Your Professional Summary (Or Executive Summary, whatever they call it now these days) is your chance to stand out and get the attention of the hiring manager. It’s up to you, however, what kind of attention you want to get. Do you want your resume to end up in the trash bin (or a digital trash bin) or in the “for interview” pile or folder? It’s entirely up to how diligent you are in packaging yourself through your resume.
Properly written resumes and curriculum vitae (not just properly, but greatly written in fact) are excellent means to tell a hiring manager or a hiring team how great you are as a prospective employee. However, you must remember that a professional is more about what you want, not what you could do for a prospective employer.
Your professional summary is seriously important.
Most job-hunters take this section for granted, and consider this just another line to complete just for the sake of making a ‘complete’ resume or curriculum vitae. What most of us fails to see is that the objective section tells the hiring manager three important things:
- What position you are looking for;
- What level of responsibility you want; and
- How he/she will interpret the information on the resume (it will be the cue of what your resume is going to be about)
There are specific instances or conditions you should consider before you write your professional summary section. Are you changing your career path? Are you a fresh graduate seeking your first job? Or, are you applying for a specific position?
These questions are important because depending on your answer to these questions you will phrase your professional summary accordingly. Now, think about those questions first, it is extra helpful if you draft your answers to the aforementioned questions in a piece of paper (for easier reference when you write your objective statement later).
It’s all about how you write it.
Practice laconic writing. Write concisely but clearly. Your resume should be short enough to be read quickly (about 10 words or so). The hiring manager is busy and probably have couple of dozens of resumes to scrutinize, so write for scannability. Avoid flowery statements that consequently bury your message or point (if there is any at all). Try putting a lot of unnecessary words and you’ll look like you’re bluffing, and the hiring manager’s going to hate you for doing so.
Keep it targeted to the only important information it must contain such as the following:
- Field of the work you are passionate about (e.g. marketing, human resource, administration, sales, etc.)
- Position title you are applying for (e.g. manager, accounts manager, customer service representative)
- For broader fields, include the area of specialisation (e.g. ‘with focus in Finance’, ‘focusing on Econometrics’)
- “Presidential Staff Officer position with primary focus on social policy crafting.”
- “Administrative position with a focus on finance.”
To further make the point, let us study a few bad and good examples of resume objective statements. Here are a few poorly written objective statements (do away with objective statements, they are a thing of the past), carefully read them and notice what is off with these statements.
- “Looking for a career employment or contract (twelve months).”
- “My Goal is to find employment that will help me begin paying off my loans.”
- “An IT position with Sysgen.”
- “To obtain a challenging position where my education, skills and experiences can be highly utilized and later be applicable for growth and possible advancement.”
The first item is too vague (what is he applying for really). The second one is just plain stupid, who cares about your debts?! The third example, although a little specific compared to the previous two items, IT is still a broad field with various sorts of positions to apply for (not to mention that it is so plain and uninteresting). Item No.4 is the same as Item No.1, vague, and pointless.
Now, let us try rewriting a few of them while keeping in mind what we have learned a while ago.
- “Seeking a fulfilling position as JAVA Programmer at Sysgen.”
- “Technical – I am looking for a position as a Project Manager for a software or internet company.
There you go, plain but crispy, and short but straightforward.
But, we are not just writing ‘objective statements’, we are writing your professional summary. How do you do that?
Remember to always answer these three basic areas:
- What I can do for you;
- What I am professionally passionate about; and
- What differentiates my professional experience from the others
Consider your professional summary as your own personal branding statement. And any good branding statement clearly lays down your attributes, your uniqueness, and your value.
Passionate humanitarian with commitment to achieving social justice through the development of international literacy projects. Skilled in program management and project development with expertise in non-profit administration, board and volunteer development, marketing, and human resources management and staffing.
Award-winning newspaper and website editor, adept in community relations, managing staff, and growing print circulation and online readership, with a flair for identifying important local stories and building community awareness.
Talented educational leader with teaching and administrative experience dealing with students, faculty, and staff at all levels. Served students with diverse backgrounds and abilities as teacher and mentor. Possess special expertise and experience in music education. Experienced working in public, religious, and correctional settings.
Great, you got it! Here’s a quick recap:
Remember that you are writing your professional summary (not a mere objective statement) to tell your prospective employer what you want and what you can do. Do not write too general statements as they will be vague and pointless. Remember to always K.I.S.S. (Keep it Short and Simple).
So, always k.i.s.s..