If someone asked to see your executive summary or professional profile, would you know what they were looking for? Here's a hint: it's the portion of your resume just below the heading that summarizes your accomplishments and value proposition. When executed properly, this portion should compel the reader to want to get to know you better.
Keep in mind, this is the billboard meant to entice your audience with a hint of things to come. It's the highlight reel of your overall value that should be written in a professional yet conversational tone. It's not a bullet-riddled cacophony of boring data.
If you haven't piqued the reader's interest by the time they've finished reading your summary, they may never read the rest of your information.
How much time and effort should you spend on this important introduction? Hours. And what should you write? The answer to this question is complicated. Part of the time is spent laying a foundation on top of the summary. This foundation is also called your Professional Experience section. To build the sturdy foundation, you must:
- First, do some career introspection. Make sure you're in line with your target companies' needs. You can even splay pithy career stories across your resume page.
- Second, cherry pick stories. Only select the stories most relevant to your target audience's needs and trim out the less-relevant language.
- Third, organize your stories. Create subheadings to connect the dots for the reader. This completed Experience section should articulate your broader, deeper career story while also providing content for a skimmable story, which feeds into the summary.
- Fourth, energize your summary. Pump life into your executive summary by sifting through carefully selected word threads. You must then enhance those threads with nuanced soft skills (involving your influence, leadership, problem solving, customer service philosophy, team management, etc.). It's an art, really, a complexity of messages and marketing strategies designed to compel the reader.
Below are five more tips to develop your own compelling executive summary:
1. Build a marketing strategy. Think about the last story you read in a magazine or online. What lured you to read it? Most likely, it was the use of bold lettering that mentioned a snippet of what the story was about. Use this same method to get your audience on board.
2. Focus on marquee achievements. Zero in on a few of your most outstanding accomplishments that relate to the job for which you're applying. Then, build your executive summary around these accomplishments.
3. Introduce statements with strong verbs. Refrain from using yawn-inducing language like, "Responsible for," "Duties included," and other fillers that have no place on any professional resume.
4. Tailor your words for your audience. Be powerful and set the scene for your targeted position to ensure a potential employer fully understands your value.
5. Chart your story. If your career story allows it, the use of a chart or graph in this area is an excellent way to relay important data in a format that's quick and interesting to read.
The top one-third to one-half of your resume is where you will garner enough interest for the reader to continue, or move on due to unnecessary and boring language.
Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter is a Glassdoor career and workplace expert, chief career writer and partner with CareerTrend, and is one of only 28 Master Resume Writers (MRW) globally. Jacqui and her husband, "Sailor Rob," host a lively careers-focused blog at http://careertrend.net/blog. Jacqui is a power Twitter user (@ValueIntoWords), listed on several "Best People to Follow" lists for job seekers.