Writing a Professional Resume Summary

Writing a Professional Resume Summary

Have you ever looked in the mirror and wondered, “Who is this woman?”  What is she really made of? 

I usually consider these deep questions when I’m fixing my hair in the morning.  I like to style it based on my mood and objectives for the day, or match it to my outfit…a tight ponytail with my camouflage flats, bouncy curls and my blue dress with the flowers, or straight and serious with my black blazer. 

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This woman that you see reflected back at you is full of personality, charisma, and grace. 

Her personal fortitude defines who she is.  She is also shaped and learned from her experiences. 

When a recruiter or employer is hiring for a position, they look to fill the role with the candidate that would be the best fit.  (They also aren’t concerned about any of the freckles or creases that you saw in that mirror earlier, so go ahead and let that one go.  You are GORGEOUS and there is only one YOU in this world!  Be confident, girlie!)

This means not only are they considering experience, but they want to assess whether this individual candidate also aligns with the culture of the company?  Would they be a good representative and passionate about the brand?

The recruiter may have dozens, if not hundreds of candidates to consider.  Your first impression is what is demonstrated on the page. 

Your living legacy of your work shines through keywords, organization, and a little creative expression. 

This means not statically listing general descriptions, but specifically using quantifiable metrics, accomplishments and showcasing your triumphs and successes.

Resumes are comprised of several parts, including work history, education, volunteer experience, skills, credentials, certifications and also a summary. 

Some resume writers talk about an “objective summary.”  An objective is used in place of a professional summary when the individual does not have significant work history, or is switching careers.  An objective would help the employer understand what the applicant WANTS to achieve, but not what they have already accomplished.

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A professional resume summary highlights the candidate’s position in their career and lists specific accomplishments.

Think of it as a 3-5 sentence personal profile.  I have been in retail management for over a decade, but simply stating “high-volume retail manager” does little to highlight my actual abilities.  I have been in charge of businesses with up to $10 million dollars in revenue.  I have led team sizes up to 24 individuals directly reporting to me.  I have won awards with multiple companies and been selected for specific company initiative and tasks.  This is the specific kind of information I want to capture a potential employer’s attention with.

My personal resume summary is four sentences long, and reads:

“High-volume ($10m+) retail store manager with 12+ years experience in operations, inventory control, visual merchandising, sales, customer-service, loyalty acquisition, talent development and driving profitability. Have ability to acquire, develop and manage high-performing teams, with management of 24 direct reports. Received Store Manager of the Year recognition for Pier 1 Imports, 2019; Talent Award Recipient for Pier 1 Imports, 2016; $100k Club recognition, Bath & Body Works, 2014.  Tapped as top-talent for special projects, Caribou Coffee, 2013 and Toys R’ Us, 2011; B.A. Psychology, 2019.”

That is not the extent of my career journey, but it showcases information that is important to the professional accomplishments I have made as a leader and retail store manager.  It states right away the responsibilities I have been tasked to manage, team sizes who have reported to me and the specific technical skills that are involved in my role. 

A recruiter may have the time to read over my entire resume, experience and skills.  However, if they are skimming through, I have a much better chance of standing out because I have neatly packaged up my skills and history and presented it to them in an organized and creative manner.

If you are ready to practice, then consider these key points:

1. State your professional title first and include the longevity, if it is impactful.  This could be something like, “Certified Logistics Expert with 6 years experience.”  Or, “Professional office manager with 9 years experience.”

2. Highlight 3-4 accomplishments that you really want to stand out to your employer.  Let’s add to our office manager’s professional summary: “Professional office manager with 9 years experience. Certified in Microsoft Word, 72 WPM.  Flexible in fast-paced environment, managed 3 direct reports and optimized office supply spending to save $2,500 per annum.”

3. Be sure to include specific and quantifiable data. Our office manager (we will call her Bianca) can type 72 words per minute (which is pretty high and alludes to a strong ability for productivity.)  She is certified in the software that helps her perform her job efficiently.  Bianca has also worked in an office that requires agility and flexibility, since it is fast paced.  She had 3 individuals that reported directly to her (highlights her leadership experience.)  Bianca also was passionate about her role and due to her organization and skilled management, she saved the company money out of its budget for supplies.  Bianca seems like a strong candidate for an office environment and a recruiter may entertain her for additional leadership roles and responsibilities.

4. Use specific keywords that relate to your career field. Applicant tracking systems are digital filters that are comprised of automated processes that screen for potential applicants.  These systems rely heavily on keywords to locate potential candidates.  You will want to use keywords that you would find in a potential job description and include those in your summary and in your resume. 

It is a great move to place a few specific keywords in your summary that are directly relative to the job for which you are applying.  You can also utilize other keywords when describing role or company specific bullet points in the experience portion of your resume. 

You can try Indeed or Monster as reference sites for job descriptions to help you out with locating viable and specific keywords. 

Can you locate the keywords out of my professional summary?  They are directly related to the skills required in my role, “retail store manager, operations, inventory control, visual merchandising, sales, customer-service, loyalty acquisition, and talent development.” 

These keywords are specific and intentional.  They are included because they are important and describe precise proficiencies an employer would be searching for in my career field.  They are likely to be located by a digital applicant tracking system, as well.

You do not have to be a wizard to write your summary.  For some helpful tools and tricks, try out these guides:

Guess what?  You can also hire this task out the professionals!  If your summary seems complicated, you have multiple points you want to highlight or it just does not seem to read how you want it to, then go ahead and hire it out. 

There are lots of wonderful professionals who can help you get the beautiful and professional resume that you desire and deserve.  Girl, you have worked so hard to get to this point in your career.  Don’t let your resume get shuffled through.  You were made to shine and STAND OUT!

Check out some great professionals who are ready to provide assistance.  One easy way to do this is to go on LinkedIn and type in “Resume Writing” in Services.  You can narrow down by location to find a local individual or company who can provide this service for you. 

If you prefer an online service, try TopResume.com.  They have a reasonable service starting at $149.  For a female-led business, check out WriteStepResumes.com.  Write Step works on a sliding scale based on career experience.  Pricing packages are easily available to browse on their site.  For a free resume check-up, try TheResumeClinic.com.  The Resume Clinic also offers LinkedIn Profile Development and Resume & Cover Letter Tune-Up.

I can’t wait to see how far and how fast you fly through your next job search!  Your dream job may be actively looking for their next candidate RIGHT NOW and there is no reason you shouldn’t be at the front of the line.  Good luck!  Best wishes and happy career searching!


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