Does Your Resume Summary Need Some Help?

John Krautzel
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Writing a strong resume summary can boost your response rate from hiring managers, if it doesn't put them to sleep first. Traditional rules tell you to pack in keywords and use a robotic business voice, tips that don't make your summary exciting. If you want to land an interview, break the rules in your resume summary, and give hiring managers indisputable reasons to bump your resume to the top of the candidate list.

1. Break Up Blocks of Text

Hiring managers prefer scannable resumes, and big blocks of text make speedy reading much harder. Think of your resume summary as a highlight reel. Hiring managers want short, distinct selling points, not a jumble of words. Get to the meat of your value proposition right away with a quick outline of your top achievements and measurable outcomes. Keep in mind, being an attractive candidate is also about who you are, not just fancy job titles. If you don't have a long career of big wins, try combining a mix of on-the-job results and actions that show your work ethic. For example, if you're a mid-career chef, note that you trained and managed five line cooks at a 50-seat restaurant or conceived two top-selling Italian dishes as a sous chef at Tavola Restaurant. The first point demonstrates management capability, while the second point shows that you are creative and self-motivated.

2. Use Quotes

Endlessly singing your own praises can make you seem a bit cocky, so let trusted colleagues or customers explain what makes you special. Quotes are an unconventional yet powerful way to spice up a resume summary, because hiring managers are more likely to trust third-party opinions. You don't have to include the commenter's name in your resume summary, but let readers know where the quote came from, such as a personal website or LinkedIn profile. That way, hiring managers can verify the contact and know exactly where to find more testimonials and portfolio samples.

3. Include Social Proof

Nothing sells your skills better than social proof that you are driven and qualified to deliver outstanding results. Depending on your experience and desired job, social proof could include big-name clients or employers, blog subscribers, awards, fellowships or media coverage. You can even use accomplishments from extracurricular activities, as long as they complement your target job. Organizing a successful fundraiser, serving on a local board, hosting a workshop, marketing a successful e-book or speaking on a panel can be just as impressive as your actual work performance on the job.

Hiring managers want a glimpse of your personality, so use natural language in your resume summary. You are different from every other candidate, so your resume summary should describe your marketable traits in your own voice.

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