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The Headless Resume

In my business, I naturally see a lot of resumes, written by amateurs and other professionals. Lately I’ve seen a rash of resumes that seem to have lost their minds. Is your resume “headless?” If your resume reads something like this, you may be missing a critical section.

JOHN T. FRUGALBERRY (with that dreaded middle initial, no less) 
1122 Boogie Woogie Avenue, 
Middletown, CA 94000 
frugal@zippynet.net 
(714) 111-1112 

WORK HISTORY

XYZ Company, Middletown, CA 
1997-Present 
Lead Project Engineer

This is what I do. Sometimes I also get asked to do that and the other thing. One time, I got an award for doing this and that with a high degree of accuracy.

ABC Company, 
San Jose, CA 
1990-1997 
Engineer

When I worked here, I did a little of this and a little of that. I got promoted a few times, and then I got recruited away.

EDUCATION

B.S., Widget Engineering, Summa Cum Laude, 1990 
Ivy League University, San Francisco, CA

If the example above looks like your resume, you should know that you’ve missed out on an excellent opportunity to sell yourself. Why? The recruiter reading this resume must go through the entire document to form a mental picture of you. You know, who you are, what you want to do with your career, whether or not you’ll be worth interviewing. Will she/he form an accurate picture?

Creating an opening paragraph or bullet list with the heading “Profile” or “Summary of Qualifications” is an excellent opportunity to present your reader with a thumbnail sketch of who you are, what you’re doing with your career, and what your most marketable attributes are.

For those of you who consider this type of information “fluff” or “b.s.,” I respectfully beg to differ. Surely, if that’s the kind of information you’ve seen in summary statements, then they were misused, like the much maligned objective statement that says “a challenging career-oriented position using my education and experience, blah, blah, blah.”

The Profile or Highlights Section is the place where you can sum up all the great information on the resume, add relevant information that just doesn’t have any other place to go on the resume, and create an impression of you as a living, breathing, unique individual. It doesn’t have to be fluff or flowery, meaningless information. If it’s done properly, it can add “sizzle” to the steak when being read by a human being, and it contains relevant key words that will boost the number of hits your resume gets in a database search. Most or all of what is stated up front is backed up by the remainder of the resume. For those of you resume buffs out there, no, this isn’t a functional resume per se. Observe:

JANET PROMOTABLE 

PROFILE

Telecommunications Project Manager with 10+ years of rapid advancement with Fortune 100 companies.

Consultative and clear communication style, resulting in the development of innovative business solutions that exceed client expectations. Articulate and persuasive presentation skills.

Outstanding knowledge of voice, data, and networking products; demonstrated ability to coordinate contributions from multi-disciplinary team members. Dedicated to maintaining cutting-edge technical skills.

Consistently recognized by managers, clients, vendors, and colleagues for ability to orchestrate all details of critical projects with a high degree of service, within tight deadlines and budgets.

Then, of course, the rest of Janet’s resume covers the detail-rich, quantifiable accomplishments in each position that back up these statements. By introducing her in this way, however, we don’t have to count on the recruiter’s ability to sum her up accurately.

So if your resume is not getting you the attention you deserve sans profile, perhaps now would be the time to sum yourself up.