Does a summary have a function on your resume? Yes, in fact, next to the objective statement, this is the second most important section. The summary section is where you get to professionally brag about your seven very best skills, accomplishments, accreditations and milestones.
Consider that your resume will draw a picture of you in the employer’s mind.
As they read through your resume, the employer will begin to form a picture as to the kind of professional you are. That employer only has your resume, cover letter, and job application to form that image. It is important to keep this in mind when you decide which background experiences you will use for your summary.
How do you decide what goes in the Summary?
The easiest way to decide on what parts of your background should go in the summary is to start by reading your own resume. First, complete the work experience section of your resume if don’t already have one, and then come back to this section.
Your entire summary should support your objective statement.
Once your work experience is ready, start your summary by first reading and highlight the most important items within your work experience. Next copy and paste each of those sentences under the summary title and make them separate bullets. Now that it’s a stand-alone statement and you can re-write it so that it reads as a power statement. Repeat this for the second most important item within your work experience, and so on.
When it comes to re-writing each statement, I use three important tools that are already built into Word. They are the thesaurus, dictionary and grammar tools. You can use these tools to help you write a more powerful statement.
How much is too much?
I always recommend to my clients to restrict the Summary to a total of seven bullets. The primary reason is that you don’t want to give your whole work experience in this section as it would be repetitive and overwhelming to the reader. Remember that the employer will only scan the resume the first time they read it. They are searching for key phrases that match what they most desire in a candidate. The summary section should read fluid with your work experience, complimenting it, not replacing it.
Is it ok to embellish past skills to make your resume look better?
I wouldn’t recommend this practice. Embellishing details can be dangerous. One, it can misguide the employer to believe you have skills that you don’t have, and in the long run this will damage your integrity. Two, if you do manage to get hired for a job that you are not truly qualified for, the results could end badly with you in the unemployment line. And three, it will turn your job hunt into a much longer process than what you intended.
Sticking to the facts of your experience, combined with great writing is the most powerful way to demonstrate to an employer that you have the qualifications they need.