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The Executive Summary

Updated: Jul 20, 2021

An executive summary allows you to stand out from the other candidates. It’s about rapidly showcasing accomplishments, thus increasing your chances of getting shortlisted for an interview with the hiring manager.

Table of Contents

  1. Overview of the Executive Summary

  2. What is an Executive Summary?

  3. Why Is an Executive Summary Important

  4. How to Write A Great Executive Summary

  5. Wrapping Up

1. Overview Of The Executive Summary

There are many reasons why an executive summary remains one of the essential sections of your resume. First, an executive summary gives you an opportunity to stand out from the other applicants.

Secondly, it allows you to showcase your accomplishments, thus increasing your chances of getting shortlisted for an interview.

This post will walk you through how you can write an excellent executive summary with actionable tips.

But before that, let’s define what an executive summary is and how it sits within an ATS resume.

2. What Is An Executive Summary?

An executive summary is a short career summary that sits at the top of your resume for the purpose of showcasing your fit and your value proposition for the target job role.

In most cases, job applicants use this section to list their top achievements to give them an upper hand in getting shortlisted for an interview.

Usually, an executive summary will be between 3 to 5 sentences and sits below your name and contact information.

But why is your executive summary so important? Why do recruiters and the hiring manager care?

3. Why Is An Executive Summary Important?

An executive summary is essential because it makes every job applicant unique by highlighting their achievements and experiences.

Unlike a resume objective that tries to show the recruiters what you’d like to gain if granted the opportunity, an executive summary showcases what you can offer as an active summary statement.

To get a high-level position or job, you need experience and a track record of success you have had listed on your executive summary.

Simply, recruiters don’t read through resumes word by word. Instead, they quickly scan through your executive summary to see if you’ve got enough experience.

But that’s not all; there is more to why an executive summary is essential. Let’s explore even more in-depth.

A. Articulates Your Value as a Job Seeker

Recruiters read your executive summary first, so it will help if you put in the required information (your accomplishments) right there (on your executive summary).

Your accomplishments quickly state your value; it gives recruiters a quick overview of what you can do; how experienced you are to handle a given job.

Including your accomplishments and experience in your executive summary hooks the reader (the recruiter), encouraging them to continue reading your resume.

B. Ensures You Stand Out to the Employer

You always have to keep in mind that many other candidates (often hundreds) are applying for the same position and the only way out is to stand out from the other applicants.

Your executive summary is an opportunity to differentiate between every applicant, so you need to treat it differently by including only what is essential in that section.

Save the recruiters the hassle of looking for the most critical things or preventing them from passing over your application by including in the executive summary relevant experiences and making clear the years of experience as required by the job description.

Hopefully, you now have a clear understanding of why an executive summary is essential in your resume.

The next questions most probably would be – how do I write an excellent executive summary?

4. How To Write A Great Executive Summary

A. Identify the Recruiter’s Needs

Before you apply for any job, you need to understand the job description. Understanding the job description will help you tailor your job application to what employers need.

Once you have read and understood the job’s scope, you need to tailor your executive summary to include what recruiters are most interested in – your accomplishments.

For example, if recruiters or human resources are looking for scientists, ensure that you’ve listed the required lab techniques. If they are looking for a business consultant, show the employer how you’ve driven results for other businesses as a leader in your field.

B. Make it Your Story

In as much as you will be trying to prove what you will be offering to the organization, the focus of your executive summary should be about you.

Sadly, most executive summaries can come off as robotic or worse, boring. An example of such an executive summary would read something like this:

Highly motivated procurement officer who works within the ethics of the procurement guidelines.

There’s nothing wrong with that. However, you need to treat your executive summary differently because it is the section that recruiters are interested in.

This would be better:

Results-driven procurement officer rewarded for developing a new platform and clear best practices for improving departmental standards.

Use your executive summary to list down your skills, accomplishments, and experiences in a way that shows contributions to the organization.

C. Jot Down the Bullets

Once you’ve got an overview of what is expected of you, it’s time to write your executive summary, and this is where things get interesting. Because we know how your executive summary is essential to you and the recruiters, we have included bullets to help you understand what you need to include in every paragraph. Rather than including your accomplishments, experiences, and skills in prose, we suggest that you include these in bullets so that it’s easy to read through quickly.

Bullet 1: The Pitch

  • Summarize who you are, for example, a creative biochemist

  • Match your title (if possible) to the desired title of the role you are seeking

  • Be brave and don’t copy another template

Bullets 2-3: The Skills

  • Emphasize your most critical skills—for example, a deep understanding of the procurement ERP systems

  • Ensure your skills are up-to-date

Bullets 4-5: The Cultural Fit

  • Describe your personality or unique outlook

  • For example, a former procurement officer at company X is well prepared to help organizations source materials to get value for money

5. Wrapping Up

Your executive summary is essential during a hiring manager’s first impression, and that is why you need to pay attention to it. It is like your introduction; you need to aim at grabbing the reader’s attention and keep them glued to your resume.

And the good news is that adding relevant skills, experiences, and accomplishments make your resume stand out from the other applicants. And remember that numbers play a significant role in making recruiters believe what you include in your summary statements.


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