A section that summarizes your key attributes is an important opening section of a resume. When employers receive upwards of 100 resumes per day for an advertised position, they do not have much time to devote to each one. Rather than just informing an employer about your history, a brief, well-written summary will highlight your relevant strengths, grab the employer’s attention, and make him or her want to continue reading the rest of your resume in more detail. The summary can bring attention to skills that are most relevant to the position you are seeking, especially if they are not reflected by your most recent position. The information contained in the top third of your resume is what will attract the most attention. For this reason, a summary is a great way to ensure that the top third represents everything you want employers to know about you.
A summary also will allow you to condense lengthy experience and save employers from having to weed through extensive job descriptions. If you can encapsulate your experience in a few brief sentences, it will take some of the guesswork out of the employer’s hands. Then once he/she has decided to consider you and not the other 99 candidates, he/she can go back and read you job descriptions in more detail.
Additionally, if you have a few large, notable accomplishments, why not put them at the very top of your resume? If you won a notable award, went to a great law school, graduated at the top of your class, worked at a prestigious law firm, or won an impressive case, you can increase the prominence of these achievements by listing them in the summary section. Starting your resume with “President of the Harvard Law Review” is sure to get an employer’s attention, and you have not even made him or her look past the first line.
A summary can also reduce repetition in your job descriptions. If you find that several of your positions comprised virtually the same responsibilities, rather than repeat those responsibilities under each job heading, include them in a summary section. This will not only free up some space on your resume, it will bring more focus to the unique contributions you have made in each position.
If you find your resume lacking a certain “punch” or if you do not feel that your best or most relevant attributes are coming through, a summary section can enhance your product. The easier you can make it for employers to quickly see your best qualities, the better chance you have of getting an interview.