It’s an oft-repeated stat that a hiring manager only spends seven seconds looking at a resume before deciding whether to pass on a candidate or move them forward in the hiring process. This means you can’t waste any time capturing their attention; you must let them know you’re qualified to do the job as soon as possible. A resume summary can help you accomplish this.
We’ll explain what a resume summary is, what should be included in one, and how to write a captivating statement that makes it quickly clear that you’re a strong fit for the job.
What is a resume summary?
A resume summary is a short section of text at the top of your resume. It’s an attention-grabber that should highlight your relevant skills, background, and the value you can offer to the company.
A well-written resume summary accomplishes the goal of getting the hiring manager to read the rest of your resume more closely and ultimately follow up to schedule an interview.
What is the purpose of a resume summary?
Convey strongest attributes
Your resume summary should capture your strongest, most relevant qualifications for a particular job. It could include technical skills, soft skills, prior experiences, pertinent background, professional credentials, and education.
Quickly rule candidates in or out
A resume summary helps prospective employers quickly decide whether or not you’re a fit for the role.
For example, if you meet all the advertised job requirements AND have extremely relevant experience, listing these things in your resume summary is almost certain to get you the green light to move forward. Alternatively, if you’re an entry-level candidate but the job requires five to seven years of experience, your summary will help employers rule you out and avoid wasting their time and yours.
Make up for lack of experience
If you haven’t held many jobs before (or none at all), you’re probably struggling a bit with what to put on your resume. A resume summary can help you explain who you are to the hiring manager so they can see beyond your lack of prior experience.
Capture strategic keywords
Keywords are an important component to make it past automated resume screening tools that scan the text of your resume for specific words. Your resume summary is a great place to incorporate keywords organically.
What’s the difference between a resume summary and an objective statement?
A resume summary encapsulates what makes you a great candidate for the job. An objective statement sums up what you’re looking for in your job search.
Here are examples of each type of statement for a hypothetical marketing candidate.
Analytics-driven marketing manager with eight years of experience spearheading creative digital-first campaigns. Innovative, adaptable, and committed to delivering exceptional results for clients.
Digital marketing manager with eight years of experience seeking the opportunity to oversee creative teams and exceed campaign goals as a marketing director.
What should be included in a resume summary?
- Key skills. For most candidates, technical and soft skills will be the top thing to focus on since they’re the primary drivers of job success.
- Relevant experience. Highlight aspects of your professional history that have prepared you for this role, zeroing in on any experiences that are particularly similar to your day-to-day duties.
- Professional qualifications. This includes specialized credentials or a leadership role within an industry organization.
- Impressive accomplishments. Incorporate major achievements that are relevant to the job. For example, sales candidates will want to highlight revenue figures.
- Your unique value proposition. Sum up what the company will gain by having you as a team member.
Tips for writing a strong resume summary
Use assertive language
Make definitive statements and concrete assertions rather than using phrases like “I think…” or being ambiguous.
So, instead of this:
“I think my teamwork skills and conscientiousness could be an asset to your customer service team.”
“Collaborative, conscientious professional dedicated to providing an excellent customer experience.”
Refer to the job description
There’s no need to guess what you should focus on in your resume summary; the most important keywords and qualifications are already outlined in the job description. Start with those, then personalize it with your own unique experiences, achievements, and background.
Make it personal
Why should the hiring manager choose you over all the other candidates? Is it your passion?
Expertise? Great attitude? Whatever it is, try to capture these unique traits within your resume statement.
Adjectives help a lot with this. Here are some ideas:
“Patient, empathetic special education tutor…”
“Personable, detail-oriented office administrator…”
“Creative, tech-savvy social media manager…”
Cliches are words and phrases that are used so commonly that they no longer hold their original meaning. Passionate, motivated, self-starter, thinking outside the box, and proven track record are a few of the biggest offenders.
Maintain a consistent voice
Some resume statements speak from a first-person perspective (I’m an experienced SEO specialist…), while others are written without it (SEO specialist with five years experience…). Either way is acceptable as long as you’re consistent throughout your statement.
Keep it brief
Two to three sentences are sufficient. Remember, you’re already fighting against a ticking clock, so your resume summary should be able to be skimmed in just a few seconds.
Resume summary examples
“Compassionate home health aide with 10+ years of experience caring for patients with chronic illnesses in a home-based setting. Highly skilled in personal care, medication administration, and use of devices like oxygen machines and bariatric equipment.”
“Organized, enthusiastic academic admissions coordinator skilled in reviewing applications and developing promotional events. Responsible for streamlining admissions process, resulting in a 14% increase in application completion rate.”
“Experienced mechanical engineer driven to create safe and reliable robotic production systems. Achieved an average 86% initial design approval rate. CSEP certified.”
“Tax accountant with two decades of experience helping small- to medium-sized businesses optimize their tax burden. Committed to building long-term client relationships through consistent, reliable service.”