Why Your Professional Summary Matters
You’ve likely heard the statistic that hirers spend less than six seconds looking at each resume. The truth is that you only have an initial 2-3 seconds to convince employers to keep reading. This time is critical to show the reader that 1) you actually spent time and energy on your resume, 2) that you’re qualified for the position and 3) that you’ve been involved in similar roles/projects. The profile section is the most important place to quickly and clearly communicate your highest-level capabilities to employers. A well-written summary section gives an overview your relevant experience, professional qualifications and most impressive accomplishments. Take the time to write an engaging profile section to make sure that your resume doesn’t land in the discard pile on the first review.
What Should I Include in My Summary?
It’s important to include both qualitative and quantitative details that show the reader what the scope and impact was of the work that you performed. Make sure to include details such as:
- Your current or desired job title.
- Years of experience. I suggest capping it at 15+ years due to the unfortunate presence of ageism. If you have less than five years of experience, feel free to say ‘several years of experience….’
- A broad overview of the types of companies you’re worked for: the sizes, sectors and revenue, client industries and any other categorical overviews are great to add in.
- Professional wins. If you managed budgets, recruited staff, or contributed to an increase in company revenue, highlight those accomplishments in your summary section.
Qualitative data can be a great way to demonstrate your professional value, such as:
- The clients and companies that you’ve worked with. If you’ve collaborated with industry leaders or subject matter experts, include these to showcase your value to prospective employers.
- Sectors and industries. Having experience in many different areas can be a benefit, so add these details in your summary.
What Should I Leave Out?
Your professional summary is not a career objective. Avoid stating what you want, focusing instead on what you provide. Keep this section as clear and impactful as possible, leaving out filler words like “strongly motivated,” “hardworking” and “a team player.”
Where Does the Profile Section Go? How Should I Format it?
Your professional summary is your introduction to potential employers, so make sure to feature it prominently at the top of your resume. There are different ways to format this section, including a bulleted list or as a paragraph. In most cases, bullets are easier for a reader to scan, especially if your sentences are densely-pack with numerical data and categorical lists.
Sample Career Profile Template
- <Desired Job Title> with ## years of experience contributing to <overview of your areas of specialization> on behalf of <types of companies you’ve worked with>.
- Track record of <your key accomplishments>.
- Career history of <promotions, awards or training and supervising teams>.
If your resume isn’t getting callbacks, try re-evaluating your summary with the above information in mind. A punchy and effective career summary can set you apart from the crowd, engage your audience, and land you job interviews.