I speak with a lot of professionals who are given terrible advice to remove or omit having a professional summary at the top of their resume.
Imagine going to a book store to buy a book on how to become an expert rock climber. Naturally you would gravitate towards the section of the bookstore reserved for books “Outdoor Activities.”
But what if the books weren’t organized this way? What if when you went to the bookstore, all of the books were in long aisles with no specific order or structure and they were all the same color? How long do you think it would take to find the book you’re looking for? Would you give up after a couple of hours?
Not having a professional summary on your resume is like going to a book store where the books are not categorized by topic or context.
How can you expect the reader of your resume to know what your intentions are if you don’t provide a professional summary or objective?
Most professionals have a progression of their career. Their first few jobs may have nothing to do with their ultimate career path and chances are, they had one or two roles that were peripherally applicable to the job they want but not directly related. Let’s walk through an example:
<begin resume example>
SUMMARY OF QUALIFICATIONS
- 7 years of progressive experience in marketing
- 4 years of sales experience
- 2 years of event marketing experience
- 2 years of account management experience
- Experience collaborating with vendors
- Creative problem solver
SUMMARY OF EXPERIENCE
ACME Software Company, Houston, TX | Feb 2011 - Current
Director of Sales, New Business Development
Smith Corporate Events, Dallas, TX | Apr 2009 – Mar 2011
Oren Digital Marketing Agency, Dallas, TX | Oct 2007 – Apr 2009
Leboro Digital Communications, Dallas, TX | June 2005 – Aug 2007
Digital Account Manager
Firehouse Telecommunications, Austin, TX | Mar 2003 - Apr 2002
Part Time Telemarketer
University of Texas, Austin, TX
<end of resume example>
Without a professional summary, how would I know what position you truly want and are qualified for? Should I consider you for Event Manager roles, Account Manager roles? Do you want to be a Telemarketer again? Do you want to stay in sales or do you hate sales? Do you prefer to work on the corporate side or the agency side? Do you have industry preferences?
What is your intention? What do you want me to
focus on when I’m reading your resume?
People think in pictures. The professional summary is your opportunity to give me a picture of what to expect as I read through your resume and to know what your intention is. When I see a resume without a professional summary, I have no idea what your intention is. You’re forcing me to make a lot of subjective decisions about you.
Let’s look at some example professional
summaries for the resume above:
Professional Summary A:
JANE DOE - RESUME
Professional seeking a leadership sales role responsible for managing a sales team. Experience includes both B2C and B2C as well as time on the agency side. My experience in account management and event management equates to transferable skills where I am able to build and foster internal client relationships and vendor-side relationships that translate into profitable activities for the company.
<end of example>
The summary above tells me that you’re a professional looking for a Sales role and that the supporting experience and skills has to do with your account management and event management. It says to me, “I have held peripheral roles to sales but I found my passion in sales. I appreciate other departments and their contribution towards success. I want you to focus on my experience as a Sales Leader and read everything else as supporting/secondary assets.”
Here is another example of a professional summary using the same resume above:
Professional Summary B:
JANE DOE - RESUME
Professional seeking to return to a career in Event Management and Event Marketing. My current role as Director of Sales has been extremely helpful in recognizing how corporate events and sales must communicate and work together to ensure profitable returns from event strategy. Experience also includes time on the agency side as well as B2C corporate side which offers a blended perspective on ways to turn event marketing into profitable marketing channel.
<end of example>
This summary above says to me, “I tried something new – Sales. It was great, but my passion is Event Management and Event Marketing. I want you to read my resume in that context and look for all of the responsibilities on my resume that appeal and match up to what an Event Manager does and view my experience in Sales as a supporting/secondary asset.”
Do you see how a professional summary can completely change the context of your resume for the reader? Without a professional summary, it’s just a resume with a bunch of job titles and bullets. Context is the key, and it’s up to you to provide the correct context up front to ensure the focus goes where you want it to go when the resume is read.
Before I became a recruiter, I had several different roles: Community Relations Manager, Programmer, Web Developer, Trade Show Manager, Director of the Volunteer Program for he NFL Super Bowl, Marketing Manager, etc. It allowed me to apply to a variety of different jobs because I had experience in more than one discipline, but it also meant that I had to rewrite my resume and professional summary in accordance to the priorities of each different profession I was going after. If I were applying to a Trade Show Manager job today, many of the things I do as a Recruiter wouldn’t impress a hiring manager. They want to know specifically how I could manage trade shows, not how I can interview candidates.
If you’re thinking “I’ll just do that in a cover letter”, think again. Cover letters almost always get separated from the resume plus 90% of them are canned fluff that is copied and pasted and used for every job with no customization towards the position they are submitted to. You can still use a cover letter and they are valuable if done right (read my article on How to Write a Cover Letter That Will Land You the Interview” but you must make the time to write an authentic professional summary on every resume you send out.
Want a Coach to help you build, manage and execute an effective Job Search Strategy? I can help!Contact me directly to discuss a customized solution based on your specific needs. Best of luck to all of you who are job hunting!