Professional development and training blog of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA)
June 18, 2010

Resume and Career Advice with a Background Summary

Grab the Attention of Potential Employers With a Background Summary

The first two sentences of your resume signal to employers whether or not you are right for the job. Employers no longer want to know your “career objective.” Instead, employers want to see a two-sentence background summary. If done properly, the remainder of your resume will be read by potential employers. Do it wrong, and you’ll place yourself out of the running. To help you create a succinct background summary, here are two suggestions from recruitment experts.

George Jamison of Spencer Stuart states that the three most important attributes employers look for in management candidates are: strong hands-on skills, strategic thinking and leadership ability.

Dennis Spring of Spring Associates recommends that the two-sentence background summary should include the following:

  • A candidate’s most prominent PR skills (i.e., writing, strategy, media relations).
  • Niche specialty/categories (i.e., high-tech, consumer products, B2B)
  • Industries they specialize in (i.e., health care, aeronautics, banking).

The background summary should not include any mention of personal attributes (i.e., persistent, collegial, conscientious). Save the personal accolades for the interview.

By Richard Spector, manager,  Jobcenter and Client Services, Public Relations Society of America (PRSA).

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