Introduction to resume summaries
Hiring managers look at resumes for an average of 6 seconds. An average of a few seconds implies that most resumes are just being glanced at.
The top of your resume is typically the first place that resume reviewers look. And the first impression matters a lot. That's why your resume header can have the most influence on whether your resume lasts longer than just a glance.
Resume reviewers need a strong nudge to continue looking at the rest of your resume. When written correctly, a professional resume summary is the fastest way to deliver the best pitch about your candidacy.
There are various ways to phrase your resume summary to best position yourself for the job, depending on your level of experience.
But what exactly is the best way to phrase your resume summary?
In this guide we’ll cover:
- What is a resume summary and when to use one
- How to write a killer resume summary
- The difference between a resume summary and a resume objective
- Common mistakes when writing a resume summary
- 10+ Examples of resume summaries
What is a resume summary?
A resume summary is a concise set of statements at the top of your resume that highlights your qualifications, skills, and experience relevant to the job opening. This section is also referred as:
- Resume profile
- Personal statement
- Professional summary
- Summary of experience
- Summary of qualifications
Resume summaries go underneath your contact information, making it the second most important section on your resume if you use one. This section is almost always mandatory.
Resume summaries are perfect for candidates that have relevant work experience and skills to the job description.
A great resume summary is a concise set of sentences that include:
- Number of years of relevant work experience
- The profession that you’re in
- Your top achievement or accomplishment
- Your best skills that demonstrate your ability to perform well
- Required licenses or certifications
- The exact position you’re applying to
Here's an example of a resume with a strong summary
How do you write an effective resume summary?
Now that you know what you’re trying to say in your resume header, let’s dive into the qualities of a strong resume summary that make your resume stand out.
Make the Resume Summary Relevant to the Job
Your resume summary can only stand out if it includes experience, skills, and achievements that are relevant to the job opening.
Resume summaries that stand out the most are tailored to the job description. It’s good practice to extract the top keywords from the job description and put it in your resume summary.
The more specific your summary is to the job description, the better. This also helps your resume score points for passing the screening of an Applicant Tracking System.
That’s why the first and most important step to write a compelling resume summary is to read the job description.
A common mistake that candidates make is writing a generic resume summary that is irrelevant to the exact job opening.
Social media professional looking to grow an audience at a company...
Social media expert with experience in Facebook and LinkedIn Marketing looking to apply audience development skills...
Use Numbers in your Resume Summary
Great resume summaries include quantified achievements. Attaching numbers to your resume profile helps recruiters see your potential.
For example, some powerful numbers that you can include on your resume summary:
- Number of years of experience
- Number of people you’ve managed
- Number of customers you’ve acquired or served
- Size of team that you worked on
- Productivity or efficiency gains as a percentage
Quantify your results
Made supply chain of my company better while managing a team.
Supply Chain Manager with 5+ years of experience. Achieved a 20% reduction in inventory days. Managed a team of 5 direct reports.
Use Action Verbs in your Resume Summary
Another impactful tactic for a resume summary is to describe your statements as actions.
Employers want to know about what you actually did in your career. Not necessarily what your current company did. Save those points for your work experience section or for the actual interview.
Use strong action verbs to help emphasize your points. Especially verbs mentioned in the job description! Take a look at our list of 350+ action verbs to get a head start.
Tip: Use action verbs on your resume. Try to stay away from phrases like "Responsible for" and "Worked on"
Let's apply our learnings. A bad example of a resume summary might look like this:
Bad example of a Healthcare Sales Resume Summary
I am an experienced Healthcare Sales Rep responsible for selling software to large hospitals. I closed many deals and generated a lot of revenue for the hospital. I want to continue selling healthcare software but to larger hospital chains.
This candidate is definitely not going to pass the 6-second glance. Let's turn that into a better resume resume based on our guidelines:
Good example of a Healthcare Sales Resume Summary
Healthcare sales executive with 5+ years of experience generating over $2M in revenue selling to large hospitals. Skilled in winning deals in a competitive space with slow adoption. Hired and currently manage a team of 15 sales professionals who have collectively sold $5M of software. Looking to apply skills and experience in selling EMR systems to large hospital chains.
Bad resume summaries mention only responsibilities and personal goals that are irrelevant to the job.
You want to make it easy for the hiring manager to decide that your resume matches the open role. But if you know that your experience is already very strong, then it’s okay to save the space on your resume for your work experience.
But what if you don’t have relevant experience for the job? A resume objective would be a better strategy for you.
What is a resume objective?
