Thoughtfully Portray your Client’s Story in the Resume’s Career Summary


By Lori Jazvac, CRS CES.

There was a time when job seekers were required to open their resume with an objective statement – a one-line declaration of their own personal career goal. The “objective” explained what the candidate wanted from the employer, but did not articulate what the candidate would do for the employer. This tactic eventually became outdated and was replaced with a more employer-friendly career summary. 

Although most recruiters prefer a focused summary statement, some job seekers omit it because they assume that it is only intended for executives. However, resume strategists know that summary statements can be used effectively for entry level professionals, career changers, and all professionals of diverse backgrounds.

Canadian employers want candidates to highlight skills and experience most relevant for the position they need to fill. Without a meaningful introductory piece, they cannot fully understand how the candidate might fit within their organization or its culture.

The first quarter of the first page of the resume is a valuable selling piece. The summary needs to clearly define the unique offerings of the candidate. It is incorrect to believe that the prospective employer will overlook a thoughtful and succinct snapshot of qualifications. Most employers will not automatically spend a lot of time reviewing, in detail, the employment and education sections within the body of the resume unless they have a valid reason to do so.

Important writing tips for career practitioners

As a career professional, you need to be mindful when crafting the summary. It is not intended to be an “elevator pitch” but rather an accurate snapshot of the candidate’s career highlights.

A coherent career summary:

  • Introduces the candidate to the employer.
  • Tells a brief story about candidate, delineating what sets the candidate apart.
  • Articulates past and current results through high-impact statements.
  • Aligns employer’s needs with candidate’s needs and outlines how the candidate will make a great fit.
  • Sheds light on candidate’s potential, unique strengths and added value, featuring the career brand.
  • Highlights career skills and abilities through relevant key words and phrases.
  • Compels the recruiter to read through the complete resume.

An effective career summary statement must be tailored to the position at hand while telling a brief story that brands the candidate’s value proposition authentically.

The career summary is typically one paragraph, but it doesn’t have to be. Experienced clients, such as executives, may require two to three short paragraphs to explain their offerings fully.

Address your client’s target market. Present key information that helps your client stand out, articulate his or her personal brand, and encourage the reader to continue on. Don’t just make claims. Include evidence-based information that speaks to your client’s experience and demonstrable accomplishments.

Highlight concisely what the candidate has been recognized for in a measurable way. Claiming to be a “dynamic communicator” or “astute problem solver” holds little weight without respectively quantifying those achievements. You may want to include a small graph to show progressive increases in profitability or sales over the years – even milestones in improved customer satisfaction.

Make your client stand out by saying something other than the typical wording you see on other resumes. Here are some examples:

  • Include specific specialties and technical and computer skills, especially if those skills will be helpful to the targeted position.
  • Mention fluency in languages if the role requires multilingual skills and your client displays them.
  • Name any awards or honours to reflect exceptional abilities.
  • Consider naming an engaging important presentation your client delivered.
  • If your client has attended conferences, briefly list those to demonstrate continued professional development.

Market your client’s hard and soft skills, special characteristics, and strengths in a way that will capture the employer’s attention. An appealing summary may likely lead an employer to consider reading further and invite the candidate for an interview. Therefore, skipping the summary may be a less than wise decision when marketing your client.

If you are a career professional, consider taking your strategic resume writing skills to the next level with CPC’s Advanced Resume Development Program.

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