Your resume summary is the first impression you make on potential employers, so it's crucial to get it right
When it comes to job applications, your resume is often the first point of contact with prospective employers. It's essential to make a good impression right from the start, and that's where your resume summary comes in. Your summary is a brief statement at the top of your resume that highlights your skills, experiences, and achievements, making it a critical part of your job application.
In this article, you'll learn how to write the ultimate resume summary that will grab the attention of recruiters and hiring managers. You'll discover what makes a good summary and what to avoid, as well as how to sell yourself effectively to potential employers.
You may be wondering: what exactly is a resume summary and how do I write one? We'll answer these questions and more, including the importance of a headline and whether or not you need one. We'll also provide examples of effective summaries for various industries.
By the end of this article, you'll have a comprehensive understanding of what it takes to create a standout resume summary that will help you to land your dream job.
What is a good summary for a resume?
The purpose of a resume summary is to grab the attention of recruiters and hiring managers, quickly demonstrating how you can add value to their organization.
A good resume summary should be concise, well-written, and tailored to the job you're applying for. It should highlight your most significant accomplishments and showcase your relevant skills and experiences. By doing so, it can distinguish you from other applicants and increase your chances of landing an interview.Another important aspect of a good resume summary is to include keywords that match the job description. This helps to ensure that your resume will be found in recruiter searches when they're using applicant tracking systems.
The role of a headline in attracting potential employers
Your headline plays a crucial role in attracting potential employers. It's the first thing they will see when they look at your resume, so it needs to grab their attention and make them want to read on.
Craft a strong headline that summarizes your key skills and selling points in a few words. This should be specific to the job you're applying for, should mirror the job advert, and should quickly demonstrate your value to potential employers. Make a list of the relevant keywords from the job advert – things the new company wants you to do. Compare your expertise with those keywords to craft a headline that mirrors the title of the new role, the skills the company wants someone to have, and your own uniqueness.
Here are some tips for creating a strong headline:
Highlight your most impressive accomplishments or credentials
Keep it short and sweet – aim for no more than 10 words
Use strong action verbs to convey your skills and experiences
Examples of strong headlines include:
Award-Winning Sales Manager with a Track Record of Exceeding Targets."
Dynamic Sales Manager with a Proven Track Record in Delivering Beyond Targets
Seasoned Software Engineer with Expertise in Machine Learning
How do you write a summary?
This headline should be followed by a brief statement that provides more detail on your skills and experiences. When writing a resume summary, it's essential to be specific and quantify your achievements wherever possible. Instead of saying, "Experienced marketing professional," try saying, "Experienced marketing professional with expertise in managing successful social media campaigns, resulting in increases of up to 30% in website traffic."
This provides concrete evidence of your skills and demonstrates your value to potential employers.
Reflect on your career
When it comes to writing a strong resume summary, the first step is to engage in some self-reflection. Before putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard), take some time to think about your key skills, experiences, and achievements. This will help you to identify the most important information to include in your summary.Consider your past roles, responsibilities, and accomplishments, and think about how they relate to the job you're applying for. Ask yourself:
What have I achieved in my career?
What skills have I developed?
What makes me stand out from other applicants?
Identify your key skills
One of the most important things to include in your resume summary is your key skills. These are the abilities that set you apart from other candidates and demonstrate your value to potential employers. Begin by making a list of your top skills, and then prioritize them based on relevance to the job you're applying for.
Craft an engaging opening statement
After your headline, you should include a brief opening statement that summarizes who you are. This statement should be concise and compelling, and it should clearly communicate your unique value proposition. Here are some examples of strong opening statements:
Innovative marketing professional with over five years of experience in developing and executing successful campaigns for Fortune 500 companies
Results-driven sales executive with a proven track record of exceeding revenue targets and building strong client relationships
Skilled customer service representative with expertise in problem-solving, conflict resolution, and communication
Highlight your relevant experiences
Next, think about relevant experience that you can include in your summary. This includes any previous jobs or internships, volunteer work, or extracurricular activities that have given you valuable experience. Consider what you've learned and achieved in each role and how that relates to the job you're applying for.
