Without a doubt, the Professional Summary.
The professional summary is a holistic but concise snapshot of your profile, comprising three main aspects:
- Your experience (and outstanding achievements) - Refers to the domain, sector, organization, roles, etc. you’ve worked in/managed, as well as any extraordinary accomplishments within them, if applicable.
- Your skills - Refers to the skills you possess and have developed over the course of your professional experience to excel at your workplace. Includes both soft and hard skills.
- Your USP - Refers to your key strengths, including your professional areas of expertise. You can also include extracurriculars such as volunteering, or developed non-professional skills such as stand-up, music, etc.
Keep in mind, all of these (barring extracurriculars, should you choose to mention them) need to be geared towards the role you’re applying to - the summary is meant to portray you as the ideal candidate for that role, not the ideal worker in general. Thus, relevancy is the key aspect to remember while drafting any resume.
It requires the ability to identify cross-functional skills that can be applied to or are common across even drastically different domains.
For example, let’s say you’ve worked for a few months as a software engineer and want to switch to Marketing. They’re two widely different profiles - however, many skills (especially soft skills) overlap.
As both a software engineer and a marketing executive, you need to excel at understanding client requirements to deliver a product (be it an app or a campaign) to ensure utility and client satisfaction. Thus, interfacing with a client and understanding their requirements is a simple and basic, but vital skill applied to both domains
As a software engineer, let’s also assume that you were able to identify additional applications of your app in a completely different segment. This demonstrates the ability to identify new channels for generating revenue - a crucial skill for a marketer as well!
We’re often asked by our customers if they have a chance at landing an interview when applying for a job in a completely different domain. Clearly, the answer is a resounding YES! It’s vital to identify HOW to market yourself and your skills in a way that the recruiter is able to firmly establish a pertinent link between the role and your profile, without resorting to blatant lies.
Why is the Professional Summary the most important part of the resume?
Your Professional Summary is chronologically the first section of your resume containing details applicable to the role you’re applying for, and thus the first thing a recruiters’ eyes will fall on and scan through intently.
Its primary purpose is to ensure that the reader finds your profile relevant enough to the position applied to, to bother scanning the rest of your resume.
Thus, if your summary isn’t strong or relevant enough, your application will join the other rejects on the discard pile.
Apart from relevance, it also requires powerful content. No matter how relevant your profile, recruiters are also looking for leaders. They’re (more often than not) employing you for the long-term, and want to ensure you have the ability to do so.
Accordingly, your resume must reflect this ability with the usage of action verbs, leadership skills, and quantified information, along with any exceptional accomplishments (awards, honours, statistics, etc.) to lend weight and credence to your application.
How do we write a resume summary?
To craft an effective and powerful professional summary, you must focus on 3 aspects:
- Length - Your summary in its entirety should be a minimum of 3 points, and should not exceed 5 sentences/points. Additionally, each point should not be more than 3 lines long! This ensures that they read through the whole point rather than finding it too tedious to peruse.
- Language - Ensure that the summary is written using powerful action verbs and include leadership words, for a massive boost in hireability of up to 140%. It (obviously) needs to be free of any grammatical errors as well.
- Content - Quantified information is indispensable - it lends credibility and demonstrates the calculable impact that you’ve created.
Understandably, considering the sheer details, technicality and scope just a single section of a resume contains can be overwhelming, especially if you’re creating your resume from scratch. This is where professional resume writing services come through to ensure that no step or technicality is missed out, and our guide<link to “Should I pay someone to write my resume?”> can help you identify the best services out there for the same!
TL;DR - The most important part of a resume is the professional (or resume) summary. It serves as a snapshot of your profile, and essentially functions as your USP - only if your summary is powerful and relevant will recruiters read the rest of your resume. To ensure the same, it should be 3-5 points (no more than 3 lines each), should include action verbs & leadership words, and quantified content. It must contain the relevant experience, skills, achievements and strengths you possess.