You’ve got about 30 seconds. Does your resume do you justice?

There are gazillions of articles on how to put together a good resume (this one being my favorite). But consider this…most recruiters have to sift through stacks of resumes and just don’t have the time to read every single one cover to cover. By some accounts, a recruiter may only spend 30-60 seconds reading a resume before making the decision to move it to the rejection pile. That means your resume needs to make a positive impression quickly. Just like a great novel, it should grab the reader’s attention right from the start and leave them wanting more.

So just how do you get your resume to make an impact in a short 30-ish seconds? In my opinion, it’s a well-crafted summary statement near the top of the resume. It’s guaranteed to be read by every recruiter since it’s short and sweet and acts as an introduction to you as a candidate.

A summary statement should:

  • Include two to four sentences that describe briefly your “label” (e.g., experienced business leader or successful sales manager), plus several significant professional accomplishments or positive personal attributes.
  • Use adjectives to help accurately describe who you are and what you’ve done. Don’t be afraid to sell yourself! Pull out the thesaurus if you must.
  • Avoid using metaphors. Phrases like “have a great track record” (unless you’re actually applying for a job as a track and field star) or “I hit it out of the park” (unless it’s for a position as a MLB player). These phrases are just plain lame in any business writing. In the words of your grade school grammar teacher, use your words.
  • Do not make an objective statement in your summary. Let me repeat, do not make an objective statement in your summary. For example, “looking for a position that will allow me to grow my skills and help improve the company’s sales”. The only exception to this rule is for college students looking for an internship or first job out of school. For everyone else, an objective statement looks parochial.
  • Be careful using definitive terms like “expert” or “expertise”. Those terms tend to be overused, sometimes incorrectly, and can be a turn-off. If you do call yourself an expert, be prepared to prove it.

A few good sample summary statements:

Senior Sales Leader with a strong background in managing sales, marketing and new product rollout efforts. Highly experienced in managing large customer bases and ensuring satisfaction. Excellent team management skills. Successful at working across departments to ensure customer schedules are met with quality.

Experienced Software Developer with a background in web-based and native mobile solutions. Advanced-level understanding of the latest development platforms and tools. A positive team member and mentor to others, with a drive for results and commitment to quality.

Highly-experienced, world-renowned delivery and logistics professional. Seasoned manager of toy manufacturing facilities. Proven ability to identify positive traits in others. Lover of all animals, especially reindeer.

A well-crafted summary at the very top of your resume will quickly tell a recruiter how great you are as a candidate. From there, hopefully they’ll continue reading for more than 30 seconds and you’ll get that call for an interview!

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