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5 Tips for Writing a Resume Summary Paragraph

I have advised thousands of executives who have come and conquered New York City, so I possess a time-tested approach to constructing a summary career paragraph. This approach will enable you to succinctly express what you have done in your career, what you are good at, and how you can add value to the next organization that hires you. Below are the questions to ask yourself that can lead to a strong, original and powerful career summary. (The example I use below is a fictitious junior finance professional).

Writing a Resume Summary Paragraph (Photo: George Marks/Retrofile/Getty Images)

Who are you, and what are you good at?
Describe your profession with the specific skills you possess that fit the role for which you are applying – for example: “A top rated investment banking analyst with exceptional proficiency in valuation, financial modeling, and market research.”

Where are you working now, and what do you specialize in?
Future employers want to know exactly where you’ve been and what you do there, so state that very clearly: “Rose to a second-year analyst position at Credit Suisse responsible for facilitating M&A deals for the Global Industrials Group.”

What skills do you possess that are transferrable to your ideal role?
In your summary, link what specific skills will resonate with a future employer to show that you have a solid understanding of what that new employer wants and how you’d fit in: “Ability to conduct comparable company analysis against multiple factors directly transferable to an investment analyst role on the buy side.”

What strengths would you and your co-workers say you have?
At the end of your summary, highlight the additional strengths you have. Thinking about how others regard your talent should spark inspiration: “Outstanding presentation skills, resulting being regularly called upon to deliver information before senior banking leaders.”

Finally, what’s in a degree?
If you have a lot of years of experience and use a traditional resume (reverse chronological order) your education might end up buried on page two. If you went to a strong school and it’s a selling point, you can keep the value that this point brings to page one by including a quick hit on your degree and alma mater in the last sentence of your summary: “BA, Economics, Harvard University.”

Debra Wheatman is a certified writer and career coach who has guided the professional development of thousands of clients globally. She is reachable at debra@careersdonewrite.com.

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