If you have ever submitted your resume for a job opening, you were most likely told to be succinct in summarizing your career experiences. But do you know how to do so?
When I prepare my candidates for their interviews, the first thing I say to them is: “Tell me about yourself.” I like to lead the interview prep with this question because I like to hear how people summarize their previous accomplishments and future goals. It may come as no surprise that few people I talk to are able to share who they are and what they do without telling me their entire life story. As much as I enjoy hearing about someone’s overall background, a one-hour interview is not the appropriate place to spend so much time on personal details.
Likewise, a two-page resume should not be taken up by a 15-line summary section. When you have less than 30 seconds to convince a hiring manager that you’re the right fit for the job, your summary needs to be short and to the point to encourage them to continue reading.
OK, so by now you’re probably thinking, “So what’s this secret formula?” The answer is a three-sentence summary:
- One sentence for your present experience
- One sentence for past accomplishments
- One sentence for your future goals and career objectives
Here’s a good example I use for developers:
This approach is beneficial for both junior- and senior-level candidates because it’s information that applies to everyone across all industries and all career stages. And as a bonus, this summary can be applied to the interview that you’re sure to land!
Tips for narrowing down your experiences:
- Sit and write down extensive notes you have for each section (your present, your past, and your future).
- Look at the job description for which you are applying, and see how they align with your own experiences and future goals.
- Narrow down your experiences to those that directly relate to the job description.
- Think of how you can group similar experiences together into one to create general overviews of who you are and what you’ve done as a professional.
- Don’t forget to add in specific technical skills you have that are pertinent to a job.