In today’s competitive job market it can be difficult to impress a hiring manager. With their busy schedules and myriad of job responsibilities hiring for a new position often comes in the form of added stress. Most hiring managers want to fill an open position as quickly as possible and get back to their regular work routine.
This fact is augmented by a recent study that found hiring managers spend an average of six seconds looking at a resume. This fact creates a challenge for job hunters: an attention grabbing resume is absolutely imperative. There is simply no time to waste when it comes to crafting a job winning opening line. One of the best ways to do this is through the development of a professional summary. If you’re on hunt for a new job and looking to stand out from other candidates, here are a few strategies for preparing an all-star professional summary:
Make Sure the Skills Align
Candidates who possess the necessary skills required for the job will make the short list for most positions. Smart hiring managers understand that tasks and processes can be taught, but certain skills are innate and can’t be learned with even the best training. Therefore, it’s important that you quickly and clearly outline these skills in your summary.
Open positions usually publish a list of skills required for successfully completing the work so your research will be minimal in this department. If you’re a smart applicant you’ll make sure your professional summary mentions these skills using the keywords regularly throughout. Providing specific examples of how you utilize these skills is also helpful to a hiring manager who is accustomed to seeing a list of adjectives splayed across the page. This added step will demonstrate thoughtfulness and will definitely help your resume stand out.
Additionally, be careful not to list a bunch of skills that are not applicable to the position. While you may be extremely well-rounded and have a lot to offer, make sure the skills you focus on are applicable and relevant to the position. Otherwise, your message may get lost.
Another important aspect of a professional summary is quantitative data. Hiring managers care about results and if you can demonstrate that you’re a results-driven professional you’ll likely get a second look. As we’ve already mentioned, providing examples of your skill set is important. The same holds true for results. Instead of saying something generic like “I grew sales each year” include numerical data like “I grew sales by 35 percent”. The second line is way more impactful and will capture the attention of the hiring crew. Here are a few other common ways to quantify your work:
- If you supervise employees, share how many
- If you manage a budget, list the dollar amount
- If you organized an event, describe how many people attended
- If you generate new business, describe the growth
Focus on Qualifications
One mistake many anxious job seekers make is to focus on their personal career goals versus their qualifications. Think about this for a moment. When under the gun to hire a quality candidate quickly, why would a potential employer care about what they can do for you? They are running a business, so they’re more concerned with what YOU can do for THEM.
They are also focused on the immediate goal of filling a job gap. Of course, it goes without saying that a smart company will want to develop your skills and offer you the tools you need to reach your long term goals, but that’s a conversation you’ll have once you are hired. When you’re in the initial stages of trying to land a position, it’s best that your professional summary focuses on your qualifications and how you will add value to the company.
This important note is what distinguishes an objective from a summary. While an objective explicitly states what you’re personally trying to accomplish, a summary will outline why you’re qualified for a role and how you might be an asset to the organization.
Add a Personal Touch
While there is much controversy surrounding the separation of professional and personal life, some employers love to see the person behind the professional facade. Including something about your family, hobbies, interests, and volunteer work humanizes you and makes you a bit more relatable. Before you take this approach however, it’s a good idea to study the culture of the organization where you plan to apply. Look for cues on how they operate and interact with each other. You can easily get a good grasp on whether or not this is an appropriate strategy by simply browsing their website or social media channels for a few short minutes.
If you do choose to add a more personal touch, be careful in your approach. You still want to remain professional and will want to tie it back to your ability to get the job done. For example, if you choose to talk about reading as a hobby, clue your employer in that your love of reading makes you a great researcher and writer! If you mention that you love to spend time with your family or your dog, tie that into your ability to prioritize so you can have a work life balance.
Keep it Short and Sweet
As we’ve already seen, hiring managers spend a very small window of time on each resume submission. They want to quickly be enticed to read more. Unfortunately, most people won’t take the time to read a block of text. Paragraph form is one of the worst ways to present your professional summary.
Instead, you should consider short bulleted lists. The summary should be no more than five lines of text and each sentence in the text should run no more than 12 words. Keeping your summary tight and concise will make it much more enticing to the reader. This tactic also demonstrates your ability to cut to the chase and apply the most relevant information. Lastly, it demonstrates your understanding of the audience. Choosing items that are most important to the reader is critical for setting the tone and having productive conversations.
These are just a few of the many ways to knock your professional summary out of the park! While a professional summary is not required to get your foot in the door, it can certainly help. With a well-written professional summary you’ll be able to “wow” your future employer with your qualifications and results and you’ll be well on your way to landing your next gig!