How to Create Great Resume Summaries

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By Jennifer L. Hay

Writing your resume summary is by far the hardest part of writing your technical resume. It’s difficult to know what to include and more importantly, what to leave out. Think of your resume summary as an elevator speech. It needs to be short enough to present during a brief elevator ride and it needs to be interesting enough to get and keep someone’s attention. This speech is all about you: who you are, what you do, and what you want to do.

You can include just about anything in your resume summary – your soft skills, hard skills, technologies, project information, education, hobbies. The focus is on a clear, concise, and compelling message that doesn’t bore the reader to tears.

Some people choose not to include a summary and start with their technology section.
Even if you are recent graduate include a summary. Here is an example of using quotes in a resume summary. These quotes can be from internships, volunteer work, school projects, etc. Quotes are particularly valuable because they provide a different perspective about how you work and the value you provide. Don’t use specific names unless you have permission.

___________

Dedicated and motivated Jr. Systems Administrator with the demonstrated aptitude to learn and utilize new and complex technologies. Uses ‘attention to detail’ skills and persistence to stick with a problem until its resolution.

Manager quotes during summer internships:

  • “Through perseverance, Tanya worked with our team to complete a Windows upgrade within a tight timeline. She was individually responsible for verifying hardware requirements for each PC and then backing up data files to a safe location.” Manager at XYZ Company
  • “Tanya worked with our Business Analyst to understand the requirements gathering process and how to work with business users to facilitate discussions about their business needs. Manager at ABC Company

___________

Some people include 3-4 generic statements.
Including a generic statement in your resume summary is fine but also try to connect it with your own career. For example, do you work in global environments, artificial realty environments, cloud (PaaS, IaaS) environments, startup environments, extremely fast-paced environments, or in a specific industry? Make the generic statement specific to you.

Stay away from statements that aren’t fully supported in your experience section. Basically, if you mentioned something in your summary, include specific examples in your experience section.

An OK summary –
An accomplished Software Engineering professional with demonstrated success in the design, development, and implementation of software applications. Solid experience in team leadership, project leadership, requirements gathering, analysis, design specifications, software testing (unit testing), and documentation. Develops software and processes to improve functionality, increase productivity and streamline deployment.

  • The first sentence is what every software engineer does.
  • The second sentence just describes the software development lifecycle
  • The third sentence describes basically the goal of just about every software project.

A specific and memorable summary –
Software Engineer and Analyst experienced throughout the SDLC for critical enhancements to Enterprise Business Software – Supply Chain Management, Warehouse Management, Manufacturing, and Corporate ERP Systems.  Optimizes business processes with a focus on the usability of software, efficiency of processing, and accuracy of results. Depth of experience working with team members in a highly collaborative culture.

___________

Some people include a long list of things from strategy to operations. The following is from an IT Director’s resume summary.

The bullet items covered an entire page.

  • Advocated use of DevOps tools like GitHub, Jenkins, Jira, etc.
  • Led Service Delivery Managers responsible for Application Maintenance and Enhancement services.
  • Implemented horizontal services such as Validation, Test Automation service, Project Management and Data Archival service.
  • Drafted many Statements of Work that described scope, responsibilities, risks, assumptions, and charging.
  • Extensively used project management tools MS Project and Prochain for project planning and tracking.
  • Hands on experience in Informatica Power Center, PL/SQL, Tableau, Snowflake etc.
  • Led an Enterprise Data Storage program that was honored with an IT Achievement Award in recognition of outstanding results.

This is the technique I used to condense the information into memorable chucks.

I took over 20 bullet items and condensed them into four categories.

Portfolio Management. Program Management, Customer Relationship Management, and Solutions Delivery. Within each of these areas, I described my client’s soft skills, program achievements, as well as the technology he used. It was much easier to scan and understand. Most importantly, the summary presented him as a highly experienced IT Director, and not an IT Project Manager.

Completing the following statements will get at the core of who you are and help you identify your strengths. That information can then be used to create a resume summary that fits your career goals and makes your resume memorable.

Give it some time to think these through. 

  • My background is unique because _____.
  • My ______ makes me different from others who do the same job.
  • I’ve developed a reputation for _______________.
  • At the heart of my experience are these three strengths: _______________.
  • My former managers/peers would agree that I am good at what I do because _______________.
  • I have a natural talent that makes me better than most. Please describe.

This information combined with your professional experience can be used to create a truly compelling resume summary.

About Jennifer Hay

I’ve been writing technical resumes and advising on career transitions for almost 15 years.

Throughout that time, I’ve read numerous articles about best practices for IT resume writing. What I found in those articles is a lot of bad information because it’s the same advice they give for non-technical professionals. This is important because IT resumes are different.

I built this website to share what I’ve learned in my career. I think you’ll find information on this website that will help make your IT resume a success.

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