Should a resume include a "summary" section?

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I am a senior Civil Engineering student in my last study semester and I will begin to send out my resume in hopes of landing a job.

I was wondering, is a "Professional Summary" section a standard practice for engineers looking for a job?

Thank you in advance.
 

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  • #2
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For a student I don't think it makes any sense.

Your "Professional Summary" section will, at best, repeat the information described in your internship lower on the page.

Even for mid-level professionals I don't love them.

They are useful for summarizing decades of experience that includes career changes etc.
 
  • #3
phyzguy
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I think so. It should be a brief statement (one sentence?) that tells who you are and what you are looking for. I would write something like:

"Experienced Civil Engineer with broad skill base searching for a management position in an established company."

or:

"Recent college graduate in Civil Engineering searching for an entry level position."

You get the idea. Others may have different ideas.
 
  • #4
symbolipoint
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I think so. It should be a brief statement (one sentence?) that tells who you are and what you are looking for. I would write something like:

"Experienced Civil Engineer with broad skill base searching for a management position in an established company."

or:

"Recent college graduate in Civil Engineering searching for an entry level position."

You get the idea. Others may have different ideas.
Those would be "objectives". You could use something like that; which is your choice. Better would be to make those "objectives" a little more specific. An objective can be one or two words; or it can be a short precise description of skills, knowledge, and what kind of job position is wanted.
 
  • #5
Dr Transport
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A recently graduated student has nothing to summarize, 20 years from now when your resume is 3 pages or more, a summary of qualifications would be in order.
 
  • #6
CrysPhys
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I agree with others. Unless there is something atypical that is not readily apparent from the reverse-chronological-order resume, a newbie senior should not need a "Professional Summary". For more experienced candidates, such a summary is highly useful to summarize your skills and experiences functionally; especially if you've changed fields several times, but are open to returning to a previous field (which may be buried towards the end of the reverse-chronological-order resume).
 
  • #7
phyzguy
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I think you guys may over-estimate how much time a typical hiring manager spends on your resume. A few seconds is about what I expect. You need a sentence that tells them quickly what they need to know.
 
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  • #8
CrysPhys
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I think you guys may over-estimate how much time a typical hiring manager spends on your resume. A few seconds is about what I expect. You need a sentence that tells them quickly what they need to know.
I think so. It should be a brief statement (one sentence?) that tells who you are and what you are looking for. I would write something like:

"Experienced Civil Engineer with broad skill base searching for a management position in an established company."

or:

"Recent college graduate in Civil Engineering searching for an entry level position."

You get the idea. Others may have different ideas.
Those would be "objectives". You could use something like that; which is your choice. Better would be to make those "objectives" a little more specific. An objective can be one or two words; or it can be a short precise description of skills, knowledge, and what kind of job position is wanted.
I have been on the reviewing side of resumes; and I know what I'm looking for, and how much time I'm willing to spend.

Your response is different from others here because you consider a one-liner ("Recent college graduate in Civil Engineering searching for an entry level position.") to be a proper entry under a highlighted category with the title "Professional Summary". I don't; I think it would be ludicrous, and give me a negative first impression. It doesn't provide me with any additional useful info that a quick glance at the resume will tell. For a new grad, "Education" listing degrees is typically at the top; so it's apparent that he's a recent grad in Civil Engineering. And what type of position would he be looking for? A position that requires a PE license and a minimum of 15 yrs field experience?

For a new grad, a "Professional Summary" can have value, in some instances; in particular, if the candidate's trajectory doesn't follow the standard high-school/college/employment path. This would include, e.g., people with military service (and technical training) and people who completed an undergrad degree, worked for many years, dropped out of the workplace to raise a family, and then returned to college for a second degree. Depending on the specific case, however, the Cover Letter might be a more appropriate place to address such anomalies.
 
  • #9
jim hardy
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A technical resume is half technical and half psychological.
It needs something to make it stand out; to catch somebody's interest .
And to that end for a new graduate should be just one page.

