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Should I add a summary or skills to my resume?

Updated: Jun 6

The Dreaded "Additional" section


This is Part 4 of a series of posts on the basics of improving your resume.



Some people include skills sections, some include summaries, and some include volunteer work and hobbies. Others exclude all of these sections and prefer to focus on work experience. While there is no “right way” to structure a resume, including information beyond your education and work experience can help you put your best foot forward and convince an employer that you are the applicant that they should hire.


Summary (optional)

A summary should describe information not found elsewhere in your resume and is best used if you are making a major industry or role change.

1. It should describe why you are a serious candidate but should remain concise, 1-2 sentences at most.

2. Avoid cliche words, jargon, and unnecessary information in your summary, such as “Motivated professional with x years of experience.” That should be clear from the rest of your resume, so restating it in a summary may signal to an employer that you are not confident in your achievements.

3. Remember, this is not a requirement, and many applicants, especially younger ones, choose not to include a summary at all.


Here's what Nivedita put in her resume:

Skills/IT Skills (optional)

Many jobs require a particular skill set. For example, programming jobs often require knowledge of specific programming languages or experience with certain types of software. Mentioning these skills clearly on your resume informs the recruiter that you possess the necessary skills required for the job. However, including very broad or very common skills in a “Skills” section may actually demonstrate the opposite.


For example, you should not include skills like teamwork, leadership, and collaboration since all applicants are expected to possess these abilities to some extent. Similarly, Microsoft Windows, Office, Word, Excel, and PowerPoint are such common skills that including them only takes up space and signals that you may be lacking other, more distinctive skills. If you are especially proficient in these areas (e.g. Excel financial modelling, VBA, macros, etc.) then that information can be included.


Nivedita mentions skills relevant to the jobs she's applying to:


Achievements

Your entire resume is meant to be about your achievements and accomplishments. Any job-related achievements should be mentioned in the work experience section and NOT in a separate section.


Any other achievements related to your hobbies, interests, or extracurricular activities should be mentioned in those sections. In short, you should not have an “Achievements” section on your resume.


Stay tuned for our next post about additional sections.


View our other posts in this series:

1 - Improve your resume: Contact information

2 - 7 ways to improve the education section of your resume

3 - 9 tips to improve the work experience section of your resume

4 - Should I add a summary or skills to my resume?

5 - Optional sections on your resume

6 - Finishing touches on a resume


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