Does your resume still have an objective statement? If so, it’s time for an update!
Objective statements tell an employer what YOU are looking for. “Objective: to obtain a professional accounting position.” The problem? Employers don’t care what you’re looking for. Objective statements don’t give the employer any useful information about who you are as a person, a professional, or what you would bring to their company.
The solution? Switch your resume format to include a branding statement or summary section.
While essentially the same thing, branding statements and summary sections differ only slightly. A branding statement is typically 2-3 sentences which focus on your most marketable skills and impressive accomplishments. It reflects what you are (or want to be) known for professionally. A summary section includes a branding statement-like paragraph that tends to be a smidge longer at 4-6 lines, and generally includes a bulleted selection of your top skills or “core competencies,” as well.
Whichever version you choose depends on your career field and industry standards. For most fields, a summary section is now standard practice, so we’ll focus on that terminology for today.
If you want to see how a summary section could look on your resume, check out my FREE resume templates and tip sheets :
Please let me know if you’d like to see resume templates and tip sheets for a different career or life stage. I’m always up for a new project! ?
Honestly, writing the summary section is probably the most difficult task in resume creation. How do you wrap up your entire career — or lack thereof — in one paragraph and a handful of bullets?? If you’re wordy (like me), you may struggle to be concise. If you’re generally short and sweet in your writing, you may be stumped as to how to fill up so much space.
No matter your writing style, here are my three best tips for crafting a KILLER summary section that will have employers digging deep into your resume, instead of just scanning. ?
1) Write it LAST.
Attempting to write the summary section first is like trying to build a log cabin without first cutting down the trees. You have no raw material to work with!
Once you have fleshed out and polished your work experiences, you’ll be able to clearly see what your best accomplishments and strongest skill sets are. Those strengths and achievements are what you want to include in your summary section.
You don’t want to just copy & paste from your experience section, though. Be sure to rephrase your accomplishments, consolidate your repeated themes into a cohesive skill set, and make the section flow smoothly.
2) Focus on measurable, demonstrable skills.
Launching into a resume with a statement like “Hard-working people person with strong communication skills and great leadership potential…” might as well be the kiss of death for your chances with that position. Not only are those descriptors and skills completely subjective, they also give the employer no helpful information about who you will be as an employee or what you will bring to the company.
So, avoid over-used phrases — like the entire example above — and stick to measurable, demonstrable skills. As you review your bullets in your experience section, what skills stand out? Leadership and staff management? Teaching and instruction? Project design and implementation?
Take your experiences and find 12-15 “core competencies” to demonstrate what you bring to the table. Then, boil those core competencies down to the 3 or 4 BIG themes you want to highlight in your summary. For example, my greatest strengths are in teaching, organization, and writing. Those three skills are what I highlight in my summary.
This section is where you can show off your personality and unique contribution. What do you want employers to see that you are all about? Blend your unique giftings with a solid focus on what the EMPLOYER wants in a new hire, and you have job search GOLD, my friend.
3) Highlight skills and abilities from the job description.
When in doubt, always turn to the descriptions in the job posting. If it mentions three times throughout the posting that they are looking for someone with staff leadership experience and the ability to motivate a large staff, and you HAVE that experience and ability, TALK IT UP! Use the information the employer gives you as a guide, and run with it.
This process is also a great chance for you to make sure this particular position would be a good fit for you. If the job posting talks repeatedly about public speaking skills, and you would rather poke your eyeballs out with a fork than stand up in front of a crowd, this job is NOT going to be one you enjoy or succeed in. However, if you LOVE public speaking and have spent a large portion of your career conducting trainings or giving presentations, you will do great in this position!
Comb through the job posting and pull out at least 3-4 skills that seem most important to the employer, then match your experiences with those skills. Crafting a KILLER summary statement is as simple as marrying what YOU have with what the EMPLOYER wants.
You can DO this!
Do you need a bit more guidance?
As always, if this all just sounds like way more work than you have time or energy for, let me do it for you. I can get your resume drafted, polished, and application-ready in no time, and you’ll have more time for everything else you need to do. It’s one less thing for you to worry about! Just click the button below to get started. ?
As a former University Resident Director, Career Counselor, Certified Personality Trainer, and high school Spanish teacher, Laura has quite the “scattered” background — with one underlying theme: education! She writes to teach and inspire women on topics related to faith, family, and lifework. She is also a resume writer, specializing in resumes for moms, career changers, and new graduates.