Start Your Resume with an Attention-Grabbing Profile
11 March 2004
- A profile highlights the best of what you have to offer.
- Outline your skills, traits and accomplishments.
- Consider how employers think, and add info that reflects that.
Research has shown that your resume will probably get only a few seconds of a busy employer’s time — perhaps 30 seconds if you’re really lucky. So the sooner you can highlight your best offerings on your resume, the better the chance you’ll make an immediate impact on readers and nudge them to read on.
You can start your resume with a bang by featuring a profile — also known as a summary — section immediately beneath your contact information. The idea is to succinctly and clearly communicate to employers the very best you have to offer, your cream of the crop skills, traits and accomplishments. Think of it as the CliffsNotes version or executive summary of your full resume. It’s what you want readers to remember about you if they remember nothing else.
As you might imagine, figuring out what to include in your profile section is easier said than done. After all, it’s difficult enough to distill your life into a one- or two-page document. Further condensing that document into four or five key points might seem next to impossible. But it’s not.
To develop an effective profile section for your resume, follow this approach:
List Your Skills, Traits and Accomplishments on Scratch Paper
You may have already done this when you developed your resume. If not, take some time now, using your resume as a guide if needed, to write down your best, including the following:
- Skills: These are things you’re good at, whether it’s programming in C++, developing and implementing fundraising initiatives, designing posters and fliers to publicize events, or whatever.
- Traits: This includes being highly organized, knowing how to juggle many projects at once, being able to meet deadlines and so on.
- Accomplishments: The award you received for participating in community service, the commendation you got from your internship supervisor for making the company’s Web site more user friendly, the satisfaction you got from starting a new student organization from scratch and the like.
What’s Most Important to the Employer?
Put yourself in the place of the specific employer reading your resume. What do you predict he will be looking for? The answer will likely vary depending on the job you’ve applied for and the organization offering it. So don’t be afraid to customize your profile section accordingly. Make your best guess as to what skills, traits and accomplishments the employer wants to see most, and then present them in a way the employer will have trouble missing or ignoring them.
Need an example? Study Chris Ide’s sample resume in the Resume Center. Notice how the profile section quickly tells the reader that this person is a technologically oriented, well-organized problem solver who most likely has excellent people skills, not to mention a healthy dose of common sense. In a few seconds, the reader gets an excellent sense of what Ides has to offer. And the testimonial from Dr. Jones is a nice touch, proving Ides can back up her statements.
To learn more about writing an effective profile for your resume, read “How to Write a Career Summary.” Then put together your own resume profile, so the 10, 20 or 30 seconds of attention your resume initially receives will turn into minutes, a job interview, and then finally the job itself.
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