You should focus on what is most relevant to the job you're applying for. Here are some examples:
Proven ability to increase sales revenue by 20% year on year
Expertise in project management and team leadership
Proficient in Adobe Creative Cloud and Microsoft 365
Confident working with a diverse range of clients and stakeholders
Keep it concise
Remember, your resume summary should be concise and to the point. Stick to the most important information, and avoid filler words or irrelevant details. A good rule of thumb is to keep your summary to 3-5 sentences.
Use action verbs
When describing your experiences and achievements, use strong action verbs to convey a sense of accomplishment and momentum. For example, instead of saying, "Responsible for managing social media accounts," say, "Successfully manages social media accounts, resulting in a 30% increase in engagement."
Quantify your achievements
Wherever possible, use numbers and statistics to quantify your achievements. This provides concrete evidence of your skills and demonstrates your value to potential employers. For example, instead of saying, "Helped to increase sales," say, "Helped to increase sales by 20% in the first year."
Tailor it to the job
Make sure your resume summary is tailored to the job you're applying for. This means highlighting the skills and experiences that are most relevant to the role. Look at the job description and identify the key requirements, and then make sure your summary addresses these points.
What is the difference between a headline and a summary for your resume?
While the terms "headline" and "summary" are often used interchangeably, there is a distinct difference between the two. Your headline is a brief and catchy phrase that appears at the top of your resume and is designed to grab the reader's attention. Your summary, on the other hand, is a short paragraph that appears below your headline and provides a snapshot of your skills, experiences, and achievements.
What should you NOT put in a resume summary?
While it's important to include key information in your resume summary, there are certain things that you should avoid. Here are some common mistakes to watch out for:
Your resume summary should focus on your professional skills and experiences, not your personal life. Avoid including personal information such as your age, marital status, or hobbies. This information is not relevant to your ability to perform the job and may actually work against you by giving the employer the wrong impression.
Unrelated skills or experiences
Make sure that the skills and experiences you include in your resume summary are relevant to the job you're applying for. Including unrelated skills or experiences can make you look unfocused or unqualified for the job. Instead, tailor your summary to the specific job requirements and highlight the skills and experiences that are most relevant.
Clichés or buzzwords
Avoid using clichés or buzzwords in your resume summary. These phrases are overused and don't really say anything meaningful about your skills or experiences. Instead, use specific examples and action verbs to demonstrate your abilities. Examples of cliches include “hardworking,” “works well in a team and independently,” and “enthusiastic.”
Too much detail
Your resume summary should be brief and to the point. Avoid including too much detail or getting bogged down in specifics. Save the details for your work experience section and focus on highlighting your most important attributes in the summary.
Do you need a summary on your resume?
The short answer is YES! You need a summary on your resume. There are very few instances when a resume summary would be a disservice to your job search.
Here are some pros and cons to consider:
A resume summary can quickly and effectively communicate your skills and experiences to potential employers. It can help you to stand out from other applicants and give the employer a good idea of what you can bring to the job.
It can be especially useful if you're changing careers or industries and need to highlight transferable skills or relevant experiences that may not be immediately obvious from your work history.
A well-written summary can also help you to tailor your resume to the specific job you're applying for, making it more likely that you will get noticed and called for an interview.
A poorly written or generic resume summary can actually hurt your chances of getting hired. If your summary doesn't effectively communicate your skills or experiences, it can give the employer the wrong impression or make you seem unqualified for the job.
Some employers, though the number is virtually nil, may prefer to see a more traditional resume format that focuses on work experience and education. In these cases, a summary may not be necessary or may be viewed as unnecessary fluff.
It takes time and skill to create the perfect resume summary - but if you're finding it difficult, you can always call in the professionals!
How do you write a resume summary about yourself?
As examples are often helpful, here are 10 resume summary examples, broken down by industry, along with a brief explanation of why each summary works well. Below you'll find summaries for:
Customer Service Representative
Human Resources Manager
And, finally, one for someone who has no career experience
1. Customer Service Representative resume summary
"Highly motivated Customer Service Representative with 5 years of experience in delivering service excellence. Skilled in conflict resolution and problem-solving, resulting in a 95% customer satisfaction rate. Proven ability to multitask in fast-paced environments while maintaining accuracy and attention to detail."
Why it works: This summary highlights the candidate's experience and skills while also showcasing their achievements in ensuring customer satisfaction. It mentions how much experience they have and calls out a measurable achievement.
