Should you use a career summary in your resume?

Professional Resumes Resume Writing Resumes

When presenting a resume to a prospective employer, you are essentially selling yourself. This includes not only selling your qualifications and abilities pertinent to the career you are seeking, but also selling your character, personality, and what makes you unique. Because employers typically have dozens of resumes to weed through before making decisions on which candidates to bring in and interview, they often don’t have time to carefully read each and every one. Especially ones with an objective on it (and I am not even going to touch on the subject of “objectives” right now… that could take up another blog post).  A well-written summary becomes your very first impression, and should catch the reader’s eye to give you that edge.
Your summary should highlight what your employer will find most important: any top skills and abilities you may possess, your best attributes and characteristics that will contribute to the job, and what makes you unique and best suited for the job. You’ll also want to include any experiences that relate to the job and its duties, your goals regarding the position, and what you as an individual can bring to the job or company that nobody else can. Each word and phrase should exude self-confidence in your ability and performance.  Because you’re selling yourself, feel free to use many descriptors and keyword action phrases about yourself and your abilities. Try to avoid generic terms such as “good” or “great”, or worse, phrases such as “excellent communicator” or “detail-oriented”. For example, if you wish to describe your leadership skills, rather than saying you are a “great leader”, instead state that you’re a leader because you’re a “turnaround champion” or “product evangelist” and then follow up with a brief summary why. Bring a previous experience in to back up your statement. Colorful words are a good way to make a fast impression, but it is even better to back those colorful words up with an ‘action zinger’ or actual background. Leave no room for doubt in your skills.
Resume summaries are typically written in two different styles: paragraph or bulleted. When using paragraph format, be sure to keep it no more than 4-5 lines long, as you don’t want to seem long-winded and lose the interest of the reader. These lines will typically be a listing of the qualifications you possess that will make a lasting positive impact on the employer. I usually follow that up with a bulleted keyword list to grab the reader’s attention.

When using bulleted style, you simply take those same lines and put them in bullets. You don’t necessarily have to have complete sentences when using bullets, though you can if you want to. Bulleted styles are not a way I do very often, but I’ve seen them done from time to time and they look really great.
Remember that when writing your summary, you don’t want to overload it with every single qualification and ability you possess. You want to showcase the ones that stand out the most to grab the reader’s attention and make him or her want to read the rest of your resume. Be sure you closely proofread your summary when it is complete, as even the most basic writing skills can make a negative impression if there are errors present. Write your article in first person present tense, as though you are saying ‘I’ “Offer full scale project management expertise”, just don’t actually use the personal pronouns.
With a well-written, concise summary, you should be successful in catching the interest of any prospective employer.