I think a one liner describing some thing you've done , and not necessarily academically, that's related to your field and demonstrates interest and ability is invaluable.
Example -
when my son graduated and hit the Mechanical Engineering job market, we added to his resume the phrase "Shade Tree Mechanic ".
A personnel type called him in for an interview - the phrase had caught somebody's attention.
One of the engineers who interviewed him asked "So tell me about your most recent shade tree repair job?" .
Tom replied:
"Well, the transmission in my pickup truck suffered a lubrication related catastrophic failure.
I got a junkyard transmission for parts and swapped a 'brand new secondhand' set of gears into mine.
I learned about synchronizers and cluster gears and countershafts.
My Dad calls that a 'Kerosene Overhaul' ...."

He got the job.

Industry needs people who can do things.
So if you have a picture of a treehouse you built as a kid, attach it.

And summarize who you are in one line right up top - eg
"a practical minded hands-on engineering graduate who applies his basics to every task at hand" ,
or "an academic minded engineering graduate who excels at finite element analysis and computer simulation" ,
or whatever course you really loved and got A's in.
That way the personnel reviewer knows whether to send it to his design, maintenance, or marketing department.

If you feel you have something worthy of an essay, attach it as a second page .
But your audience for that is whoever the personnel guy sends it to.
You want to impress the personnel guy with your conciseness. He has a hundred resumes to go through and will appreciate your brevity.

That's my two cents -

old jim
 
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  • #10
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I think you guys may over-estimate how much time a typical hiring manager spends on your resume.
No way, I know exactly how little time I spend reading resumes.

And for entry level type folks, the summary has never said anything interesting.
 
  • #11
CrysPhys
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Industry needs people who can do things.
So if you have a picture of a treehouse you built as a kid, attach it.
If I were the reviewer, that resume would be dumped in the trash right quick.
 
  • #12
jim hardy
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If I were the reviewer, that resume would be dumped in the trash right quick.
What kind of Civil Engineers does your company seek ?
 
  • #13
symbolipoint
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At times when I was more active in job-seeking, I had most of my interviews using a brief objective at top of one or two words, or a brief "objective" description. That meant that the "objective", as long as it was very short and understandable, DID work.
 
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  • #14
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Some suggested “Objectives” for entry level folk’s resumes:

• To demonstrate how being a vintner is completely unlike being a DJ.
• To find the dead Avengers in my cubicle.
• To do your every bidding, so long as it’s work related and seems reasonable given the circumstances.
• To lose my freshman fifteen lifting hard problems.

A suggested “Objectives” to avoid:
• Getting a job at your company doing the thing you advertised.
 
  • #15
CrysPhys
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What kind of Civil Engineers does your company seek ?
Interviewer: “Please describe a project that best represents your interests and accomplishments in construction.”

Candidate A: “During my junior year, I was a member of my college’s interdisciplinary team that entered a design for the Build for X national competition. The goal was to design a low-cost, standalone housing module, suitable for a family of four, that could be completed for less than $Y. It includes it’s own power source and fresh-water supply. We won first prize. Ten of our modules have been installed in Central America.”

Candidate B: “Since I was a freshman in high school, I’ve volunteered for a non-profit organization that builds homes for families that lost everything in natural disasters. When I first started, I was a general-purpose go-fer and helper. Over the years, skilled tradesmen taught me a variety of skills in carpentry, plumbing, electrical, and masonry. Over the last two years, I’ve also taken on CAD work and project-management responsibilities.”

Candidate C: “Here’s a picture of a treehouse mommy and me built when I was 8.”

One candidate gets cut from the next round. Gee, really difficult decision.
 
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  • #16
CWatters
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Last time I did any recruiting we had lots of CV from very well qualified people via agencies. Many times it was impossible to work out what the person wanted to do. Were they looking for another programming job or were they looking to move into project management. Without a summary or covering letter it was impossible to tell.
 
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  • #17
CrysPhys
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At times when I was more active in job-seeking, I had most of my interviews using a brief objective at top of one or two words, or a brief "objective" description. That meant that the "objective", as long as it was very short and understandable, DID work.
That's one conclusion. An alternative one is that it didn't do anything positive; but at least it did no harm. But again, as you yourself pointed out, there's a distinction between an "Objective" and a "Professional Summary".
 
