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ZAGWRITER's avatar

On a resume, is it appropriate to have a "professional summary" section to start it off?

Asked by ZAGWRITER (1506points) October 22nd, 2010

I just downloaded a word 2007 resume template and the first section says “professional summary.” I’m not sure what to put in it, let alone if this section should be on the resume, or where. Any ideas? This is my first time ever needing one of these. I haven’t had to look for a job since, well, never. My dad got me my first job when I was 16. I have just filled out applications since whenever I felt the need to change jobs.
Do I need to put everything down? I have had a few part time jobs while I have had full time jobs, and I can’t remember the contact info. I have a general idea of the jobs that I have had full time. Also, since I was fired from my last job, what should I put down for that? They weren’t very nice to me and I am pretty sure that if contacted, my immediate supervisor there would say not-so-nice things about me, with a wink and a nod to the person asking. I know that it is against the law for them to bad mouth me to an employer, but an asst. manager there described to me how they get around that. My brother said to say I was laid off.
I also do not recall the name of an immediate supervisor I had at the job I had nine years ago. what do I put?

Thank you for your time, I’m really not sure about all of this, heh.

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8 Answers

YoBob's avatar

A resume is far more than a work history. It is your (very narrow) opportunity to tell a perspective employer why you are a better choice for the job than the other gazillion resumes (s)he has piled on the desk.

The very most important items (IMHO) are the “Objective” section, which is a one or two sentence blurb just under your name that says clearly and concisely what you want to do with your career. HINT: Chances are the first person looking at this resume is somebody in an HR department that doesn’t know a damned thing about the job being filled. The only thing they know is the requirements that some manager in the hiring department specified. So… in order to get your resume placed in the “short pile” your objective statement should use as many of the key words found in the job description as possible.


Job Description: Framdoozel interface expert – experience in xyzabc interface techniques and PRABOOL preferred….

So, in your Objective statement:

To utilize my extensive xyzabc interface and PRABOOL experience to secure a position as a Framdoozel expert.

The second most important item is directly below the objective statement and should be titled “Skill Set”. This should take the form of a simple bullet item list with your skills. NOTE: this is not the same thing as job experience. It is a list of skills. It is also preferable if those skills include the above keywords:


- xyzabc interface
– etc…

The harsh reality is by this point in the resume the HR guy/gal has already decided which stack to put your resume in, the ones they call in for an interview or that other one located in the container under the desk.

GeorgeGee's avatar

The professional summary is intended to make it easy to figure out what kind of job someone is looking for and qualified for. If for instance you had 1 year as a farmer, 1 year as a baker, 1 year as a waiter, one year as an organic chemist and 1 year as a travel agent, someone reading through your job history might have no idea what kind of a job you’re looking for. However if you can state it in one paragraph as “Organic food nano-chemistry specialist, willing to travel” then they quickly know what you’re looking for and whether or not they have a job that you might be qualified for.

anartist's avatar

Some headhunters like this. One even suggested to me that I take my best achievements and put them in bullet points in this section.

ZAGWRITER's avatar

You have all been most excellent in your responses. Thank you.

mrrich724's avatar

I work in HR. I literally know people (and I am one of them) who think its a waste of time to read, and a waste of space on a resume.

Others really like it, and will read it.

It truly is a preference. Put it on or don’t :)

ZAGWRITER's avatar

ahh, ok. Do I need to put on my ss or wait till they ask for it?

mrrich724's avatar

Never give your SSN until they hire you, or have you fill out background check release forms . . .

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