2. Sales Representative resume summary
"Dynamic Sales Representative with a track record of exceeding sales quotas by 20%+. Proficient in consultative sales techniques and relationship building. Exceptional communication and negotiation skills with the ability to close deals."
Why it works: This summary provides a quantifiable achievement to show the candidate's success in their previous sales roles while also highlighting their key skills in relationship building and communication.
3. Marketing Manager resume summary
"Strategic Marketing Manager with 7+ years of experience in developing and executing successful marketing campaigns across multiple channels. Skilled in market research and analysis, campaign optimization, and team leadership. Proven track record of driving revenue growth and increasing brand awareness."
Why it works: This summary emphasizes the candidate's experience and leadership skills while also showcasing their ability to drive results through successful marketing campaigns. The candidate has also demonstrated their ability to grow revenues and raise brand awareness.
4. Project Manager resume summary
"Accomplished Project Manager, with confidence in leading cross-functional teams and managing project timelines, budgets, and resources. Strong communication and collaboration skills, with the ability to build relationships with stakeholders. Proven track record of delivering projects on time and within budget."
Why it works: This summary highlights the candidate's extensive project management experience and emphasizes their ability to successfully deliver projects while working with multiple stakeholders.
5. Software Developer resume summary
"Innovative Software Developer with 5+ years of experience in designing, developing, and implementing complex software applications. Skilled in programming languages including Java, Python, and C++. Demonstrated ability to work collaboratively in Agile environments to deliver high-quality code on time."
Why it works: This job seeker has taken the time to highlight some of the technical skills they possess, while emphasizing their ability to work in Agile environments. They also call attention to the fact that they can take a software development project from design to implementation.
6. Human Resources Manager resume summary
"Experienced Human Resources Manager specializing in talent acquisition, employee relations, and performance management. Skilled in developing and implementing HR policies and procedures that align with business objectives and values. Proven track record of building and managing high-performing teams."
Why it works: This summary highlights the candidate's experience in various HR functions and emphasizes their ability to build and manage teams. It also shows that they can perform managerial functions like developing policies and procedures.
7. Graphic Designer resume summary
"Creative Graphic Designer with particular expertise in developing and executing visually stunning designs for print and digital media. Proficient in Adobe Creative Cloud, with a focus on typography and layout. Strong communication and collaboration skills, with the ability to work on multiple projects simultaneously."
Why it works: This summary works well because it shows showcases their technical skills and experience while also emphasizing creativity and an ability to work collaboratively.
8. Registered Nurse resume summary
"Compassionate Registered Nurse with over 7 years' experience in providing high-quality patient care. Skilled in patient assessment, medication administration, and treatment plan development. Strong communication and interpersonal skills with the ability to build rapport with patients and their families."
Why it works: This summary emphasizes the candidate's clinical and patient care experience and highlights their key nursing and interpersonal skills.
9. Financial Analyst resume summary
“Detail-oriented Financial Analyst with a strong background in financial modeling, data analysis, and forecasting. Combines advanced Excel skills with the ability to create and manage financial reports. Able to work collaboratively with cross-functional teams.”
Why it works: This summary showcases the applicant's specific skills and experience in financial analysis and also highlights their proficiency in Excel, a crucial tool for the role.
10. Resume summary for someone with no experience
“Dynamic recent Marketing graduate, seeking an entry-level position to kickstart a career in the field. Demonstrated strong leadership and teamwork skills gained through involvement in various extracurricular activities, including volunteering at local events and leading group projects. Proficient in Microsoft 365 and Adobe Creative Cloud. Passionate about using marketing strategies to create engaging content and drive brand awareness.”
Why it works: This summary works because it highlights the candidate's relevant hard and soft skills and qualifications, even though they don't have direct career experience. The use of action words such as "demonstrated" and "proficient" shows the candidate's confidence in their abilities, which can be attractive to potential employers, showcasing the candidate's potential for success in an entry-level marketing role.
A well-written resume summary can make a significant impact on a job application. A good summary should highlight relevant skills and experiences, use clear and concise language, and avoid unnecessary information. Remember to tailor your summary to the job you're applying for, and consider including a headline to further capture the attention of potential employers.
We know it can be difficult to condense a whole career full of skills and achievements into a paragraph of only a few sentences. If you're unsure about the document you've crafted, why not send it for a free resume review by our team of expert resume writers?