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Why you Need a Professional Summary Statement
A professional summary is ideal if you:
Have three or more years of experience.
Are staying in your role but switching industries.
Are applying for a managerial or specialized position in your field.
A professional summary is not recommended for those with little to no experience in the position for which they are applying, career changers and those with long gaps in their resume. A resume objective statement sometimes called a career objective, is better suited to those job seekers, according to the experts at Glassdoor.
Not everyone uses a professional summary statement on their resume, and that’s exactly why you should if you meet the above qualifications. Employers typically read through hundreds of resumes in a week, so a professional summary is a good way to get noticed.
A great summary that’s tailored to the job does the following:
It presents your value to the company right away in order to entice employers to read through the rest of your resume.
It is a great place to use specific keywords from the job description to ensure your resume passes applicant tracking systems (ATS), which scan resumes for job relevance.
It is especially useful for job applicants with a wide range of title positions or a long work history because it helps you communicate directly about the most relevant job information.
What to Include in a Summary Statement
“A well-written professional summary ... should define a job seeker's key skills and provide an overarching, yet brief description of who they are, what they have done and what makes them stand out,” according to Pamela Weinberg, career coach and personal branding expert.
It’s crucial to present yourself in the best light with a professional summary statement. You have to start reviewing the job description carefully and noting the required soft and hard skills and job responsibilities. Then you have to think carefully about your work experiences and create a list of your top strengths, greatest achievements, top skills and what you enjoy doing, and match them to the job description. As you write, think about what the employer needs most and how you can help them.
Weinberg says that a “helpful prompt” to write your professional summary is "Who am I and what am I the 'go-to' person for?" Be sure to use keywords in the summary in order to attract the right attention from hiring managers.
A good rule of thumb is to use up to three strong adjectives (e.g., expert, certified, award- winning) to describe yourself, followed by your title (if it closely matches the job title), years of experience or education, and your top three to five skills and how you used them.
For example, in the resume below, Zelda’s uses her professional summary to describe herself as “high-performing,” with more than three years of experience, and then she lists her skills: managing two different groups of people and liaising with stakeholders.
Pro Tips for Writing your Professional Summary Statement
If you are changing your industry then focus on the skills you have that can be transferred to the new position. Transferable skills might include verbal or written communication, leadership or analytical abilities.
If you are applying to a specialized role in your field, highlight training or skills that apply to the position. For example, if you are a veterinary technician and you want a job as an emergency or critical care veterinary technician, then you could present yourself as “resilient with training in rehabilitative medicine and knowledge of advanced surgical techniques, such as endoscopy.”
For example, in the resume below, Ben uses his summary to emphasize his competence and efficiency at key tasks such as expense tracking and inventory management. He also communicates his ability to be flexible and proactive when work parameters change.
5 Tips for Writing Your Summary Statement
Make it concise. Employers should be able to determine your fitness for the job immediately. Five lines of crisp, short sentences or phrases describing your most relevant credentials are enough to make your argument.
Use descriptive and “active” language. Descriptive language paints a picture for readers, so it leaves a powerful impact, while the use of verbs makes descriptions dynamic and therefore compelling.
Do not use pronouns such as “I,” “she” or “he.” They take up needed space and they are unnecessary on a resume. Your readers know you are writing about yourself.
Focus on employer needs, not your goals. While hiring managers want to know your goals align with their needs, they are more concerned with their own needs and how you can solve their problems.
Use a title, but make sure it’s professional. “Professional Summary,” “Summary” or “Profile” work, but author and career development expert Pamela Skillings recommends using your title to express your professional identity. For example, “Expert Electrician” or “Seasoned Nurse.”
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