left Blue Sky Main Site

Menu

Career and job search help for creative professionals.

Career and job search help for creative professionals.

Blue Sky Resumes is a small team of professional writers and job search experts. We offer one-of-a-kind resumes, smart career advice and fantastic customer service. This is our blog.


Our Services

Want Us to Write Your Resume?

Read More

How to Write a Resume Summary that Grabs Attention


One of the key points I cover in my free resume writing course, is the need to stand out by writing a powerful resume summary.

You only get a very short amount of time to make an impression and a well written resume summary can make all the difference.

But I think the resume summary is one of the most misunderstood aspects of resume writing. Most people write summaries that are almost guaranteed never to be read.

Let me show you what I mean.

Here is a resume example that I recently received. I have disguised the client, but she gave me permission to share her original resume (which cost her $400 from another resume writer) along with the rewrite:

[click image to see a larger version]

This resume summary is typical of too many resumes. It may look and sound very professional but here’s the truth: No one will read it.

Every recruiter or hiring manager faced with that big block of text will simply skip it to get to the professional history. The only positive thing about the resume summary as it stands right now is the headline “Marketing Manager” which clearly communicates to recruiters who this candidate is and what types of jobs she should be considered for. Other than that, it’s useless.

So I’m going to take this resume and rework the summary in stages so you can see exactly how to spice up your own resume introduction.

First, let’s deal with the fact that it’s just a big block of text that no one will read. I’m going to try breaking it up and creating sub-headers and bolded text calling out the most important information recruiters need to know about this candidate. That way, if someone wants to skip the introduction, they’ll still learn some persuasive facts about Sydney:

That’s better but I still don’t feel the chunk of text in the middle is going to be read by most recruiters. I also think it’s filled with ‘fluff.’ Sydney may claim to be a “proactive manager, team player and tactical planner” who has “contributed to revenue growth” but who knows if that’s true?

Instead of making those unsubstantiated claims, I’m going to prove that they’re true by replacing all those words with short bullet points highlighting some of her best successes:

Better, but I wonder if I can do more? I wonder how I can use this resume summary to prove that Sydney is really something special? One possibility is to go to her LinkedIn page, look for endorsements and pull out some of the best quotes. I can then use them to provide third-party “proof” that Sydney is worth hiring.

I tried that here, and this version is evidence that I don’t always have the best ideas first time round!

I like the quotes, but I think they make the introduction too long and they distract from those compelling bullet points. A busy recruiter will probably just skip this whole section looking for the professional experience. I’ve just tried to do too much here.

But all that work led me to the final version – a resume summary that does everything I wanted.

I decided that I needed to get the focus back on those key facts that prove Sydney is a high achiever, so I selected just one quote to use. This quote says it all really and by setting it off to the side, we keep the introduction from being too long and too busy.

I have also redesigned the resume. Sydney is a marketing manager for the tech industry in 2011 so her resume shouldn’t look like something from 1986.

The redesigned resume summary may not be to everyone’s taste, but I would bet good money on it’s being more effective during a job search than the resume Sydney was using previously.

One last time here is the original resume:

And here is the new version:

Note that this exact approach may not be right for you. You may not have LinkedIn testimonials. A different approach to conveying value might be appropriate. (For example, highlighting awards you have won or starting your resume with a personal statement) The key to success is not to copy any one approach but to think of your resume summary as the place to grab attention and prove your value – and to do it in as concise a way as possible.

Good luck! And if you need step-by-step help in writing your resume, check out The Blue Sky Guide to Resume Writing. In this downloadable eBook, I walk you through the entire resume creation process from start to finish, just as I did in this blog post. Your resume will never be the same again!

Read more about Resume Writing.

Our Services

Want Us to Write Your Resume?

Read More

About the Author

Louise Fletcher

Louise co-founded Blue Sky in 2002 after a career as an HR executive. Her industry experience includes music, video games, fashion and advertising. She lived and worked in the US for many years, but moved back to her native UK in 2012, where she now lives in the Yorkshire countryside. In addition to her full-time role with Blue Sky, she's a professional artist, so you can imagine why she couldn't answer the 'what do you do with your free time' question! Contact Louise by email.

Sign up now to learn our FREE Resume Secrets!

Tired of being ignored? Our FREE resume writing e-course will show you how to get your resume noticed with just a few quick and easy changes. Transform your resume,boost your confidence, and land your dream job with 12 time-tested strategies. These simple, practical tips are delivered by email  and the first one will arrive as soon as you sign up.

Learn More

8 comments on “How to Write a Resume Summary that Grabs Attention”

  1. Dee says:

    Very helpful to see the various ways you tweaked the resume. I like the addition of providing a reference to Linked in recommendations and see how that could be helpful to both the candidate and the prospective employer. I wonder though, how your final revision will do with electronic screening software used by many companies today. Can you address that question?

  2. Hi Dee,

    I’m a big believer in people avoiding those systems whenever possible by networking, direct mailing, researching, using online presence building etc.

    That said, I think the answer to your question depends on the system. The one I used when I worked in HR accepted Word docs and I was able to open those Word docs from within the system, so this resume would be absolutely fine. Some other systems require users to upload their resume in text only and obviously that would mean this would have to converted, But the end result would still be an opening that was concise and much easier to read on the other end.

  3. Mandy says:

    An excellent article – with REAL advice which is easy to implement. Thanks!

  4. What if you are in a situation where you can’t quantify your results? I volunteer for a nonprofit. Right now I am in the works to develop a database for them to keep track of the students and the mentors who mentor them. They need one because it is a “cardinal-sin” in database to have MS Excel as a database and would make their work a heck of a lot easier. What metrics would you use to quantify something if your not sure of how much it would improve their efficiency. Thank you for taking the time to read this.

    Chaz

Leave a Reply

Like what you see? Sign up to get our very best stuff sent by email

We hate spam so we'll never do it and we'll never share your email address with anyone.

Article Topics

Blue Sky Resumes

is a small team of professional writers and job search experts based in the US and the UK. We offer one-of-a-kind resumes, smart career advice and fantastic customer service. We love what we do.

×

Like what you see? Sign up to get our very best stuff sent by email

We hate spam so we'll never do it and we'll never share your email address with anyone.