Avoiding Unsubstantiated Fluff in Your Resume Summary

BUILD MY RESUME

When I researched my book, Top Notch Executive Resumes, I learned that many hiring decision-makers don’t even read the material at the top of resumes — summaries, profile sections, and the like — because they consider them unsubstantiated fluff, a collection of subjective value judgments the job-seekers makes about himself or herself. On the other hand, as we learned in a post here last month, some decision-makers absolutely rely on the content at the top of the resume to determine how well the job-seeker fits the position. The key to this upper third (or less) of your resume’s first page is content that is well-crafted, specific, and substantiated. In other words, instead of using the tired description that you are “results-driven,” you actually spell out some results you’ve obtained for a past or present employer. Louise Fletcher, the resume writer behind yesterday’s post, an offer of a free resume-writing course, recently published a wonderfully detailed and comprehensive post describing exactly how she developed just such a well-crafted, specific, and substantiated summary section to kick off your resume. First, she gives the before version, a big block of type that no one will read. See it by mousing over the little camera icon just before this sentence. And, Fletcher points out that the before version is typically full of unsubstantiated claims. Then, out of the dense paragraph of type, Fletcher pulls specific information that will tell the reader at a glance what the candidate is looking for and what her best selling points are (See it by mousing over the little camera icon just before this sentence.) She presents these specific points as headlines. In the next iteration, Fletcher further breaks the block of type into bullet points that describe specific — and in most cases quantified — successes. (See it by mousing over the little camera icon just before this sentence.) In the next version, Fletcher adds credibility by inserting testimonials from the job-seeker’s LinkedIn profile. (See it by mousing over the little camera icon just before this sentence.) Fletcher decides, however, that the summary is now too long, and the number of testimonials detracts from the material underneath. Her final version is more streamlined but still packs a punch. (See it by mousing over the little camera icon just before this sentence.)

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