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Kim Dority

Resume Tips: Use a Summary Statement to Lead with Your Strengths

The last time I was putting together a resume, I had an “Objective” statement at the top that read something along the lines of “Seeking an opportunity to grow and contribute my professional skills in a dynamic corporate environment.” Okay, what I really wanted to say was “After the group of psychotic bosses and co-workers I’ve had so far, I’m desperately trying to find an employer where intelligence and professionalism are actually valued rather than used for target practice!”

Fortunately, those outmoded Objectives statement have been replaced by something much better: a Summary statement.

Basically, a summary statement is a very brief paragraph – think perhaps two or three sentences – that showcases all of your most important strengths. The language is concise and businesslike, and generally (because you’re trying to keep the wording as tight as possible), you drop pronouns (“I”) and focus only on those terms that deliver the greatest impact. As an example, if you had a background in healthcare customer service, your summary statement might be something like: Healthcare customer service supervisor with 5 years managing increasingly large customer service teams for two largest HMOs in the U.S. Track record of leading teams with high customer satisfaction scores and low employee turnover rates. Especially skilled at managing multicultural, multi-generational, and virtual teams.

If you had a background in managing retail establishments, for example, an art gallery where you’d been responsible for setting up art events, your summary statement might be along the lines of: Experienced retail manager with demonstrated strengths in events planning, customer/client relations, website management, and administrative coordination. Marketing and operations management skills have been primarily deployed in the art and higher education environments, but are easily transferable to additional business settings.

My background includes working as an information strategist for organizations, so my summary statement if applying for a job as an information strategist might look like this: Experienced content strategist and content developer, working with corporations and nonprofits to develop information resources and processes that meet strategic goals. Expertise includes print and online content development, project-based research, information project management, and creation of information strategies that drive key organizational strategic goals.

When you craft your summary statement, you want to keep several things in mind. First, you want to keep it brief and focused on your most compelling strengths. Second, you want to highlight any differentiators that really set you apart as a job candidate (“especially skilled at coaching new hires for fast performance results”). Third, you want to proactively address any concerns the resume reader might have about your appropriateness for the job (“…skills have been primarily deployed in the retail and higher education environments, but are easily transferable to additional business settings”). Lastly, you want to make sure your summary statement is specifically tailored to the job you’re applying for. This may mean that you revise your summary statement for each different job you’re targeting, but it’s worth the effort – this is your best (and often your only) chance to catch the attention of that potential employer.




  • Niveditha said:
    6/30/2017 6:14 PM

    That's very true. Summary statements actually strengthen your resume more than we think it does. In the summary statement, the employer or the HR actually figures out a bit of your personality and your need for getting the job. Also, in the summary we can actually showcase what we've achieved in our previous job experiences. Like you've mentioned, keeping the summary brief and focused is important because it allows the recruiter to easily understand what you're about. In short, having a neat, focused and dedicated summary could give you a competitive edge. Thanks for sharing this with us!