The resume summary statement is a powerful selling tool that can make or break the document. It’s a job seeker’s prime real estate, and it’s all about highlighting your skills, strengths, experiences & core competencies that will best position you as a qualified candidate for the role. It’s also the first thing your audience will read on your resume, and it can set a powerfully branded overtone for the rest of your document.
If you don’t want them to miss your message, then I say, lay it out for them – clearly and concisely.
Writing about yourself can be a difficult feat, a brain-cramping exercise confusing to even the most creative and linguistically-gifted folks! So I’ve broken it down for you into a few easy steps to get you going.
STEP 1: Start by determining your main message.
The resume tells a story around your career, so think: “What do I want potential employers to know about me as a candidate, and as a professional in my field?” This is your foundation and we’re going to essentially build upon and rework this. For example:
“I’m an accomplished and award-winning copywriter who has a wide range of experience across multiple media, and a wide range of work within some of the best known consumer brands. I know my stuff, and I would be an asset to any creative team!”
STEP 2: Create a strong opening line. (1-2 lines)
The idea here is to be direct with 1) who you are, 2) what you do, and 3) what your level of expertise is. I often begin the sentence with 1 or 2 powerful and supporting adjectives that uniquely describe the person, and that adds some oomph:
“Award-winding multi-lingual copywriter with 10+ years of experience in digital and traditional advertising agencies and design shops.”
STEP 3: Talk about your strengths and core competencies. (1-2 lines)
Now that they know what you do and your level of expertise, talk about the specific functions within your role that are most relevant to the job your applying to, and that you consider your strongest attributes:
“Strengths focus around cross-cultural brand promotion for direct mail and print campaigns, and understanding how ads will resonate within international markets.”
STEP 4: Talk about additional experience or transferrable skills. (1-2 lines)
Now that you’ve clarified what you are qualified to do, and really where you excel in relation to the experiences and skills the job requires, discuss what other non-traditional skill sets and attributes you bring to the table that might set you apart from someone else with a similar background:
“Additional experience working with consumer and retail brands including Target, Home Depot and Macy’s, with exposure to project planning, budgetary oversight, and contract management.”
STEP 5: Put it all together!
Piece together each of the above components, and make sure the constructed message echoes the original idea you described in Step 1. Be sure that the message doesn’t just look or sound good on paper, but that it’s an accurate and unique representation of you, that it clearly communicates the type of role you’re targeting, and that it appeals to your target audience through the use of appropriate language and keywords:
“Award-winding multi-lingual copywriter with 10+ years of experience in digital and traditional advertising agencies and design shops. Strengths focus around cross-cultural brand promotion for direct mail and print campaigns, and understanding how ads will resonate within international markets. Additional experience working with consumer brands including Target, Home Depot and Macy’s, with exposure to project planning, budgetary oversight, and contract management.”
STEP 6: Modify as needed.
I recommend tailoring this for each resume you send out so that you are appealing directly to the exact role and company to which you are applying, as the most important skills and attributes may vary. Bonus: You can also use this for your LinkedIn profile or other social media profiles.
Your branding summary statement is a marketing tool, and when used effectively it should communicate your brand in a way that screams, “Hire me! I’m qualified and full of the potential that your company needs, dammit.” Well, something along those lines.
This is just the beginning. Download the full Resume Summary Statement Worksheet for additional prompts and step-by-step ideas to inspire your best writing and ensure you’re truly communicating your value in the right words.