Land the Job With These 4 Executive Summary Tips

You’ve heard the job search aphorism that a recruiter only spends five seconds on average scanning a resume before deciding if a candidate moves forward or not. Besides having a polished resume, what else do you need to improve your chances? An executive summary.

An executive summary on your resume is similar to your “highlight reel” or what you would write on your LinkedIn profile summary. It’s a concise couple of sentences that highlight your special skills and accomplishments positioned at the top of your resume. So when a recruiter does their five-second scan, they’ll have a clear picture of who you are and why you’re a good fit for the position and the company.

How is an executive summary different from an objective statement? An objective statement is a line on your resume explaining the type of role you’re searching for and what you’re looking for in a job. It is considered outdated by today’s recruiters because it focuses on what the candidate wants for themselves, not the value they can bring to the company. An executive summary is different because it sums up your professional achievements and skills into a value proposition on how you can contribute to the company.

Here are some dos and don’ts on creating the executive summary that will land you an interview:

DO use a few keywords from the job description

A lot of resumes submitted through a company’s website go through a computer scan, which is the first test before getting into a recruiter’s hands. Fit keywords into your summary as organically as possible, but don’t overdo it. Copying and pasting every skill from the job description may get you past a computer, but once an actual human scans it they’ll snuff out your copy-and-paste game and immediately dump your resume into the recycle bin.

DON’T be vague

Like the rest of your resume, being vague in your executive summary will only make you look like you haven’t accomplished anything. A recruiter wants to find a good fit with the qualities listed in the job listing, but you still want to make yourself stand out with an interesting fact or accomplishment. Avoid overly-used phrases such as “results-driven” and “extremely organized.” Instead of “results-driven,” use an example such as, “Ambitious sales associate who exceeded quarterly goals by 50% for the past year.”

DO keep it short

A quality executive summary can be expressed in three to five sentences. Think of it as the “30-second elevator pitch” on your resume–except it’s written and you only have five seconds. It should highlight what makes you a good fit but also pulls the recruiter in so they want to read the whole resume and eventually call you in for an interview.

DON’T be boring

Depending on the role you’re applying for, be creative with how you present your executive summary. If you’re looking for a design role, you would want to present your summary in the most visually appealing way possible. If you’re searching for a role where you need to be more conservative with resume layout, such as financial services, use vivid details that will paint the image you want to present of yourself. Research different executive summary samples online. Take your favorite aspects and verbiage from different ones and create an executive summary that makes most sense for you and the type of job you want.