  • #18
CrysPhys
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Last time I did any recruiting we had lots of CV from very well qualified people via agencies. Many times it was impossible to work out what the person wanted to do. Were they looking for another programming job or were they looking to move into project management. Without a summary or covering letter it was impossible to tell.
Then your agencies were not doing a good job screening candidates. If your company is specifically looking for an experienced programmer that wishes to continue in programming, of if your company is specifically looking for an experienced programmer who wants to transition to project management, good recruiters should clear that up with potential candidates [who can tailor their cover letter or resume as needed] before they forward resumes to you.
 
  • #19
symbolipoint
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That's one conclusion. An alternative one is that it didn't do anything positive; but at least it did no harm. But again, as you yourself pointed out, there's a distinction between an "Objective" and a "Professional Summary".
Sure. When one writes either of such on the resume, it needs to be a reliable description or statement, and easy to understand.
 
  • #20
jim hardy
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One candidate gets cut from the next round. Gee, really difficult decision.
I thought we were talking about the resume not the interview.

A touch of creativity sets a resume apart increasing the chances of an interview.

Candidate C would caption his picture with " Have been interested in structural design since chidhood. "

Interviewer: "So what have you built since the treehouse?"
Interviewee: " (what you said) "

Stuffed shirts in an organization are generally dead wood . Read your Parkinson.
 
  • #21
CrysPhys
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I thought we were talking about the resume not the interview.

A touch of creativity sets a resume apart increasing the chances of an interview.

Candidate C would caption his picture with " Have been interested in structural design since chidhood. "

Interviewer: "So what have you built since the treehouse?"
Interviewee: " (what you said) "

Stuffed shirts in an organization are generally dead wood . Read your Parkinson.
OK, regardless of resume or interview, regardless of specific field, regardless of specific job post ... if the candidate is a college senior, and he has to reach back to elementary school for an example of an accomplishment to highlight, he's not a contender in my book.
 
  • #22
jim hardy
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Every personnel department interviewer i ever met was half psychologist.
I trust they are trained to weed out the overly insecure and the narcissistic.
How you do that from what they write i'm not sure.

I always asked the young prospective engineers that personnel had sent to us about their hobbies , their car, whether they'd enjoyed their differential equations and thermodynamics courses, what books they'd read and to what magazines they subscribe, etc.
I was trying to judge whether they'd take an interest in the machinery of my power plant.

I needed people who were open and direct in personality who could relate to and work with craft people.
I needed people with innate curiosity who liked machinery .
That they'd got a degree already proved they were capable of academic accomplishment. I wanted to know about their practical side.

So - if a reference to childhood accomplishments makes you recoil,
then you and i are very different
because to me, such a reference tells me the prospect knows how to start a conversation with somebody who may not be at all technical.
An interview is almost like public speaking ,
and Carnegie says "Always start your talk with an anecdote from your own experience". Psychologically that says "I invite you to get to know me."

It may be good that you posted your opinion if it helps some kids get past the initial screening.
But as the end user of personnel's selections i want to know "from whence they came".

old jim
 
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  • #23
CrysPhys
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It may be good that you posted your opinion if it helps some kids get past the initial screening.
But as the end user of personnel's selections i want to know "from whence they came".
The interesting outcome will be how many college seniors reading this thread and heeding your advice will be writing home to mommy and daddy to sift through albums and shoeboxes to find the perfect " Aww ... ain't I cute?" kiddie shots to attach to their resumes.
 
  • #24
jim hardy
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The interesting outcome will be how many college seniors reading this thread and heeding your advice will be writing home to mommy and daddy to sift through albums and shoeboxes to find the perfect " Aww ... ain't I cute?" kiddie shots to attach to their resumes.
Maybe some will come back and tell us how it worked out.
 
  • #25
symbolipoint
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The interesting outcome will be how many college seniors reading this thread and heeding your advice will be writing home to mommy and daddy to sift through albums and shoeboxes to find the perfect " Aww ... ain't I cute?" kiddie shots to attach to their resumes.
Do not worry. They will not be. Or, MOST OF THEM will not be.
 
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