Whether or not you choose to include an objective statement on your resume, you may wish to present a Qualifications Summary or Profile section. While objective statements are still considered optional resume elements, increasingly Profile/Summary sections are seen as mandatory.
In addition to Profile and Qualifications Summary, these resume-topping sections go by numerous names: Career Summary, Summary, Professional Profile, Qualifications, Strengths, Skills, Key Skills, Skills Summary, Summary of Qualifications, Background Summary, Professional Summary, Highlights of Qualifications. All of these headings are acceptable, but my favorite is Professional Profile.
Ten or 20 years ago or so, a Profile or Summary section was somewhat unusual on a resume. Career Experts trace the use of summaries or profiles to include information about candidates’ qualities beyond their credentials to the publication of the late Yana Parker’s The Damn Good Resume Guide in 1983. Today they are seen as an important resume element for several reasons:
- They help to sharpen the focus of the resume. As we saw in the Chapter 1, when read by humans, resumes are scanned extremely quickly. The employer wants to know at a glance what you want to do and what you can contribute.
- They help to capture the reader’s attention.
- They provide a good opportunity to front-load your resume with keywords. While job-seekers are no longer admonished to cram keywords into the first 100 words of their resumes as they once were, it’s still a good idea to use as many keywords as possible early in the resume just to make sure you get them in there.
- They are a way to present your Unique Selling Proposition – the selling point that distinguishes you from other candidates for the same position.
- They provide an opportunity to tailor your resume to a specific position or vacancy.
Some employers say they don’t like Summary/Profile sections because they are full of unsubstantiated fluff. Therefore, it’s incumbent upon the job-seeker to substantiate as much of the Summary/Profile section as possible with numbers, examples, and quotes from those who know your work. Any bullet points that are not substantiated in the Summary/Profile section itself should be substantiated later in the resume.
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