burke says:

    Thank you for this post! I am (once again!) rejuvenating my Profile, Summary, resumes etc. I agree that writing the Summary is tortuous! This will help.

    Thank you.

  2. Suzanne says:

    Nice article

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