Writing a Superstar’s Summary

Resume and CV have been the most important piece of paper in the working world wouldn’t you agree? You have mandated these documents to define you in a mere page or two, hoping that it will land you a job.

With an addition of about 260,000 graduates/year, and not to mention the existing pool, the job market has been more saturated than ever. Hiring managers are forced to increase their output and this spells disaster for job seekers! How? Well a study has suggested that on average, hiring managers only spend about 20 seconds to look at a resume/CV. Another study revealed that they spend even less, just 6 seconds!

So, how do you make the most out of your resume/CV?

By writing an impactful SUMMARY.

But, why is it important to write a good summary though?

A summary is your sales pitch, or elevation speech. It is the first thing that people will read when they go through your resume/CV. Within those 6 or even 20 seconds, you have to make them interested in you. So, having a good summary will definitely help you get picked.

A good summary should have the following:

  1. Catching the readers’ eyes instantly when they browse through your resume/CV.
  2. Customised to the target population.
  3. Direct and easy to understand at a glance.
  4. Highlighting the right skills, expertise and experience.

For example;

“An expert SAP FICO consultant with 10 years of experience working across various industries and multinational companies such as Petronas, Top Glove and Lazada. Adept user of the latest accounting systems, proficient in multiple procurement processes and well-versed in SAP FICO modules. A proven leader with good communication, critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Looking forward to work with a company with excellent growth opportunity “

A concise and easily understandable summary. Now let us dissect this summary, shall we?

  1. “An expert SAP FICO consultant with 10 years of experience…”

     

    If the company is looking for an SAP FICO consultant with experience, this summary has tackled it in just 8 words. There’s also the word ‘expert’, which indicates that this person is really reliable and confident in FICO modules. The person also immediately tells the audience how much experience he /she has. Well, now the audience is interested to read more.
  1. “…working across various industries and multinational companies such as Petronas, Top Glove and Lazada”

     

    Not only that the consultant has an ample amount of experience, he/she also had worked with reputable companies in different industries. This shows the vastness of the consultant’s experience, and better yet, it shows that he/she is good enough that these companies hired him/her!
  1. “An adept user of the latest accounting systems, proficient in multiple procurement processes and well-versed in SAP FICO modules.

     

    The consultant just swept the floor and told us right away of his/her skills in just a sentence. The skills can be customized to the potential employer’s requirements.
  1. “A proven leader with good communication, critical thinking and problem-solving skills.”

     

    These are the transferable skills. Transferable skills are skills that can be used regardless of your profession. Are they important? Yes, they are. You can include the ones that are relevant to the position you are applying for.
  1. “Looking forward to work with a company with excellent growth opportunity”

     

    This is the ‘would be’ objective of the resume/CV. This can also be tailored to the company you are applying to.

Now that is what a good summary should be. But I know, I am not doing you any favour yet have I? Easier said than done. Well at the end of this article, I assure you that you will be able to do it yourself.

Here are the steps that you can do in order to write a superstar’s summary:

  1. Title and experience

     

    Title of your summary is extremely important. Most of the time, it should be your current position. If your current position has something to do with the job you are applying, then that’s good. But what if your current position is way off the rail?

    What you can do is put a relevant position, as close as you can be. For example, you have been working for a company as a secretary for 2 years and you are applying for a Quality Assurance Officer in a food manufacturing factory. Putting ‘secretary’ as the summary’s title won’t get you anywhere. Instead, write ‘Processing and Documentation Expert’. If you are a mechanic applying for an engineering position, put ‘Technical Expert – Engineering Department’ instead.


Circumvent your way around. Find a way to stay in line.

Then, determine your experience in the particular field. In the previous example, it was straightforward 10 years. That would be a big plus for the applicant. But, what to write if you are a fresh graduate?

Well there’s always your internship. Every experience you gained so far is valuable. Everybody is looking for experience, so just put it, no matter how little you think it is.

For example;

“Completed 4 projects in just 2 months whilst handling various ad hoc tasks.”

What does this tell you? Well, your internship is just 2 months, not much you can boast right? But by combining how much you have done in that short period will greatly help you.

  1. List all your memorable achievements

     

    Most often than not, achievements, especially the ones you get along your career, are more valuable than you think they are. If you have any achievements worthy of mention, list them down. When you have done so, choose one or two (if you have more than that) to be included in the summary.

    For example;

  1. Handled an offshore account valued at USD 2 billion.
  2. Formulated a new accounting system for ABC Sdn Bhd, reducing their operational cost up to RM 5 million
  3. Devised a corrective measure to reduce the procurement cost of CBA Sdn Bhd up to RM 500,000 per year.


“What if I’m a fresh graduate?”

Fret not, just write the highest achievements you got so far! You handled a dinner and drove it to success? Put it in the list. You successfully rose a fund amounting to RM 10,000? Put it in. You joined numerous charity events? Well, PUT IT IN!

  1. List your skill set

     

    After achievements, skill set is the most valued thing in a resume. List all your skills that you think are relevant to the position you are applying for. For example, if this person is applying for an accountant position, these skills might just help him/her:
  1. Proficient in using Quickbooks
  2. Handling large and complicated accounts
  3. Adept in taxation system of several countries including Malaysia, Singapore and the USA.

    Just list all the skills you are confident in. the elimination process can take place later. Don’t worry, I’ll help you decide too.

  1. Write down all your transferable skills

     

    Transferable skills are highly important, be it if you are a professional or just a graduate fresh out of the school. It can be used across industries and regardless of what position you are applying for. For example:
  1. Excellent communication and interpersonal skills
  2. Work well under pressure
  3. A versatile and dynamic individual
  4. Proven leadership ability
  5. Critical and analytical thinking skills

    They all sound good right? If so, why are transferable skills number 3, not number 1? Makes you wonder, doesn’t it?

    Well because it will look like you are boasting right off the bat. Transferable skills tell people who you are more than what you can do. In a summary, it is important to tell people what you can do first and then you can sell who you are as a future employee. It is all psychological, people. After all, hiring managers are human, like us.

  1. Research the job description

     

    When you go and apply for a job, make sure you read the job description thoroughly. It is like a cheat sheet for you. The company has already told you what they want in a candidate. Use that to tailor your resume to fit it.

    From the job description alone, you can get all the technical skills required as well as the transferable skills they desire in their candidate. Having said that, by now, you should have known that every job requires a different summary. If you apply for a hundred jobs, you should have a hundred summaries.

    Now, this is where you decide which skill set you would like to put in your summary. Don’t crowd it with all of them. Pick 3 or 4 that match the requirements the best. The same can be said for your transferable skills. Most JDs have already mentioned what kind of a person they are looking for. So, be that person, choose 3-5 of them and include it in your summary.

    By doing so, the chance of you getting through the Applicant Tracking System (ATS) used by hiring managers out there will be high. What they do is, they just type in the keywords and whoever pops out, they will be the ones who get to the next stage.

    Then, when the hiring managers actually looked at your resume, then they’ll be awed and compelled to interview you. Isn’t that swell? 


Final thoughts

Remember, a summary is the very heart of your resume/CV. You have to capture the readers’ attention when they go through yours. It is also like an introductory speech, an informal ‘handshake’ if you will, before you even meet the hiring managers. You have to give the best impression you can.

Don’t be too complacent and lazy to customize your summary for every job that you apply. It takes only several minutes to do so and just maybe, that several minutes might make your day!

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