The article, "A Resume Summary Tells Employers What They Want to Know FAST," by Linda Nathanson, Ph.D., remains one of my favorite how-to articles of all time. It appeared in the January/February 2002 issue of Resume Writers' Digest.
I want to share the "essence" of the formula with you.
A Basic Formula For Writing a Resume Summary
1. GENERIC LABEL
Have the client identify his/her primary profession or position that he/she is in or hopes to be in
Examples: accountant, insurance professional, sales rep
Avoid using company-specific job titles or ones that don't convey a profession (i.e, Vice President)
2. GENERAL DESCRIPTOR
Put an adjective in front of the label.
Examples: Skilled, Talented, Creative, Seasoned, Experienced
If the label refers to a profession or position the candidate hopes to attain, use the adjective "Prospective." it communicates an intended career direction and is ideal for recent graduates or career changers.
with [time] in [industry]
… with 18 years in the data processing industry
… with extensive experience in graphic design
… with a career history in the telecommunications industry
4. JOB SOUGHT
Tell the reader where your client would fit into an organization. Avoid company-specific job titles.
… seeking a senior-level accounting position
… seeking an entry-level or trainee position with a career path in the insurance industry
Seasoned accounting professional with 8+ years in the construction industry seeking a senior-level accounting position. Background includes experience managing all accounting-related functions in construction companies. Excellent management and problem-solving skills. Has a track record in implementing accounting policies and procedures. Proficient in using online accounting systems. Organized, detail-oriented and very hardworking.
About the author: Linda Nathanson is a contributing author to A Funny Thing Happened at the Interview. (Editor's Note: We erroneously reported that a new book by Linda, Resumes that Sock It to 'Em would be released on Oct. 15. In an e-mail to me, Linda noted that the book is not currently scheduled for print, but will have to await her retirement. We hope that's soon, Linda!)