A Resume Objective is completely different than a resume summary.
While a resume summary is focused on your past experience, a resume objective describes your motivations that are aligned with the employer’s goals.
A resume objective is perfect for someone who has little to no relevant experience to the job. This can be particularly useful for job seekers such as
- College Students
- Candidates changing careers
Resume objectives also need to use strong action verbs and include quantified results. A strong resume objective for a student often includes:
- Your degree and school
- GPA if you have a strong one
- Internship experience
- Your university name especially if it's well known
- Any relevant projects or coursework
- Relevant Certifications
- Relevant Skills developed through projects or coursework
- Leadership positions in college organizations
- Professional development Motivations aligned with the job opening
- The exact position that you’re applying for
Here's an example of an entry level candidate's resume summary:
Political science honors student in the top 10% of the class. Organized 60+ group case studies as Vice President of the university's consulting club. Looking to apply organizational, written, and analytical skills at a top consulting firm.
If you’re changing careers and have irrelevant experience, position your resume best by including:
- Translatable skills such as people management, project management, technical analysis, customer service, and leadership.
- Relevant Certifications
- Professional development motivations aligned with the job opening
The most common mistake that’s made when writing a resume objective is stating a personal goal that isn’t relevant to the job. You want to entice your employer to read further by letting them know that you can do the job.
Tip: Focus on what the employer wants. Market yourself as someone who has the skills and foundation to succeed in the job.
When you have little to no relevant experience to the job, you can still use the top of your resume to demonstrate that you have what it takes to do the job.
But don’t go overboard. Often times resume objectives lean more towards describing your needs vs the employers. The goal of your resume is to market your candidacy to employers. So only include a resume objective if you’re sure it does just that. Otherwise, save the valuable space on your resume for other sections.
Examples of strong resume summaries
We've compiled a list of resume summaries for you. Use these as a reference for creating your own resume summary.
Software Engineer Resume Summary
Experienced lead full-stack software engineer seeking a position at a mid-sized web product startup where I can apply my skills in developing, scaling, and maintaining web services in Google Cloud.
See the complete Software Engineer Resume
Security Guard Resume Summary
Security professional with over 5 years of experience providing security for client property and personnel.
See the complete Security Guard Resume
Bartender Resume Summary
Veteran bartender and mixologist with 14 years of experience. Passionate for local ingredients, providing friendly and engaging customer service. Acquired a rich knowledge of the beverage world and skilled at quickly and efficiently producing high quality cocktails.
See the complete Bartender Resume
Cashier Resume Summary
Experienced cashier ready to grow into management positions. Highly personable, charming, strong work ethics and always put customers first.
See the complete Cashier Resume
Server Resume Summary
Dynamic and engaged server who is excited to jump into any situation to offer a helping hand. Overall positive, adaptable, intuitive, with a genuine interest in the well-being of customers and teammates.
See the complete Server Resume
Nurse Resume Summary
Licensed Registered Nurse with 3+ years of clinical experience seeking to improve patient care at a critical care unit using demonstrated skills in administration, compliance, and quality improvement.
See the complete Nurse Resume
Elementary School Teacher Resume Example & Writing Tips for 2020 Resume Summary
Educator with 5 years of experience in elementary schools teaching kids in grades 2-4. Ability to facilitate a classroom learning experience by breaking down subjects into a series of small and organized lessons. Looking to progress my career and continue to help young children increase their knowledge and unlock their potential.
See the complete Elementary School Teacher Resume Example & Writing Tips for 2020 Resume
Property Manager Resume Summary
Veteran property manager with 10+ years of experience managing property administration and the tenant experience. Seeking a position to manage residential properties with 100+ tenants.
See the complete Property Manager Resume
Data Analyst Resume Summary
Seeking a position as a data analyst where I can use my experience helping technology groups on various analytical initiatives to improve operational insight.
See the complete Data Analyst Resume
IT Specialist Resume Summary
Lead IT Professional with 5+ years of experience looking to apply technical skills in supporting secure technology infrastructure at a company with growing head count.
See the complete IT Specialist Resume
Tax Accountant Resume Summary
Licensed Certified Public Accountant in the state of Arizona with 10+ years of experience in Financial analysis, internal auditing, and tax accounting. Seeking an opportunity to help a business make informed financial decisions
See the complete Tax Accountant Resume
Financial Analyst Resume Summary
Experienced Financial Analyst looking to use analytical and quantitative skills to create financial models that reduce cost and improve financials at a large bank.
See the complete Financial Analyst Resume