Your Resume’s Career Summary Is What Sets You Apart

Resume with Summary of Qualifications

One of the problems with resume advice is that it’s conflicting. For example, you’re told to tell your complete story, but be concise. How do you strike the balance?

At the end of the day, your resume has to cover the big themes of your career in a way that promotes your best work and maximizes your chances of being considered for a position. One way to do that is with the Career Summary, a one- to three-paragraph synopsis of your career. Don’t confuse it with an “Objective” or “Career Objective” statement–those are meant to give managers a sense of your goals and the job you’re looking to get. The career summary is designed to answer one big question: What makes you a good fit for this startup?

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It’s a Story

People remember stories and not corporate speak. Focus on the value you’ve brought to employers throughout your career. Then take that value and work it into a one- to three-paragraph story about how your career has helped them.

This isn’t as easy as it sounds. The summary needs to be exciting and incent the reader to look further down. The objective is to create a compelling, short narrative that demonstrates your value.

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The rest of the resume is all about your job skills, accomplishments and results. Very academic, very bland. Seriously, whoever thought “Delivered 42 projects on time and under budget resulting in a 4.2 customer satisfaction rating” was thrilling literature? No one.

Consequently, the career summary is a great opportunity to help the reader understand the person you are and the value you bring. Write the summary in a way that personifies all that—and your point of view.

Rewrite, Rewrite, Rewrite

To be different from all the others out there, your career summary will take a couple of iterations to write. Or more. After all, we don’t think of ourselves as a story to be told, and we certainly don’t think resumes should come across as personable. Instead, they usually seem like job skill automatons, working hard to produce dry results to an unnamed entity.

We don’t have a lot of practice writing about who we are, the theme of our career and how it came about. But that is what career summaries need to do.

Career summaries can differentiate you from the crowd. Once you get your resume into the hands of a recruiter, it can help make you a personable job candidate, which separates you from the rest of the pack.

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