For many of us, writing a resume is a tedious—and sometimes painful—process. We’ve all spent long hours trying to recall and articulate what we’ve accomplished with the hopes of scoring a coveted interview with an organization that’s not soul-crushing. The unfortunate reality is that, without an engaging, impressive career overview or summary section on your resume, the rest of the document will likely go unnoticed.
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:
Qualitative data can be a great way to demonstrate your professional value, such as:
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
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.
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Very few of us will go through our entire careers without having some sort of break in our work history. Yet, despite how common these gaps are, these lapses can signify a red flag on the resume and could potentially hinder your chances of landing interviews. These gaps can (and should) be explained during the interview process, but they should not prevent you from being considered. Below are several ways that you can minimize the appearance – and significance – of gaps in your own resume.
Explore volunteer opportunities:
If you recently left a position, you may be feeling the stress of finding a new career. In this scenario, taking on unpaid work may seem like an unnecessary distraction from your job hunt. However, volunteer work can allow you to continue to develop skills and create new connections in your industry of interest. To find volunteer opportunities in your area, visit the following resources:
Volunteer Match provides useful filters featuring that allow you to search your areas of interest and identify opportunities you can contribute to in a hands-on or remote capacity.
Serve.gov falls under the umbrella of Corporation for National & Community Service. Here, you can research thousands of organizations nationwide and find volunteering opportunities that suit your interests.
Though Idealist primarily serves as a job board, this database also allows you to search nonprofit volunteer opportunities.
Founded in 1860, The Boys & Girls Clubs of America have been empowering youth for decades, and is a great way to become involved in your community.
Pursue contract work:
When you expect a professional break to last more than a few months – perhaps because you’re caring for a family member, raising a child, travelling or launching a side business, project-based roles can help keep your resume up-to-date and show your continued professional trajectory. One great way to land a contract role is through past employers. If you’re preparing to take a break from your 9-5, consider reaching out to current and recent employers to learn about potential remote, part-time and contractual opportunities.
Another great option is to explore the freelance job boards. Here are some of the most popular sites for contractors:
Requiring 15+ years of experience in either marketing or finance, the caliber of candidates and projects sets the The Second Shift apart from other freelancing job boards.
Upwork is among the most accessible freelancing sites, as it accepts individuals from all experience levels and industries.
A paid flex work job site, FlexJobs provides access to thousands of remote career opportunities with purchase of monthly, quarterly, and yearly memberships.
Sign up for a certification course:
If you left the workforce unwillingly, it can be hard to perceive your unemployment as a blessing. That being said, there is a lot to be gained from stepping out of a full-time obligation. During this period, it’s important for you to keep developing new skills and exploring prospective career opportunities. Returning to school, taking online courses, or teaching yourself new skills are all great ways to increase your marketability and bring more value to future employers.
It’s never easy to jump back into the career world after an absence, but by exploring new avenues, you can show prospective employers how committed you are to you career development and that you’re invested in your own success.
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Most resumes fall short of impressing prospective employers, largely because they fail to show the reader how the candidate’s experience would transfer to the role that they’re applying to. However, by including key details in your resume, you can highlight your relevant skillsets and effectively set the stage for the reader by giving them a sense of context for your previous work.
What is SSSR?
In the resume world, we use SSSR as an acronym for size, scope, sector and revenue. In writing your resume, try to work in each of these stage-setting goals for all of your previous roles. This information is critical to cleating a clear picture of your career history, giving the reader a sense of the company size, industry and clientele of your past employers. If you can use this information to draw parallels between your prior and prospective companies, you will be one step closer to getting called for an interview.
How to weave SSSR details into your resume
One simple way to incorporate this information is to begin each job section with a solid two-line overview of the company itself. Here’s an example of what this typically looks like:
Why it works
Within a single bullet, we have managed to capture all four of our SSRS stage-setting goals. We referenced the size/scope of the company (multinational, reaching three billion viewers). We provided their industry sector (media) and an approximate revenue figure ($25 million). Sharing this information with the reader helps to ensure that you will touch on an area that will resonate with them. It also gives them a framework for understanding the rest of the information that you provide about your tasks and accomplishments.
This simple step can be used to add impact to your bullets, creating a resume that appeals more to hiring managers.
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