How To Write the Most Important Part of Your Resume

How To Write the Most Important Part of Your Resume

Can a stranger tell what you want to do just from the top third of your resume?

It’s an important question, because often, that is all a recruiter or hiring manager will look at when they are scanning through a large pile of resumes to determine which professionals deserve a phone interview.

So if you took the literal top third of the first page of your resume, ripped it off, and handed it to a stranger, could that stranger understand who you are and what you want to do?

How to Create a Great Professional Summary

At Leet Resumes, where we write great professional resumes for free, the critical importance of this top third of your resume is where we spend the most time crafting your resume.  Here’s some advice for creating a great professional summary at the top of your resume:

Resume Header

A well-constructed Professional Summary helps readers of your resume understand who you are and what you’re looking for in your next role.

Explain what job titles you are willing to accept for your next role. It is helpful to hiring managers and HR people when they understand precisely what you’re looking for in your next role.  It might seem completely obvious to you, but given the variety of human ambitions, it is not obvious at all to others.  So be explicit and clear – clarify for your audience the titles of the types of jobs you’d like to do next. On Leet professionally written resumes, we recommend that users be a little bit ambitious here and stretch for the next most likely title they’re ready for.

Explain what skills, talents and capabilities you have that prove you deserve one of those job titles.  Looking through your background and skills, which ones are most relevant to indicating that you’re ready to take on those job titles? It’s important here to select the most relevant ones, not just a grab bag of common professional skills. So, for example, if you’re going for a managerial role, listing ‘timeliness’ or ‘able to follow directions’ are each too low-level and not appropriate for the jobs you’re pursuing. Instead ‘Effective Communicator’ or ‘Drives Productivity’ might be better matches.

Explain what accomplishments you’ve had in your career that confirm you have those skills, talents, and capabilities. You’ve made the case that you have a certain set of capabilities or talents, now it’s time to back those claims up. What have you done in your recent career that can verify that you actually have those skills? Looking at the examples in the prior paragraph – for ‘Effective Communicator’ you might write ‘Successfully Led Teams Through M&A’ and for ‘Drives Productivity’ you might write ‘Increased Throughput 35%.’ Whatever your skills are, show what you’ve done with them, so that it is easy for your readers to understand how you’ve applied yourself at work.

Each of these steps creates one line in your professional summary. By using short phrases in a natural hierarchy, you provide HR professionals and your future boss with an easy-to-read, easy-to-scan summary that makes your ambitions easy to understand.

Add a Professional Headline

Advertise Who You Are

Now that you have the heart of your professional summary, go back and lead with a powerful professional headline. Your professional headline uses just three or four words to advertise who you are for your future boss.  It’s best to compose it from one adjective and your most likely desired job title.

Pick an Adjective That Describes You

For the adjective, pick something that your peers and past bosses would agree is your most defining characteristic in your role.  It could be “Hard-working,” or “Creative,” or “Innovative,” or “Accomplished.”  It should be positive, but not bragging, and it should showcase you in the most positive light.

Add Your Target Job Title

For the job title, you’ll use one of the job titles that you are targeting, not the job title you currently have.  After all, there’s no reason to advertise for the job you already have! So if you’re a manager looking to be a director, write “Logistics Director.”  If you’re a software engineer ready to rise, write “Senior Software Engineer.”  And if you’re finally ready for that corner office, indicate it with “Vice President.”

With these easy-to-follow instructions, your resume will be much more powerful. Rather than using a long paragraph, or a choppy grab bar list, the above professional summary draws your readers’ attention in, and delivers them a short, compelling, effective message about their next hire.

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  • August 19, 2021