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How to Write a Professional Summary on a Resume?

WHAT is a professional summary?

As the name suggests, it’s a brief summary of your skills, experiences, and goals as they pertain to a specific job opening. You can think of it as a very condensed version of a cover letter. The main goal of a resume summary is to make your most relevant skills and experience immediately discernible and in so doing make your resume stand out.

A resume summary is sometimes also called a qualifications summary, professional summary, resume profile, or a resume summary statement. It’s different from a resume objective. A resume objective merely lists your goals and should only be used if you’re a student, fresh graduate, or you’re changing careers — that is, if you don’t have any experience relevant to your desired job.

WHY should you include your professional summary on a resume?

The harsh reality is that recruiters only spent an average of 6 seconds looking at your resume. This means you have about 6 seconds to give them all the information they need. Otherwise your resume might easily end up in the bin.

How do your ensure your resume won’t get discarded? By putting a resume summary at the top of the page, of course! This way you’ll catch the recruiter’s attention from the get-go and increase your chances of getting the job.

HOW to write a professional summary in 5 easy steps

  1. Sum up what you have to offer to a potential employer. A resume summary should never revolve around what you want. Instead, it should clearly explain what value you can bring to a company you’re approaching. Adopt this mindset.
  2. Start with the job listing. Carefully reread the job listing and find the most important keywords. These are the nouns or phrases that best describe the job position, related skills, as well as the ideal candidate. Think about how they intersect with your own skills and experiences before you begin to write.
  3. Emphasise proven experience. Instead of simply listing your skills, mention your previous accomplishments. For example, it’s much more impactful to say that you had your articles published in the Forbes than plainly claiming that you’re a skilled writer.
  4. Structure it well. Take it from a professional writer — bullet points are a godsend when you need to structure your text clearly without giving it too much effort. Not only will they naturally give order your resume summary into clearly delineated logical parts, they will also make it look good and read well. Also, make sure your current job title is in bold.
  5. Keep it short. Your resume summary shouldn’t be longer than 5 short sentences (or bullet points). Having a long summary sort of defeats the point of having a resume summary at all.

RESUME EXAMPLE: Professional Summary (Recent Graduate)

  • MA English graduate with 5+ years of experience in creative writing.
  • Superior skill in communicating complex ideas in a clear and concise manner.
  • Achieved high academic honours while maintaining a part-time employment.
  • Minored in Marketing and closely familiar with SEO and the intricacies of writing for the web.

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