Here’s a quick challenge for you..
Thoroughly summarize your professional history using just a few impactful yet concise statements.
Make sure to include everything that qualifies you for a particular role - your past experiences, key learnings, skills acquired, educational achievements, and everything else that can help your resume earn a spot at the top of the resume pile.
Well, this is something you need to do every time you apply for a job, isn't it?
It’s called writing your resume summary (also known as career summary, professional summary, summary of qualifications, professional summary for resume, or resume summary statement), and it’s a resume section that trips up nearly every job seeker.
In this guide, we’ll be going through everything you need to know about writing a professional summary for your resume. By the end of it, you’ll be able to easily come up with the best resume summary statement for your purpose!
Here’s what all we’ll be covering:
- What is a Resume Summary Section and Why it Matters
- What’s the Difference Between Resume Summary and Objective Statement?
- Advantages of Writing a Professional Resume Summary Statement
- Tips for Crafting an Impressive Resume Summary
Your resume section is a small text block that sits at the top of your resume -- right below the header, which includes your name and contact details.
Within this block of text, you summarize all the excellent things about your qualification and work experience that will strike a chord with the hiring manager so that your resume can be moved to the “to be interviewed” pile -- or at the very least, moved far from the “recycling bin” pile.)
If you’re wondering how a resume summary section differs from an objective statement, keep reading - you’ll find your answers in depth!
For now, just know that in today’s diverse job search landscape, an objective statement is considered a somewhat obsolete practice. Instead, hiring managers and employers prefer to see a crisp and informative resume summary statement instead.
The reason -- Nearly every job seeker has the same objective, i.e., to land a job. So, by replacing that old standard with a summary section, hiring managers get more insight into who you are and what you bring to the table for their company.
The core purpose of having a resume summary section is to introduce your skills, knowledge, and expertise to the hiring manager without taking too much of their time. Essentially, you’re using this section to showcase the recruiters your entire background.
A resume summary section is a fantastic opportunity for you to intrigue your employer and draw their attention further to your resume by informing them about your capabilities in short.
Use the resume summary section to give the recruiters a glimpse into what all you can possibly do for their business. Treat this as a meta-resume, and mention all the important keywords and highlights that you want them to notice at first.
If you’re a fresher and don’t have much work experience to showcase, you can use a resume summary section to elaborate on your objectives, interests, and future targets. It’ll still be effective and compelling, and definitely better than having a weak, limited overview.
As we’ve seen so far, a summary section, or a professional summary for resumes, consists of a few pithy and strong statements and is present at the beginning of your resume. To get a better idea, here’s a sample summary:
Sounds great! But you’re essentially giving up valuable space on your resume for information that’s anyway present in the later parts of your resume. Makes you wonder - do you news a resume summary section?
The short answer is - yes. You definitely need a summary section in your resume, and you should not skip it. What goes in that section, however, will depend on your situation.
If you’re an experienced professional, a good resume summary statement highlighting your skills and achievements is a must. If you’re a fresher, just beginning with job hunting (all the best), you can use that section to highlight your academic achievements and your future aspirations. It’s a meta-resume for experienced professionals as well as freshers.
So nope, don’t skip this section. Make good use of it!
You should use the summary section irrespective of whether you’re a beginner or an experienced professional. If you have relevant experience, you should establish your expertise, experience, and achievements in this field. If you’re a fresher, talk about your key goals, intentions, learnings and their implementation, and more.
Whichever road you take, you should be showcasing your value using that section. What makes you a beneficial asset to the recruiter’s company? Why shouldn’t they miss out on you?
Note: While it’s recommended to have a resume summary section in your resume for job hunting, and most of the resumes you’ve seen must’ve had this section, you should know that it’s not a compulsion. It entirely depends on you and the job you’re applying for. If you feel you can showcase that info in a better way throughout the resume instead of placing it at the top, feel free to try that. Just that having a resume summary is tried-and-tested!
A resume objective summary is generally a couple of lines that highlight your goals and aspirations. Here’s an example:
“A highly motivated, fast learner, recently graduated from [__] with a degree in [__]. Looking to expand my skills and knowledge by working for opportunities in the [__] domain.
You must’ve been asked to add such an objective statement at the top of your resume throughout your college - by teachers, seniors, peers. And chances are, you still use a version of this statement even today.
This format has become outdated. Practicing it is not encouraged today. It’s a custom that has been forgotten for many good reasons, like:
A resume professional summary, on the other hand, focuses on the right things - highlighting your key skills, achievements, and expertise relevant to the position you’re targeting.
A good resume summary statement consists of your level of experience, the value that you can add, industry achievements, and current goals. It sets the tone for the rest of the document.
It is your opportunity to deliver your elevator pitch to the employers. You can ask yourself the following questions to figure out what all would you want to include in the resume summary section:
You’ll find many different names for this section. Some call it a resume professional summary, but it is better known as a career summary, summary of qualifications for resume, resume professional profile, an executive summary on a resume, profile summary in a resume, best summary for resume, the summary section of resume, and more. But all of them mean the same, so don’t get confused!
