Tag Archives: Resume Summary

Starting with years of experience in your elevator pitch and on resume could hurt you

It’s inevitable. When an older job seeker delivers their elevator pitch to me, they lead with something like “I have 20 years of experience in project management.” My reaction to this auspicious beginning is that it’s not…auspicious. In other words, the person’s years of experience doesn’t impress.

The same principle applies to a resume; touting years of experience in the Summary doesn’t impress a reader. It certainly doesn’t impress me. And I imagine it doesn’t impress hiring authorities, as evident by a raging poll that is only two-days old on LinkedIn.

What impresses me AND employers is what you’ve accomplished most recently, say in the last five to seven years, and that your accomplishments are relevant to the employer’s needs. In addition, because you have 20 plus years of experience doesn’t prove you’ve been productive.

Angela Watts is a former recruiter turned recruiter has this to say about showing value over years of experience:

“Years of experience in and of itself means nothing… you may have been doing a job very poorly for 20+ years. Show me the accomplishments… the pattern of success across roles and companies… your compelling value proposition for THIS open position.”

Hannah Morgan is a career coach and speaker who advises candidates to talk about relevant value and using a hook to begin the elevator pitch and the resume Summary:

This has been a pet peeve of mine since I started! It’s always about what you know how to do (problems you solve). The number of years is irrelevant. Explain the level at which you perform your job! And yes, always get them with a hook. Make it relatable!

If you ask 10 people how someone should deliver their elevator pitch or begin their resume Summary (more about the Summary below), you’ll get 10 different answers. This doesn’t mean the answers will be wrong; it simply means the components of each will vary slightly or be arranged in a different manner.

Your elevator pitch

Following is my opinion on how to deliver the elevator pitch without stating years of experience.

Start strong

Instead of beginning your elevator pitch with the number of years you’ve been in occupation and industry, explain why you enjoy what you’re doing. That’s right, tell the interviewers or fellow networkers what drives you in your work. I’m tempted to say what you’re passionate about, but why not?

People like to hear and see enthusiasm. Especially employers who are hiring people for motivation and fit. Sure, technical skills matter. Employers need to know you can do the job, but your years of experience doesn’t prove you can do the job. “I have 20 years of experience” is a “So what?” statement.

Let’s look at a sample answer to “Tell me about yourself.” The following statement shows enthusiasm and draws the listener’s attention, especially with inflection in your voice:

I knew marketing communications was the route I wanted to take as soon as I realized what an impact it has stakeholders. Playing an integral role in getting the company’s message out to the public is one of my greatest pleasures, (slight rise in voice) especially when it increases awareness of our products or services.

Back it up with relevant accomplishments

This part of your elevator pitch is the most important, as you will speak to the employer’s needs. Two or three relevant accomplishments of what you’ve achieved most recently is best. But keep in mind they don’t want to hear your life story. Keep it brief, yet impactful.

(Big smile) One of my greatest accomplishments is having recently led a social media team of five who were able to increase traffic to my previous company’s website 250% since I took over. I was hired for the role because of my (slight rise in voice) leadership abilities and intimate knowledge of the platforms we used, such as: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.

(Slight pause)

One of my favorite aspects of communications is writing content for press releases, whitepapers, customer success stories, newsletters, and product releases. My former boss said I was the most prolific writer he’s seen. More importantly, (slight rise in voice) I increased our organization’s visibility by 40%.

(Another slight pause)

I know you’re looking for someone who can create and conduct webinars. I have extensive experience over the past five years delivering three webinars a week on a consistent basis. These were well received by our (spread arms wide) 10s of thousands of viewers. One of my favorites was interviewing the VP once a month.

Wrap it up with energy

You’ve made it to the concluding statement. Maintain the energy that makes you the go-getter all employers want. Make them look past your age and focus on what you’ve achieved. A strong ending will set the tone for the rest of the interview. Use the word “energy.” If you say it, they’re more likely to believe it.

I’d like to end by saying that I’ve received multiple awards of recognition from my colleagues for not only the expertise I demonstrated (slight rise in voice) but also the energy I exuded. In addition, I was often told by my boss that if she could clone me she would. I will bring to your company the experience required and the energy needed to get things done.

