First Impressions: Writing A Strong Summary

First Impressions: Writing A Strong Summary

Times are changing in the world of what employers really want, and very few are seeking the conventional objective feature that graced the first line of resume content for several decades. Instead, the industry standard in hiring is now to assess an applicant’s summary statement.

According to the Harvard Business Review, your resume has exactly 6 seconds (which equates to about 20 or 30 words) to make an impression that avoids the recycle bin. Making the biggest impact in those 6 seconds has everything to do with the contents of your summary statement. It’s essentially your elevator pitch reformatted to align your experience highlights, achievements and strongest skills  with the requirements of the position at hand.

One of the dangers of how objectives were used in the past was the focus on what the candidate was looking for, rather than what value he/she could bring to the company. The summary statement should articulate who you are, who you help and why it is important. The best starting point in crafting one that is effective is to think about how your expertise has contributed to your organization as a whole. Then outline which skills, initiatives and traits made it happen. It will likely take several hours to grasp what an impactful summary statement looks like for you; expect to modify it several times throughout your job hunt based on what you are applying for and where. You won’t be changing who you are or who you help, but may modify what value that presents to the beliefs and character of each company you reach out to.



  • Do share what makes your experience and approach unique.
  • Do use it as a place to tie together your career experience and achievements with your passions and hopes for future contributions.
  • Do mention your total years of experience and the types of organizations you have worked in (if you are staying within the same industry).


  • Don’t repeat what is already listed under the experience sections of your resume.


  • Don’t use generic terms that could apply to any other candidate competing for the position.


  • Don’t use the same summary statement for every prospective job; it should be tailored to create a specific connection between you and the job/company you are targeting.


  • Don’t skip it just because it’s the most time-consuming part of your resume building process (instead, seek out quality samples for inspiration and hire professional assistance if needed)

So, what do you think of the traditional objective vs. the modern summary statement? We hope you are excited to not only write one that defines you, but also enjoy some reflection about where you have been and where you are headed along the way.


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