Dear Sam: The part of my resume that I’m struggling with the most is my summary statement. Can you share some advice about how to write one effectively? I’m so used to having an objective statement that I don’t know how to make the switch! – Brenda

Dear Brenda: First, I’m glad to hear that you’ve decided to nix your outdated objective statement! Today’s job searches are about presenting what you can do for an employer, not presenting what you want to do. By opening your resume with a qualifications summary, you are able to better showcase the pillars of your candidacy. What is differentiating about your experience and candidacy? How would you say you are “better” than one of your competitors? The key to an effective summary statement is to sell the hiring manager on you and how you can add value to their company.

There are many ways you can go about formatting your summary statement, as long as you are including a combination of the following:

  1. Professional title
  2. Brief paragraph or bullet points that provide a snapshot of your career highlights and key qualifications
  3. Honors & awards
  4. Areas of expertise/core skills

All of your content should be customized based on the position for which you are applying. To customize your summary statement, identify key words from the job posting of interest and incorporate those desired skills into your content. Refer back to my keyword mapping exercise for additional tips on identifying key words.

Below are a few examples of summary statements that are rich with key words and that strategically position the candidates for the roles that they are seeking:

Creative Director:

Results-driven Creative Director with 10+ years’ corporate and agency experience leading the conceptualization, design, and production of award-winning campaigns. Initiate and design highly effective integrated campaigns that yield unprecedented gains in brand awareness, customer satisfaction, net operating income, and employee morale and retention. Hands-on and collaborative management style with the ability to garner buy-in from all process stakeholders from C-level executives to critical support teams.

Registered Nurse:

Dedicated to providing patients with compassionate care, facilitating genuine relationships in high-volume clinic settings, and managing time and tasks effectively to optimize patient-nurse-physician relations. Well-qualified nurse and community educator, conducted student and graduate nurse orientations, taught in nursing assistant programs, and administered grant-funded health initiatives to promote early identification and intervention. Demonstrated highly adaptive, flexible style while working with extremely diverse patient populations and managing heavy caseloads. Excel in collaborative or autonomous settings.

Project Manager:

  • Project management, business requirement gathering, documentation, testing, and reporting skills evidenced through 7+ years’ experience as a Senior Business Systems Analyst with JPMorgan Chase
  • Participate on cross-functional teams to drive achievement of process development and continuous improvement initiatives; cultivate relationships with internal and external stakeholders to drive results.
  • Intuitive ability to design, comprehend, and present complex information and systems; equally adept in communicating with technical and nontechnical audiences.

The above samples each have additional components, such as honors and awards, core skills, or select highlights, that showcase key achievements. The statements also include elements of creativity, such as symbols, bolding/italicizing, the use of two columns, and additional formatting tricks that bring attention to the areas that are most important. Feel free to play around with various options!

Remember: the top third of your resume is prime real estate—the curb appeal of what’s to come—so you want to leverage it wisely to secure interest and engage the reader in what makes your candidacy stronger. Feel free to browse additional samples on my website for more ideas!