How to write an effective resume summary.

A concise, well-written resume summary is your ticket to an exciting new job. Learn how to write one with our comprehensive guide, and model your own after one of our examples.

Table of Contents:

  1. What is a Resume Summary?
  2. Clarifying the Different Resume Introductions
  3. How to Write a Professional Summary in 4 Steps
  4. Who Should Use a Resume Summary?
  5. Resume Summary Examples

1. What is a Resume Summary?

A resume summary, sometimes referred to as a resume summary statement or a professional summary, is arguably the most effective resume introduction used by job seekers today.

In just four bullets, a resume summary can quickly highlight your key work-related achievementsand skills to a hiring manager.

It is also one of the four main types of resume introductions, in addition to the career objectivequalifications summary, and professional profile. Here’s an example of what yours may look like:

Learn how to write an effective resume summary
Learn how to write an effective resume summary

Format: Bullet Points

In a resume summary statement, the lengthy sentences of career objectives are replaced by 4 or 5 concise bullet points.

Bullet points are no longer than one line, because this is proven to be the most effective. Each bullet includes a subheading, which emphasizes your most relevant accomplishments and skills.

A resume summary is an effective way to quickly highlight your key achievements and strengths…

Content: Quantifiable Achievements

Each and every bullet point should contain at least one piece of quantifiable data, such as a statistic or number. This quantification adds weight to your professional summary, and instantly makes you a more intriguing candidate.

Check out how this hair stylist effectively uses quantifiable data in her resume summary statement:

Resume summary containing quantifiable data
Learn how to write an effective resume summary

There are many reasons to include quantifiable data in your bullet points:

  1. It proves that you delivered on your responsibilities in your previous posts
  2. It gives the hiring manager an idea of how you’ll perform if you’re given the job
  3. Using it sets you apart from other candidates who didn’t include any concrete information

This data strengthens your resume summary because numbers attract attention. Hiring managers are looking for this information, and you’re providing it on a silver platter.

Simply put, resume summaries are the most effective way to start a resume. Not to mention, they’re incredibly easy to write. Just summarize your most relevant work skills in list form, and then find past achievements that prove them.

Anatomy of a Professional Summary Bullet

Let’s take a look at an example resume-summary bullet point:

Learn how to write an effective resume summary
Learn how to write an effective resume summary

Part #1. The Bullet Point

The bullet point differentiates each sentence from the next.

Part #2. The Subheading

The subheading is one or two words long, and is simply the name of a key soft skill or hard skill you want to advertise. It’s bolded, and follow by a colon. Since it’s short and eye-catching, it draws the hiring manager’s attention.Tip

Choose a great subheading by using a skill the company mentioned in its job posting.

Part #3. The Sentence

The main part of each sentence describes an achievement connected to the subheading skill. So if the subheading is “management,” the sentence must explain why you’re an excellent manager with an actual achievement or quantifiable data. This helps prove you’re telling the truth (see part #4).

Part #4. Quantifiable Data

Add numbers to prove each statement you make.

For instance, you could prove that you’re an excellent (or at least experienced) manager by mentioning you’ve had 47 people working under you at various points in your career.

3. Clarifying the Different Resume Introductions

Now that you know exactly what a resume summary is, let’s compare it with the other types of resume introductions.

Resume Summary vs. Career Objective

A career objective is the traditional opener to a resume. It’s a three-sentence introduction where candidates outline their experience, skills, and aspirations, and can be written by people of all experience levels.

The career objective lets candidates highlight their ambitions and potential fit at their target company. However, some hiring managers argue that every inch of resume real estate is valuable,and shouldn’t be wasted with a lengthy introduction.

Every inch of resume real estate is valuable.

In a resume summary, each bullet point is carefully crafted to advertise the candidate’s skills and achievements. This makes them a much more efficient use of space, and also more scannable for the reader.

Learn how to write an effective resume summary
Learn how to write an effective resume summary

Hiring managers can easily see where each sentence starts, which makes picking out the key details much easier – especially when they’re going through resumes at high speed (which they will be doing).

Professional Summary vs. Qualifications Summary

Resume summaries have a lot in common with qualifications summaries, but they’re not exactly the same.

Both use bullets and include quantifiable data, allowing these statements to convey information rapidly.

However, resume summaries feature a subheading, which makes the skills you bring to the table immediately clear.

Since qualifications summaries don’t use subheadings, hiring managers have to spend valuable extra seconds figuring out what you’re offering. As they say, time is money, and your resume isn’t going to be given much of it (if our 6 second resume challenge is any indicator).

Qualifications summaries also don’t necessarily include quantifiable data, which is standard for the professional summary.

Resume Summary vs. Professional Profile

The professional profile is another alternative to the resume summary.

In one respect professional profiles are versatile, since they are written in either paragraph or bullet-point form.

However, they’re also less flexible, containing a fixed number of sentences (four) or bullets (four).