Let’s go through some sample resume summaries for different stages of your career:
Besides providing you a top-spot to quickly summarize your achievements and skills, a resume summary statement section is also beneficial to you in the following ways:
Employers generally just skim through your resume the first time they see it to find out if you’re a good fit or not. Think 4-6 seconds. If you’re able to showcase your key givings in this section and capture their attention, your resume will find itself at the top of all the other resumes. That means you’ll get more attention and more chances of converting the job.
If you have relevant experience, your resume summary can be a good spot to highlight all of it and establish yourself as a knowledgeable figure in the industry. If you’re a fresher, on the other hand, you can write about your internships, skills acquired, projects completed so that your employers are aware of your sincerity to the domain.
Including a resume summary statement allows you to quickly include all the keywords listed in the job posting. For this, you should carefully go through the descriptions of the positions that interest you -- especially sections like Requirements, Education, or Experience. From there, you’ll get an idea of what keywords you most definitely want to include in the summary statement.
For instance, a job description for a nurse could say that the requirement is of 10+ years of experience in advanced patient care. If you’re applying for this, you might want to definitely include your years of experience in your resume summary statement. So, a one-liner resume summary statement could be:
Compassionate BSN with 10+ years of experience and certifications in neonatal resuscitation and management of assaultive behavior.
Here, the resume summary statement includes a soft skill (compassionate) and some key technical skills. Only a cursory glance over this will inform the interviewer that the candidate checks in all the required boxes!
Resume keywords are extremely crucial to get your resume past the first stage of any screening process - the ATS bots. These are position-related expressions which talk about experience, traits, skills, or achievements. ATS (Application Tracking System) scans resumes before your hiring manager does, and if it doesn’t encounter the keywords, it’s likely to skip past the resume.
For instance, read the below summary:
Motivated professional with over 10 years of experience in web designing using industry-leading tools and platforms, including various CMSes (like WordPress, Shopify, HubSpot). Proficient in Adobe Photoshop CC and Illustrator for front-end graphic designing and database management for binding front-end to the back-end...
The bold words - those are the resume keywords!
This is what your recruiters (and ATS bots) see when they go through your resume. For the uninitiated, ATS is a software that tracks and scans every application that comes in for any job. Based on the job description and the content written in the resume, it decides whether or not to forward this resume to the recruiter.
And the odds don’t really favor you!
ATS rejects, on average, around 75% of job applications.
That is why it is recommended to use as many resume keywords as you naturally can (plus one more) throughout your resume, and especially in the resume summary section.
Before we get started with the different examples and samples of resume summary statements, here’s a quick roundup of the key things you must include in your resume summary statement:
Note: You can use bullets or paragraphs, but in either way, make sure to not exceed more than 4-5 sentences. Generally, if you’re an experienced professional, it’ll make sense to use bullets because you’ll have enough things to write. For freshers or mid-level professionals, paragraphs might be a good way to go. Both are fine, as long as you’re keeping the sentences crisp and to the point.
Qualified customer service representative with many years of experience. Looking forward to joining your company and developing professionally, and seeking new challenges. Appreciated on many occasions by peers and superiors for handling difficult customer situations and resolving complex issues.
First of all, it’s difficult that the summary will get past the ATS stage as it lacks keywords. Second, this isn’t the only resume your recruiter will be reading. According to Jobvite, any average job offer attracts up to 50 resumes for one post. So, this summary statement will just get a smirk.
It’s vague, generic, has no substantial information or numbers, lacks any insightful details about the candidate or what they can offer. It doesn’t work!
10+ years of experience in providing customer service. Currently working for [__] as a [__]. Efficiently handled teams of 100+ people without missing deadlines and awarded the [__] award for my efforts. Looking forward to bringing my experience and expertise to the table and commencing a journey of mutual growth!
Creative software engineering bringing 10+ years of experience to the table. Worked on producing robust and scalable code for high-volume companies. Eager to work with the dev team at the [__] company and present my top-notch coding skills. During my work experience, I’ve used my skills to increase customer retention by 30% while handling a team of developers.
Engineering Resume Summary
Determined civil engineer with over 5 years of experience working on on-site projects. Proficient with MATLAB and image processing, looking to use first-class production design and process skills to push forward manufacturing excellence at the [__] company. Boosted production efficiency by 35% at the current company and consistently delivered to customer needs at over 20% under budget.
IT Resume Summary
Dedicated IT professional with 7 years of experience and strong collaborative traits. Experienced with working in fast-paced companies that work on scalable products. Eager to offer top-notch analytical, logical, and computer skills to help the [__] company grow. Having boosted client satisfaction ratings consistently, I was recognized with great ratings.
Data Engineer Resume Summary
Disciplined data engineer with more than 5 years of proven experience in analyzing business processes using data engineering. Worked on Big Data and related technologies like Hadoop, Hive, and MongoDB to create scalable applications that catered to a huge audience. Eager to leverage the acquired skills to add value to the organization. Appreciated in my current job role for identifying a major bottleneck and reducing costs by 20%, saving around 500,00$ a year.
