A Guide to Creating an Outstanding Career Summary
Your resume is your tool for securing an interview, which, if successful, could ultimately get you hired. Once you’ve found the job you want, you have to prove that you’re the best candidate for it, and you’ll use your resume for that. So, how can you prove that you deserve the job more than the other candidates?
Let’s examine one small but very important element of your resume—your career summary. Don’t think your career summary is good enough? Ask a resume expert for help.
The career summary
In a sense, your career summary defines who you are. This section of the resume used to be called the objective statement, where you just told the hiring manager how much you wanted the job. The objective statement has fallen out of fashion in recent years, partly because the fact that you applied for the job made it obvious that you wanted it.
Today, the standard is to use a career summary, which highlights your skills and experience most beneficial to the company. Yes, you’re letting the hiring manager know you want the job, but you’re doing so in a way that demonstrates your skills and experience. You’re making the resume about how you can add value to the company, not how the company can boost your career.
How can your career summary prove to the hiring manager that you’re the best candidate for the job? Read on.
1. Check the job description
It’s important to know what the job description says. For one thing, if you haven’t read it, how do you even know whether you’re qualified or would like the job? For another, if you can craft a career summary similar to the job description, you’ll have a better chance of getting the job. Keep in mind that the hiring manager doesn’t care about your goals—they want the best person for the company.
2. Highlight your skills
As you read the job description, you’ll run across skills that the position requires. Do you have any, some, or all of those skills? Then write them down! If you have none, find another job. If you have some, you can still apply—just make sure to clearly highlight the skills you do have.
Listing skills may be hard for some people because it feels like bragging, but all you’re doing is comparing the skills you have with those the job requires. Besides, your resume is no place for humility: You have to give the hiring manager a compelling reason to hire you.
After making a list of the skills you have in common with the job description, it’s time to weave them into sentences. Mention how your skills resulted in achievements at your previous job. Don’t just say you’re innovative—succinctly describe how your creative thinking solved a problem for your employer. This will help the hiring manager determine whether your skills are quantifiable and whether you can add value to their business.
3. Compare your areas of expertise
Your career summary also includes an “area of expertise” section that demonstrates the experience you can offer this particular company. Here, you take the skills you mentioned in your summary and arrange them in a bulleted list.
You don’t have to include everything you're experienced in; in fact, you shouldn’t because if you list irrelevant skills, you’ll force the hiring manager to filter out the chaff, thus wasting their time. You’re only focusing on your areas of expertise that benefit the company. The best way to present them is to keep them consistent in structure and as specific as possible.
4. Proofread for errors and inconsistencies
One of the main reasons hiring managers discard a resume is that it’s full of formatting or grammatical errors. If you don’t take the time to proofread your career summary, all the work you have done to create it will be in vain.
When it comes to formatting, follow an easy-to-read format and design. If you try to be too original with your career summary, it may not make it very far in the application process. Not only will an applicant tracking system (ATS) be confused by your creative layout and likely throw your resume out simply because it can’t read it, but hiring managers aren’t impressed by overly creative resumes that force them to hunt for the information they want. So, be basic. Use basic fonts in black. This is not the time to go overboard.
Next, check for any grammatical, punctuation, or spelling errors. Basic grammatical mistakes show hiring managers that you’re unprofessional and too lazy to care about something as important as your resume. Even if you’re the most qualified person for the job, they’d rather opt for the slightly less qualified but professional candidate, so take the time to check for typos! If you don’t have time to proofread your resume or this is not your area of expertise, hire a professional proofreader. Actually, even if it is your area of expertise, reaching out to a professional proofreader is a good idea because proofreading your own content effectively is next to impossible.
Not only should you check for errors in your resume, but you should also check for inconsistencies throughout. If you listed skills in your career summary but didn’t include them in your “areas of expertise” section, the hiring manager might question what your skills really are. These are common errors that you might easily overlook, but the hiring manager certainly won’t
With a properly constructed career summary, you can easily pull ahead of the other candidates and dramatically increase your chances of landing the job you’ve always wanted. Don’t cut corners when it comes to this element of your resume! Showcase your skills and areas of expertise to demonstrate you have the right qualifications for the job. Do you need help writing or editing your career summary? Ask a proofreading expert to help you so you can outshine the other candidates!