Get your resume to stand out to hiring managers for longer than the average of 6 seconds with these secrets.
Hiring managers look at resumes for an average of 6 seconds. An average of a few seconds implies that most resumes are just being glanced at.
The top of your resume is typically the first place that resume reviewers look. And the first impression matters a lot. That's why your resume header can have the most influence on whether your resume lasts longer than just a glance.
Resume reviewers need a strong nudge to continue looking at the rest of your resume. When written correctly, a professional resume summary is the fastest way to deliver the best pitch about your candidacy.
There are various ways to phrase your resume summary to best position yourself for the job, depending on your level of experience.
But what exactly is the best way to phrase your resume summary?
In this guide we’ll cover:
A resume summary is a concise set of statements at the top of your resume that highlights your qualifications, skills, and experience relevant to the job opening. This section is also referred as:
Resume summaries go underneath your contact information, making it the second most important section on your resume if you use one. This section is almost always mandatory.
Resume summaries are perfect for candidates that have relevant work experience and skills to the job description.
A great resume summary is a concise set of sentences that include:
Here's an example of a resume with a strong summary
Now that you know what you’re trying to say in your resume header, let’s dive into the qualities of a strong resume summary that make your resume stand out.
Your resume summary can only stand out if it includes experience, skills, and achievements that are relevant to the job opening.
Resume summaries that stand out the most are tailored to the job description. It’s good practice to extract the top keywords from the job description and put it in your resume summary.
The more specific your summary is to the job description, the better. This also helps your resume score points for passing the screening of an Applicant Tracking System.
That’s why the first and most important step to write a compelling resume summary is to read the job description.
A common mistake that candidates make is writing a generic resume summary that is irrelevant to the exact job opening.
Great resume summaries include quantified achievements. Attaching numbers to your resume profile helps recruiters see your potential.
For example, some powerful numbers that you can include on your resume summary:
Another impactful tactic for a resume summary is to describe your statements as actions.
Employers want to know about what you actually did in your career. Not necessarily what your current company did. Save those points for your work experience section or for the actual interview.
Use strong action verbs to help emphasize your points. Especially verbs mentioned in the job description! Take a look at our list of 350+ action verbs to get a head start.
Tip: Use action verbs on your resume
Try to stay away from phrases like "Responsible for" and "Worked on"
Let's apply our learnings. A bad example of a resume summary might look like this:
I am an experienced Healthcare Sales Rep responsible for selling software to large hospitals. I closed many deals and generated a lot of revenue for the hospital. I want to continue selling healthcare software but to larger hospital chains.
This candidate is definitely not going to pass the 6-second glance. Let's turn that into a better resume resume based on our guidelines:
Healthcare sales executive with 5+ years of experience generating over $2M in revenue selling to large hospitals. Skilled in winning deals in a competitive space with slow adoption. Hired and currently manage a team of 15 sales professionals who have colelctively sold $5M of software. Looking to apply skills and experience in selling EMR systems to large hospital chains.
Bad resume summaries mention only responsibilities and personal goals that are irrelevant to the job.
You want to make it easy for the hiring manager to decide that your resume matches the open role. But if you know that your experience is already very strong, then it’s okay to save the space on your resume for your work experience.
But what if you don’t have relevant experience for the job? A resume objective would be a better strategy for you.
A Resume Objective is completely different than a resume summary.
While a resume summary is focused on your past experience, a resume objective describes your motivations that are aligned with the employer’s goals.
A resume objective is perfect for someone who has little to no relevant experience to the job. This can be particularly useful for job seekers such as
Resume objectives also need to use strong action verbs and include quantified results. A strong resume objective for a student often includes:
Here's an example of an entry level candidate's resume summary:
Political science honors student in the top 10% of the clas. Organized 60+ group case studies as Vice President of the university's consulting club. Looking to apply organizational, written, and analytical skills at a top consulting firm.
If you’re changing careers and have irrelevant experience, position your resume best by including:
The most common mistake that’s made when writing a resume objective is stating a personal goal that isn’t relevant to the job. You want to entice your employer to read further by letting them know that you can do the job.
Tip: Focus on what the employer wants
Market yourself as someone who has the skills and foundation to succeed in the job.
When you have little to no relevant experience to the job, you can still use the top of your resume to demonstrate that you have what it takes to do the job.
But don’t go overboard. Often times resume objectives lean more towards describing your needs vs the employers. The goal of your resume is to market your candidacy to employers. So only include a resume objective if you’re sure it does just that. Otherwise, save the valuable space on your resume for other sections.
We've compiled a list of resume summaries for you. Use these as a reference for creating your own resume summary.
So remember, strong resume summaries are:
A strong resume summary is one of the most strategic ways to draw attention to your resume and get employers to keep reading it.