Experienced Data Scientist with a strong mathematics background and 5+ years of official experience working with data mining, data processing, predictive modeling, and data warehousing to solve complex business problems. An active part of a Python open-source community and passionate about reinforcement learning. Looking to dedicate my skills towards exploring and possibly inventing new concepts under reinforcement learning.
Data Security Analyst Resume Summary
Disciplined and experienced data security analyst bringing more than 7 years of expertise to the table. Looking forward to leveraging big data and visualization skills at the [__] company to foster mutual growth and benefit.
Application developer with 2 years of experience in coding, testing, debugging and establishing scalable and robust applications. The desire to always upskill has helped me master technologies like Ruby on Rails, NodeJS, PHP, Python, and more. Looking to utilize my skills, interests, and experience in your organization.
Database admin offering a comprehensive understanding of security and backup procedures to ensure database integrity. Bringing 7+ years of experience to the table. Strong background in creating disaster recovery plans for offices globally. Superior presentation, communication, as well as analytical skills, and an eye for detail.
An accomplished computer engineer with over a decade of experience in the field. Possesses in-depth knowledge of hardware design and engineering best practices, and also seeking an opportunity to develop and maintain robust hardware systems.
Quick-solver DevOps engineer with 8 years of experience in the domain, proficient with coding languages like C, Java, Python, and all the key infrastructure. A strong passion for operations and systems management. So far in my career, I’ve:
10+ years of experience of working with internal as well as external teams, including designers, programmers, developers, testers, and clients, to provide cost analysis, assist with creating seamless user interfaces, and create implementation timelines. Strong grasp of the entire software lifecycle and all relevant stages.
Experienced IT Auditor skilled in analyzing data and finding duplication, areas of difficulties, legal compliance, and extravagance or fraud. 10+ years of working expertise on improving methods of management, reducing duplicated workloads, and finding areas of deficiency.
Ethical Hacker Resume Summary
Ethical hacker bringing 5 years of experience in assessing cyber-physical systems and automated systems to identify vulnerabilities and errors in their execution, operation, or even design. Seeking an Ethical Hacker position with <the organization name>, bringing working knowledge of various network architectures and OWASP.
A qualified and experienced Blockchain developer with over 15 years of experience. Contributed across different domains and different Blockchain concepts like STOs, Defi, and more. Interested in and passionate about contributing expertise in web and blockchain development to <the organization name>. Strong collaborative skills allow me to be a part of any team in a fast-paced environment.
10+ years experienced project manager belonging to the Information Technology domain. Core competencies include analytical thinking, computer networking, network operations, and creative problem-solving abilities. In the current role, I’ve reduced costs and saved time by 40% and 50%, respectively, using my creative, analytical skills. Able to apply customer service concepts to IT to improve the user experience for clients, employees, and administration.
Human Resources Resume Summary
Highly empathetic and passionate Human Resources Manager with 5+ years of experience. Eager to boost employee retention and motivation for <the company name>. In the current position, improved employee retention by 50% year-on-year, boosted employee participation in training by 30%.
Now that you have all the required information, it’s time to get your hands dirty and craft a good resume summary statement for yourself. Keep the following tips in mind, and you’ll be on your way to bagging your next job!
1. Think about what you have to offer
Perhaps you’ve throughout been a strong collaborator, someone who leads teams of 100s efficiently? Or maybe you’ve managed large accounts? Maybe you can speak more than one language too, and have completed various relevant certifications too. If you’re a senior professional, you might want to write about the unmatched business and technical expertise that you’ll bring to the table!
2. Harness the power of words
Avoid using vague words like “multi-tasker”, “team player”, or even “successful”. Instead, opt for action words that truly show your value and worth. Think about words like “chaired”, “executed”, “oversaw”, “advanced”, “amplified”, and more. So, Instead of ‘team player’, say ‘strong collaborator’. ‘Multitask’ becomes ‘good sense of balance’, ‘successful’ becomes ‘profitable’, ‘managed’ becomes ‘supervised’ or ‘guided’, and so on!
3. Avoid being generic
Tailor each statement of your resume summary section as per the job you’re applying for. Writing one generic summary statement for different job roles defeats the purpose, as this section should always be personalized. A well-written, to the point resume summary gives a clear indication of how you’ve added value so far and makes the hiring manager want to speak to you!
4. Don’t underestimate yourself
Remember that your objective is to show the employer what you can do for them. For that, you’ll need to pitch and sell yourself and your skills. Use action words to list your achievements -- make sure to demonstrate confidence, but not cockiness. Ask yourself - why should the employer hire you? Then, compare the answer to that with the skills you’ve possessed in order to come up with a good resume summary statement.
5. Stand out and get noticed
Paying attention to minor details can go a long way towards helping you be noticed. Go through the job description, responsibilities, and even do some background check on the company. Then, use the words and ideas from your research and accommodate them into your summary.
With that, we come to the end of an elaborate guide. Now, you have all the information (and samples) you need in order to bag your next job. Go for it! All the very best!