You might be an older candidate, but by not letting interviewers to focus on your 20-years of experience and more on what you’ve accomplished, your chances of wowing them will be greater. They would if I were interviewing you.

What about the resume Summary or Value Proposition?

I propose that your Summary shows personality as well as value you’ll deliver to the employer. You might consider it a miniature elevator pitch. The example below is written in first person point of view, which gives the Value Proposition more personality.

I Identify and minimize risk by predicting the demand for products and adopting new technology with no interruption to the process.

One of my fortes is implementing strategies to speed up the processes of packing, loading and delivering products, thereby increasing customer satisfaction.

“Shannon has brought innovative supply chain strategies to (company) which made us more efficient and save cost. Our customers were extremely pleased with Shannon’s attention to their needs.” Bob Jones, VP Operations, ABC Company

The quote is not a mistake. Quotes can be very impactful because what others say about you weighs heavier that what you say about yourself, especially if it’s coming from someone as high as the VP of operations.


Selected quotes from the poll

Kevin D. Turner: Experience naturally is both Quality & Quantity but I recommend not leading with Quantity. XX Years of Experience was once a perceived value and now can be a limiter to a sizable % of those decision makers who are doing the hiring.

To many, XX years of experience, could bring up thoughts like; ‘they are set in their ways and won’t do it our way,’ ‘they have so many years of experience, we just can’t afford them,’ or ‘How will Bob with XX years of experience relate to 95% of our staff that are Millennials and Gen Z’s?” Put Quality first and let them figure out quantity.

Karen Tisdell: In Australia starting a profile with “I have 20 years experience in…” is standard. It’s also counter to our culture of mateship. 20 years implies that you are better than someone with only 2 or 5 years, and yet we all know that people don’t always have to have years of experience to be brilliant at their job.

Only recently a client of mine won an industry award and he has only been in the industry 5 years, and two of those were part-time. I dislike the ‘where’s my crown?’ implication in the 20 years rhetoric, as you say Bob McIntosh – it’s far from auspicious. It’s snooty, top-down, hierarchical.

Rich Ormond: I think that years of experience are very relevant, although certainly not the totality. If what you say is the default way of thinking, then people like me are in trouble. I’ve essentially had three careers so far — renewable energy, international aid, and now career services.

What’s more, I’ve gone back and forth between them (especially the first two). If I can only count what I’ve done in the last five to seven years, then I can never transition back to a former career.

No, if I ever decide to do so, you can be sure that I will be relying heavily on my years of experience in those fields, citing my recent years only as building complimentary skills. For those like me who do not have linear careers, listing your years of experience in a field is a must, I think.

Virginia Franco: I agree completely — your years of experience isn’t nearly as important as what you’ve done during that time. That being said, it’s confusing for job seekers because job posting usually list desired years of experience!

Meg Applegate: I wholeheartedly agree, Bob! Lead with your unique value not length of tenure. Answer the “why does this matter?” question and the WIIFM questions that hiring managers are asking when reading your resume.

LAURA SMITH-PROULX:I cannot stand to hear elevator pitches (or read resume / LinkedIn summaries) that tout XX years of experience, Bob McIntosh, because there are SO many better ways to describe oneself!

I have the unfortunate lens of having worked at an organization with longtime employees who’d simply clung to their jobs, with no real innovation or achievements to claim. Mere survival in one’s industry is of little value.

The other problem with this statement is that you could be up against candidates with a similarly lengthy career – and THEN what will you use for differentiation? Employers can quickly read or interpret your age and length of experience. Your career branding approach (throughout your elevator pitch and documents) must take care of the rest

Debra Feldman: ⚠ Years of experience can set off an alarm for older candidates. Rather emphasize accomplishments that are relevant to the needs of the employer. What’s that saying about it’s not the years in your life but the life in your years!

Why your LinkedIn profile resembles a combination résumé

You probably know what chronological and functional résumés are. Now imagine the two documents joined together as one. What you have is a résumé that demonstrates your areas of expertise as well as your accomplishment-rich work experience.

