m-Pact Career Blog

from Marketing Talent Network

Writing a Summary for Your Resume

Increasingly, we have observed a wide variety of summary styles for resumes.  What we are going to talk about here is what makes the most effective resume summary (which we almost never see) and some summary styles to avoid in composing your resume.

The Traditional Resume Summary:  The most frequent resume that we see is a fairly short generic summary.  These are typically 3 to 5 lines in length, and are relatively generic.  They give a brief description of your background and experience.  This style of resume summary is moderately useful, but only moderately so.

Is the Summary too General?  In writing and reviewing your summary, one question to ask yourself is whether it is so general as to be meaningless — or worse, boring.  The last thing that you want on your resume is for the first thing the prospective employer reads to be something that puts them to sleep.  This is your introduction to the employer.  It must be something that creates interest and makes them want to read more.

The Summary as An Impact Statement:  One of my mantras, so to speak, is the importance of impact statements in your resume and your interviews.  An Impact Statement is something that tells the employer how you positively impacted your previous employers, and is the real answer to that all important question of “Why should I hire you?”  One way to make the summary a more effective and less boring part of your resume is to incorporate one or more impact statements.  Examples might include:

  • Consistently exceeded expectations as far as both revenue and profitability.
  • Added 27 large key accounts in my last three positions.
  • Successfully led turnaround efforts for five previously declining brands.
  • Have saved my last three employers approximately $5.3 million through cost controls.

Notice several common threads to each of these statements.  1)  They are all accomplishment oriented.  2) they are all true summary statements, encompassing more than one single position.  3)  They all involve some level of quantification of your accomplishments (not essential but a big plus).  And you tell me — if you were reviewing a resume, if you read any of those statements in the first two or three sentences of a summary, would you want to read more?  That is the purpose.

Targeting your Summary Statement:  Now we are going to take the concept of the impact summary described above one step further.  In this era of word processing, where it is so easy to make changes in your resume, consider editing the impact statement for a specific employment opportunity.  Let me give you a couple of examples.

Let’s say you are a marketing manager (or brand manager or product manager) that has some new products experience scattered through your career.  You identify an opportunity with Big Company A.  Because of conversations with your recruiter or from an Internet ad or from someone you know in that company, you are aware that one of the key components of this position is working with new products.  For this particular opportunity, invest a short amount of time to incorporate a strong statement of your new product experience into your summary statement.  For example, “Extensive experience in new products including the successful development and launch of 23 new products and line extensions.”  This not only places impact statements in your resume summary — you have created an impact statement directly related to the position for which you are applying.

Let’s now take another example for those of you in the sales profession, giving a couple of situations.  In this case we are talking about a National Account Manager that has experience in Office Products Superstores (including specifically Staples) and in the Mass Market (including specifically Target).  You have identified two different opportunities — one of them calling on Staples, and one of them calling on a number of Mass Market accounts (but not Target).  For the first job, you want to incorporate one or more impact statements into your summary focused on your effective expertise with Staples.  For the second job, you want to incorporate one or more impact statements on your broad based national account experience in the Mass Market.  Although you might mention Target in that last summary, simply because Target is such an important account — resist the urge to focus on your Target experience.  Doing that may create an impression that you are only truly interested in positions calling on that account.

The Run-on Summary Statement:  The biggest mistake that we see with summary statements is for them to go on and on and on and on . . .  We have seen so-called “summary statements” that actually take up almost all of the first page of a resume.  This is typically done by someone who keeps adding and adding “information” to it, afraid that they might leave out something important.

Understand that the summary statement is not supposed to take the place of your resume.  It should not be so long that you are, in effect, turning your resume into the dreaded functional style.

The summary statement should be a teaser.  The primary purpose that it should fulfill is to make the person reading the resume want to read more.  The better resume summary does this by using impact statements.  The best resume summary goes one step further by incorporating one or more impact statements directly related to the position for which you are applying.




May 29, 2008 - Posted by | Tips - Resumes and Cover Letters, Uncategorized

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