How To Include Professional Highlights on Your Resume (Plus Tips)
Creating an effective resume is often one of the most important parts of the application process. When creating a resume, it's often beneficial to create a document that effectively communicates your strengths as well as your unique experiences and accomplishments. It may be helpful to add a professional highlights section to showcase your best accomplishments. In this article, we explore what resume highlights are, describe why they're important, explain how to format highlights on a resume and provide examples.
What are professional highlights?
Professional highlights are the parts of your work experience that exemplify your ability to perform certain jobs. They can include accomplishments, education, awards and recognition that you have received. Many individuals include these highlights in a distinct section at the top of their resumes, called a highlights section or a resume summary.
Why should you include professional highlights on your resume?
Here are some reasons why you should include professional highlights on your resume:
Invites the hiring manager to continue reading your resume: Including a highlights section can showcase your most important strengths and achievements. This can make your resume more attractive to recruiters and may encourage them to keep reading.
Ensures that employers see your strengths: A highlights section can give hiring managers the opportunity to view the most important part of your resume quickly. This ensures that they can learn whether you might be a good fit for the job, even if they skim the rest of the resume.
Summarizes lengthy work histories: Condensing your highlights into a brief section can often be beneficial if you have a lot of work experience that hiring managers may not read.
Targets employer requirements: A resume summary often uses concise phrases or a bulleted list to describe strengths and accomplishments. This can give you a chance to use specific keywords that target the employer's priorities.
How to include a professional highlights section on your resume
Consider these steps to create a professional highlights section on a resume:
1. Understand the position
Before writing a highlights section, it's often helpful to review the position you're applying for to ensure that you understand its requirements. This can give you a better idea of what your potential employer might be looking for so you can include those elements in your highlights. Make a note of the duties, educational requirements and qualifications listed. You can also look up the company to learn about their organizational culture and priorities.
If you know any employees at the company, ask for professional highlights suggestions. They may be able to give you a clearer idea of what their company prioritizes in their hiring processes.
2. Review your history
After determining what your potential employer might want to see on your resume, you can review your own background to see how well you fulfill those requirements. You can start with your educational history and consider how it might apply to the job. It's a good idea to list your education in your highlights if the employer lists specific education in their posting.
You can also review your work history, including your job titles and the specific duties you had. Try to find the parts of your work history that are closest to the position's duties. If you held leadership positions, you can also consider including them. Aside from work experience, it may be helpful to describe any special recognition or awards you may have received that demonstrate your professional capabilities.
3. Choose highlights
Once you finish reviewing your history, make a list of the highlights you chose. Consider arranging them in order from the most to least important to prioritize your highlights section. Next, consider the language the company uses to describe the role and identify important keywords. This can help you decide how to phrase your highlights section to appeal to the hiring manager.
After identifying keywords, rephrase your highlights so that they are concise and use similar language to the job posting. Since the highlights section is usually brief, try to determine how much space your highlights might take up on your resume. If it takes up more than a few lines, it might be helpful to remove some items from your list.
4. Select an effective format
Once you determine what items to include in your highlights section, you can begin choosing how to format them on your resume. Many people format their highlights as a short bulleted list, while others write a short paragraph. If you use a bulleted list, consider writing a short introductory sentence before the list to introduce yourself and give context.
If you choose to use a paragraph format, you can introduce yourself briefly in the first sentence. Then describe your accomplishments concisely. Since the goal of a highlights section is to provide easily accessible information, consider keeping your paragraph to three or four sentences.
5. Proofread your highlights section
After arranging and formatting your highlights section, proofread it. Look for any spelling or grammatical errors using a spell checking or grammar aid program on your computer. After making changes, read your highlights section aloud to ensure that it is clear and understandable. These steps can ensure that your resume appears professional and emphasizes your professional strengths.
What are some examples of professional highlights?
These are some examples of professional highlights that you might include in a resume highlights section:
Soft skills can be an important part of your expertise and often apply to a variety of job positions. They may be especially useful if you are an entry-level candidate with little work experience. These are some examples of soft skills that you might include in your highlights section:
Collaboration or teamwork
Including hard skills in a highlight section can help demonstrate your qualifications for a certain position. These skills are often especially important for candidates seeking a mid-level or senior position. When choosing hard skills, try to focus on the requirements of the job and list the skills that are most applicable. These are some examples of hard skills that you might include in a resume summary:
Data entry and analysis
Work experience is often one of the most important elements professional highlights. Relevant work experience can demonstrate that you have a proven ability to perform the tasks that the job requires. When selecting previous jobs to highlight, consider focusing on those that are closest to the job. You can also include a brief description of the tasks you performed in the role to help you show expertise. These are some examples of how different professionals might list their work experience:
Restaurant management professional with five years of leadership experience in fine dining establishments. Primary tasks included overseeing a staff of up to 50 employees, ensuring customer satisfaction and developing seasonal menus.
Social studies teacher with10 years of experience teaching grades 3-5.
Human resources manager at Thor Solutions for six years. Responsibilities included providing payroll and benefits management for 55-62 employees, developing automated training and onboarding programs and creating retention strategies that improved employee satisfaction and lowered turnover.
Special achievements and awards
In addition to skills and work experience, you can include any special recognition or awards that you have received, such as:
Recognition or awards from previous employers
Teaching or presentation experience at professional seminars or training courses
Awards from professional associations or trade-based organizations
Recognition given to your former employers
Tips for including a highlights section
Consider these tips when writing a highlights section for your resume:
Determine whether professional highlights are important for you
It may be helpful to determine whether a highlights section is appropriate for your resume. If you're an entry-level candidate with little professional experience and a short resume, you might consider including a short list of skills instead of a full highlight section. If you're an experienced professional, it may be beneficial to include a highlight section that condenses your experience into a short paragraph for hiring managers.
Customize each highlight section to the employer
Try modifying your highlights to better cater to each employer's needs. Consider researching potential employers and determining their goals and priorities. You can use this information to rewrite your highlights to reflect each company's needs and values.
Connect your highlights to the rest of the resume
Connecting your highlights with the rest of your resume can help give you extra credibility and validate your expertise. If you list a hard or soft skill in your highlights, consider explaining how you have demonstrated it in the body of your resume. You can also include extra information about your work experience and previous duties in your work history.
Examples of highlight sections
These are two examples of highlight sections that use a paragraph format and a bulleted list format:
Here is an example of a resume highlights section for a chef in paragraph format:
Head chef with 15 years of experience of leadership in fine dining environments. Developed menus and directed kitchen staff in four award-winning restaurants. Restaurant awards include a two-star Michelin rating and two four-star ratings from Forbes Travel Guide. Graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education and holder of a Certified Master Chef certification from the American Culinary Federation.
Bulleted list format
This is an example of how a marketing professional might write a highlights section in a bulleted list format:
Marketing professional with five years of experience in traditional and digital marketing techniques. Accomplishments include:
Decreasing customer acquisition cost by 50%
Implementing e-commerce automation strategies that improved cart completion and increased average order value
Creating successful social media campaigns that raised revenue from advertising by 25%
Leading a successful and diverse team of 15 marketing professionals
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