Reading a Resume

A while ago I wrote an article on how your LinkedIn About section can be similar to a functional résumé. Now I’ll take the concept a little further by explaining how your About and Experience sections can resemble a combination résumé if done properly.

The About section as the résumé Summary and  functional area

You might have been told that the About section needs to tell a story, which it should. However, if you want to highlight your areas of expertise (the functional résumé), you need to make them blatantly clear.

Following is partial example of one of my client’s About section which closely resembles the functional piece of a combination résumé beginning with ► BUILDING TALENTED TEAMS.

New technologies have the power to transform a business, especially when brought to market in the form of new products and services. That is what I enjoy doing.

Advanced materials and processes can form the basis for a product portfolio that will generate repeat revenues for years to come – if a company is able to leverage those innovations. I have been fortunate to participate in several technology firms where we did exactly that. Here are a few keys to our success:

► BUILDING TALENTED TEAMS – of professionals who are leaders in their respective areas. Then, encouraging and rewarding them for their collective success.

► ENGINEERING CREATIVE SOLUTIONS – that solve the customer’s problem, but also create manufacturing differentiators that will lead to follow-on production.

► OPERATIONAL SKILL – to simplify designs, improve on-time delivery, reduce rework and enhance efficiency.

► BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT EXPERIENCE – with more than 15 years of experience in technical sales and marketing of engineered solutions.

Differences between the About section and functional résumé area

1. Your LinkedIn About section is more than a Summary. There’s probably a good reason why LinkedIn went from calling this section Summary to About and most likely it’s because your About section can/should include elements of a typical résumé Summary and functional area.

2. No introductory paragraphs. Your résumé should not include the opening two paragraphs of your LinkedIn’s About section. There’s no need, or space, to explain the challenges of your industry, your passion, or a mission statement, etc.

Golden rules: résumé Summary is three or four lines at most, must grab the reader’s attention, and should include an accomplishment or two in order to show value.

3. Your résumé’s functional area won’t be as long.  The example above nearly reaches the 2,000 character limit. But the idea is the same. Under each area of expertise, you explain why they’re your strength in three or four lines.

The main reason why the About section is long is because your profile is a static document and therefore must cover more ground containing more information.

4. Tailor your resume’s functional area. Another difference is that your résumé will be tailored to each employer’s needs. Perhaps the employer is most interested in Team Building, Customer Relations, and Business Development. You simply highlight these areas on your résumé.


linkedin-alone

The Experience section as the chronological résumé

Now let’s see how my client’s Experience section clearly shows what he’s accomplished. (Again, this is a partial sample.)

A nice touch is how he breaks down his accomplishments by types, e.g., SALES GROWTH, PROFITABILITY, ON-TIME DELIVERY…

Led the transformation of this start-up, engineering research firm into a mature, product-based manufacturing business; sold the company; then helped to integrate it with a new parent company.

► SALES GROWTH – Increased product sales by 800%; now 87% of MSI’s total business.

► PROFITABILITY – Improved key production lines 30% by investing in Lean / Six Sigma / Kaizen initiatives.

► ON-TIME DELIVERY – Consistently achieved delivery commitments through tight-knit production teams, centralized reporting, targeted cross-training, and earned-value project tracking.

► HARVEST & DIVESTMENT – Marketed and sold the business. Leadership role in all stages of the sale process: selecting investment banker, identifying potential acquirers, preparing marketing materials, and communicating with prospective buyers.

► BUSINESS INTEGRATION – Successfully integrated MSI with new parent company. Retained customers while relocating and re-starting core manufacturing operations on the west coast.

Differences between the LinkedIn About section and Résumé Experience section

1. The value is clear. This position’s highlights clearly show value, as it is broken down into accomplishment types, e.g., SALES GROWTH, PROFITABILITY, ON-TIME DELIVERY…More so, the all-caps format makes it easy for the reader to see the accomplishment types my client delivers.

There really isn’t a distinguishable difference between the LinkedIn About section and résumé Experience section. Both should highlight accomplishments.

