Six seconds: this is the average time a recruiter spends when initially reviewing a resume. This gives job seekers only an incredibly short amount of time to convince future employers that they would be the ideal candidate for the position. Although making a good impression in under a few seconds can be quite a challenge, it’s not impossible and in certain cases it may even inspire applicants to be more creative with their resumes. However, traditional CVs can be just as convincing as their unconventional counterparts – and all it takes is the addition of a summary statement to make sure the resume will be read in its entirety.
The Purpose of the Summary Statement
Simply put, the summary statement – also known as summary of qualifications or competencies – is the first section in the resume right after personal information and answers the question of why the company should hire the candidate in a short, Tweet-length fashion. However, this shouldn’t be confused with the objective of the resume which, despite having the same length, mostly focuses on the job seeker’s goals. Instead, the summary statement explains to recruiters what values the applicant could add to the business by highlighting the most relevant skills and achievements in one to five sentences. Basically, the summary statement has more or less the same role as the cover letter, with the key difference being that the former is an extremely condensed version of the latter due to the lack of space that resumes have.
However, it’s worth adding that using a summary of qualifications isn’t for everyone as it can only have the right effect if the applicant has had many years of experience, wants to tie together seemingly irrelevant skills, or is changing careers. Admittedly, having the summary statement in a resume never hurts, but less-experienced job seekers or those who have a more straightforward career history should consider omitting this section entirely and, instead, focus on explaining more about previous employment, additional skills, or anything else deemed important for the job.
The Art of Creating Convincing Summaries
Since the summary statement is the first thing recruiters will notice – aside from the applicant’s personal data – it has to be convincing enough to make them want to keep reading. In order to achieve this the summary has to be created with just as much care as the cover letter or the rest of the resume.
One of the most important rules about creating a resume summary is that it always has to be tailored towards the job position being applied for. For this reason, it’s best not to jump right into phrasing the summary but, instead, think about particular strengths, skills, roles, and achievements that are relevant to the job but that are also impressive enough for the employer to consider you for an interview. Once that information is collected they can be included into the summary or, if you are going for a better effect, spice them up a bit by adding some industry-specific keywords.
Length and Structure
Since recruiters limit their time for evaluating CVs so much, the summary absolutely has to be strong, relevant to the job and, most importantly, short. Although candidates with less work experience might want to consider making the summary statement a bit longer, the number of sentences should be between one and five. The easiest way to make sure that the summary stays short and to the point is by using bullet points – a technique that can also be applied to the resume for a better, more logical structure to make it easier to read.
Even if the length and content of a resume summary statement depends on the job that the CV is being created for, the summary’s place within the resume should stay constant with each new resume, meaning that it always has to appear on the top of the document right under personal information. In addition to that, having a summary of qualifications in the resume is basically inevitable, since templates found in most online resume builders provide this section by default. However, even if that section is missing, there is always the option to add one for yourself by putting a miscellaneous section into the draft, which can then be freely renamed and moved to its rightful place.
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