The resume profile (or summary) describes your main credentials for your target job. Appearing at the top of the resume, it’s the first section hiring managers read and strongly influences whether they call you for an interview.

You may feel lost when developing your profile, especially if you’re just starting your resume. But it’s best to work on the profile after you’ve already drafted your professional experience, education, training, and other relevant areas. Then, you can develop your profile with a broader understanding of your career so far.

Profiles vs. Objective Statements

For a long time, the standard resume intro was an objective statement that would appear above or in place of the profile. Rather than describing an applicant’s key qualifications, the objective would state their end goal for their job search. An example is “Seeking a sales role where I can work on building win-win relationships with clients.” In recent years, the objective has fallen out of favor since it speaks to the job seeker’s needs rather than the hiring manager’s. So avoid using an objective and instead begin your resume with a profile summary of what you offer.

The Five Steps to a Profile

When you’re ready to start your profile, follow these steps:

Step 1. Write a simple statement of your job title and years of experience

For example, say you’re a sales manager who has risen through the ranks over 10 years. Start your profile with a line like:

Resourceful sales manager with over 10 years of advancement and experience.

But if you’re changing careers, use a more general intro statement that still relates to your goals and reflects your background. For instance, say you’d like to stay in sales but no longer in a leadership capacity. Use a broader line like “Resourceful sales professional with over 10 years of experience” to position yourself for the switch back to direct sales.

Step 2. Pinpoint and develop a common theme

Look over all your other resume sections and select three to five details that strike you as especially impressive or relevant. Then, review them all together. Does a common work theme or strength emerge? Write one or two profile sentences on that theme. For instance, if your highlights point to your expertise in engaging and collaborating with clients, that’s a great area to write about further.

Step 3. Avoid clichés by way of action verbs

At this stage, you may run into the problem of profile clichés. For instance (continuing the above example), you might describe your collaborative streak as “Excellent communication and collaboration skills.” But terms like this are overused and won’t add much value to your profile.

To avoid clichés and liven up your profile language, use complete sentences with action verbs. Think about what you actually do at work – the actions (or verbs) you take to generate results. This approach can turn a static word like “collaboration” into a specific, verb-powered phrase like “Collaborate with clients to find win-win product solutions.”

Step 4. Cite a specific achievement

If one or more of your highlights is a quantified achievement from your work history, you can repeat it in your profile to make the description more compelling and specific to you. Say one of your highlights is “Surpassed quota by 10% in 2013, 18% in 2014, 20% in 2015, and 22% in 2016 and 2017.” Consider adapting it to your profile with a phrase like “Achievements include surpassing quota by over 18% on average for five consecutive years.”

Putting together the steps so far, we have the basis for a strong profile:

Resourceful sales professional with over 10 years of experience. Collaborate with clients to find win-win product solutions, driving consistent revenue and profit growth. Achievements include surpassing quota by over 18% on average for five consecutive years.

Step 5. Plug in other key credentials

You can then round out your profile with one or two more statements on your other top qualifications. If one of your other highlights is an advanced degree or certification, that can give your summary a strong outro. Also, note that foreign language ability is often viewed as a key asset by employers, so if you have it, feature it in your profile.

Tying It All Together

After following these five steps, you should have a viable resume profile of your own, something on par with this finished example:

Resourceful sales professional with over 10 years of experience. Collaborate with clients to find win-win product solutions, driving consistent revenue and profit growth. Achievements include surpassing quota by over 18% on average for five consecutive years. Offer well-rounded business acumen and expertise, drawing on a recently finished MBA degree. Bilingual: fluent in English and French.

But then consider: Are you missing anything important? Have you left out a work highlight or skill area that’s key to your next job? If yes, add a sentence or two on those missing areas and take heart that you’re gaining an ear for the type of information a winning profile calls for.

Frequently Asked Questions About Writing a Resume Profile

Do I need a profile summary on my resume?-

Yes. Virtually any job seeker can improve their resume by adding a profile. A strong profile section catches a hiring manager’s attention by giving the key reasons you’ll thrive at their organization. In seconds, it assures the reader that you’re a strong candidate whose application is worth a closer look.

How long should my profile be?-

Many resume experts give strict parameters for profile length; three or four lines of text is the standard order. But profiles are more flexible than that. Don’t worry if your own profile comes in shorter or longer, given you’ve followed this process. And never add fancy language to your summary for its own sake.

What experience areas should I cite in my profile?-

Any, as long as they help present you as a strong candidate for your target job. Most job seekers will derive at least some profile content from their work experience. But you could also use details from your education, volunteer experience, or any other section of your resume.

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