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How to get started on your resume: write your professional summary first

Last week we discussed the very first step you should take in preparing a winning resume. Spoiler alert – in case you haven’t read that piece of career advice – it’s to conduct in-depth research into the company and the job that you want to apply for.

Examining the culture and communication style of the company, and compiling a list of your most relevant assets for the job will help you write a resume that gets noticed and wins interviews.

So, once you’ve done your research, and you have the information you need, how do you get started? What is the first step to creating that winning resume?

Write your professional summary

Other than your resume title and contact information, your professional summary should be the first thing that employers read in your resume. It should be located right at the top where more traditional resumes might have included an objective statement.

This piece of text should be a short paragraph or a few bullet points that summarize your most relevant skills, experiences, and achievements. It is your elevator pitch, a quick way to communicate right off the top that you are qualified for the job and can bring value to the role.

Ideally, this paragraph will grab the employer’s attention and make them want to read the rest of your resume for more detail.

For example:

    Experienced Sales Manager with ten years of increasingly senior roles leading sales strategies for major brands. Demonstrated expertise in the development and implementation of sales plans, improving relationships with customers and in new client acquisition. Delivered a 45% YOY increase in sales for 2019. Twice awarded top honours as Sales Representative of the Year.

Then, you can use this opening paragraph to help you focus your writing of the sections of your resume that follow. Describe your previous work experience and accomplishments in such a way that they back up your elevator pitch. How have you used the skills and experience that are most relevant to the job you want in the past to produce successful results and benefit your previous employers?

How does your education tie into the needs of the role?

Having your application follow this formula, highlighting your most essential credentials, and your related accomplishments, will produce a resume that stands out from the pool of candidates for a job.

It all begins with your professional summary. List the number of years of relevant experience you have for the targeted job. Then, choose the three or four most impressive skills or accomplishments you bring to the table and describe them in engaging sentences or bullets. Feel free to bold the key points of each bullet.

For the best results, try to quantify each achievement, and tie these to the requirements of the job that you are after.

Write your professional summary first. Having already articulated your key selling points, it can be much easier to write the other sections of your resume along the same relevant theme. Employers appreciate resumes that are customized for their job, and they won’t take the time to hunt through a document to see if you are a viable candidate. Make it clear that you are – right from your opening paragraph.

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