2. The length of my client’s Experience section for this job alone brings his combination résumé to two pages. He has two other roles as director of business development and principal engineer. In all, his combination résumé could be three-pages long, which is acceptable within a 10-15 work history.

3. The résumé Experience section must be tailored. It must be a reflection of what each individual employer requires. Your LinkedIn profile Experience section is static, like most other sections, so it has to cover a large swatch of value statements. Choose the ones that are of most importance to the employer.


If you need to revert from a chronological to a combination résumé, it would be a good move. Think about how your LinkedIn profile’s About and Experience sections are an example of how the combination résumé should be crafted.

Is the résumé Summary statement dead? What experts say

Once a staple of the job search, the résumé Summary statement may be on its way out — or perhaps it’s already dead. There are two camps; one that believes the Summary is alive and kicking, another that feels it’s run its course.

tombsones

I’ve read many résumés that contain a Summarys that is full of fluff and, in effect, says nothing at all. I’ve spoken to many recruiters and hiring managers who have told me they don’t even read Summaries when they come across them.

Recently, I posed a question about résumé Summaries to my LinkedIn followers—and I received a lot of responses.

Executive resume writer Adrienne Tom is one of the respondents—the others are listed below. Adrienne said she often considers leaving the Summaries off the résumés she writes.

“I think a lot of professionals feel compelled to share a Summary which then comes out forced, with generic word choices,” Tom wrote. “Instead, a better strategy is to focus on value points. Share with the reader the ‘hows and whys’ (provide the proof), and word selection won’t matter as much.”

So, is the Summary just wasted real estate now? Once a vital résumé component, I fear is gradually losing the foothold it once held. It may soon be excluded from résumés altogether, simply because the people who read résumés don’t have the time for Summaries.

I hope I’m wrong, because I do think Summaries can be quite powerful. Consider this summary statement:

Information Systems Department Director specializing in new project planning and achieving business objectives. Budget hundreds of thousands of dollars in project resources. Lead efforts that consistently generate sales exceeding $15K in a competitive pharmaceutical market.

Does this Summary say enough? It illustrates the candidate’s value with quantified results and should generate interest in the reader. It’s brief, and there’s no fluff.

But not all of my esteemed colleagues agree that Summaries add value. As mentioned above, I recently asked professional résumé writers and recruiters whether they thought the Summary is dead. Here’s what a few of them wrote:

“I have my candidates compose what I like to call a ‘career highlights’ section: just a bullet-pointed section of some actual career accomplishments. It catches the potential employer’s attention immediately. I feel objectives/summaries are just antiquated in a job market that is currently flooded with candidates.” — Adrienne Roberts, Branch Manager, Robert Half

“Are they on their way out? No — they have already left. Most hiring professionals will tell you that the summary, at least in the US, is an ignored piece of fluff, better left off to make room for the information they need/want to know.” — Sarah Douglas, G.C.D.F

“I feel that summary statements are still an essential component of a résumé. However, I am looking for qualifications and hard data, not fluff about perceived skills. If you can quickly read about relevant experience, results achieved, number of direct reports, and so on, then the soft skills can be explored further in the interview.” — Judy Hojel, CEO, People and Performance Training Pty, LTD.

“No, a well-written summary statement is a must on any resume. It brings together the many details of your achievements and education to focus the employer on exactly how you fit the job position. It gives one a big-picture view, with the detail to follow [in the rest of the resume].” —  Jay Barrett, Human Resources Executive

“A poorly written, anemic summary section (especially one that is basically just a string of keywords) does nothing to differentiate the job seeker. Such prime real estate gives a candidate the opportunity to concisely lay out their good-fit qualities, qualifications, and ability to meet specific needs of that specific employer. A well-written, targeted summary will stand on its own on the résumé. As well, it piques interest, and compels the reader to continue reading down the page.” — Meg Guiseppi, Executive Resume Master

As you can see, opinions vary on whether the summary statement is on its way out. I, for one, hope it remains a vital resume component — but I also agree with Adrienne Tom. The summary must provide proof of one’s greatness. Otherwise, there’s no use in having one.

What do you think? I’d love to read your comments.

This post originally appeared in Recruiter.com.

Photo: Flickr, aninwardspiral