In a professional profile,

  • First sentence: outlines your years of experience
  • Second sentence: describes your expertise
  • Third sentence: mentions your industry-specific skills
  • Fourth sentence: highlights your proudest work achievement

While the professional profile only mentions one single achievement, a resume summary highlights a quantifiable achievement on every line. Word for word, it’s simply the most effective way to sell yourself to a company.

4. How to Write a Professional Summary in 4 Steps

Resume summaries are easy to write. Simply follow these 4 steps to create your own and impress hiring managers far and wide.

Step #1. Pick Your Top Skills

First, you’ll need to decide which skills and character traits you want to list.Tip

If you’re not sure what skills best suit your overall application, check out our catalog of the best skills for a resume.

Regardless of the position, you must include a range of skills in your resume summary. Doing this shows that you have a balanced skill-set, and aren’t simply a one-sided candidate.

To ensure you achieve this balance, try including a mix of hard skills and soft skills.

Step #2. Come Up With Examples to Prove Your Point

Each point is built with a work-relevant achievement that proves your ability. You can reflect on your professional experience and come up with the best example for each one.

Let’s say you want to showcase your mastery of foreign languages. A hypothetical candidate who’s fluent in Spanish might write down these ideas for their resume summary:

Learn how to write an effective resume summary
Learn how to write an effective resume summary

Tip

Handwriting notes has been proven to help with memory and other creative processes. Give it a try when thinking of your top achievements!

Step #3. Produce Supporting Data

Once you’ve compiled a handful of examples, you need to add data to give your achievements weight.

You don’t need to be especially organized to get your hands on some insightful data, either.

For instance, our foreign language specialist receives an email for each assignment she’s offered, so she used the search function of her email inbox to work out how many assignments she’s completed to date.

Alternatively, she can check the invoices she’s sent out.

Translated 1000+ documents from Spanish into English.

Step #4. Pick the Example That Shows You in the Best Light

Now that you’ve gathered several examples, pick the one that illustrates your talents in the best possible light.

If you’re applying to multiple jobs, you’ll probably discover one (or several) examples fit one position better than another.

For instance, if our language candidate was applying for a slightly different role, like a conference interpreter, she might instead use this bullet:

Provided simultaneous interpretation between English and Spanish at 50+ conferences, including for the governor of Iowa.

It’s in your best interest to keep a record of these quantifiable achievements. Even after you’ve landed a job, you should still track these accomplishments as they add up. You never know when you may want to switch jobs, and this will make doing so easier in the future.Tip

Try keeping track of your achievements by organizing them in the same folder as your resume.

5. Who Should Use This Type of Resume Introduction?

Resume summaries are an ideal option for job seekers who have a lot of experience under their belts since they’re used to showcase skills, experience, and achievements.

Specifically, they’re most effective when leveraged by candidates who have:

  • Stayed in the same job for several years
  • Held several roles in the same industry
  • Worked in multiple industries over the years

Should Students Use a Resume Summary?

Resume summaries better suit people with experience, so they may not be appropriate for students. A traditional resume objective is best for most high-school and college students because it provides more space for them to talk about their dreams and goals, and puts less pressure on them to come up with quantifiable achievements.

A traditional career objective is best for most high-school and college students.

However, students who’ve held leadership roles—maybe in student government, fraternities, or social groups—could benefit from using a resume summary statement. These experiences provide several transferable skills, and can also be tied to concrete accomplishments too.

For instance,

  • student government experience will strengthen your leadership skills
  • a stint in the theater society will enhance your public speaking
  • playing on the soccer team will boost your team-player credentials

Just remember, metrics and hard data are essential for a resume summary, even for students, so make sure you add a neat statistic to each bullet point.

Served term on University of Chicago College Council, winning 4700 votes.

6. Resume Summary Examples

Here are some examples of resume summaries that we hope will inspire you when you come to create your own:

Example #1: Translator

This translator candidate’s resume summary will translate into more job interviews:


Translator Resume Summary (Text Format)

  • Spanish: Translated 1000+ documents from Spanish into English
  • Communication: Collaborate with ever-growing portfolio of clients (currently 47)
  • Time Management: Complete 99+% of assigned translation projects within agreed deadlines
  • Accuracy: Low rate (<5%) of customer requests for revision of completed translation projects

Example #2: Mechanic

Our mechanic candidate will cruise through the application process to their next job.


Mechanic Professional Summary (Text Format)

  • Vehicle repair: Repaired and serviced 2000+ vehicles
  • Upselling: Upsold parts and labor by an average of 47%
  • Customer service: Greeted an average of 52 customers a week
  • Meticulousness: Test drove 1470 vehicles to ensure work quality

Example #3: Property Manager

This property manager job seeker knows that a resume summary will inspire both clients and hiring managers.


Property Manager Resume Summary (Text Format)

  • Negotiation: Negotiated average 4.7% discount from suppliers
  • Leadership: Managed 39 staff members, including security team
  • Organization: Oversaw portfolio of 85 luxury properties
  • Trustworthiness: Handled $50m in monthly rent and fees

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