You only have 5 or 6 seconds to make a great impression. When your resume hits the hiring manager’s inbox or desk it needs to be targeted, impressive, and interesting so it isn’t easily forgettable as they move on to review the next applicant.
The first thing a hiring manager will see is your professional resume summary at the top of the page. Clearly, this is your moment, the perfect moment to shine. Having a punchy, direct, and succinct professional summary, that tells the hiring manager what you can do for them, will ensure they read on to learn more about you and your experience.
Imagine being snowed under with a stack of resumes, a million other things to deal with, and trying not to zone out at some point as every resume is either similar or irrelevant. A unique resume can make all the difference. It is literally like getting a foot jammed in the door, then gradually pushing that door wide open to win a golden ticket - an interview!
In this blog we are going to provide you with a how-to guide on how to write a professional summary for a resume:
What is a resume summary
5 steps to writing a compelling resume summary
25+ professional resume summary examples
Resume summary or resume objective?
What to avoid in a resume summary
"Emphasize your strengths on your résumé, in your cover letters, and in your interviews. It may sound obvious, but you'd be surprised how many people simply list everything they've ever done."
-- Marcus Buckingham (Author, Motivational Speaker & Business Consultant)
What is a resume summary?
A common assumption is that a professional resume summary outlines all of your key skills, experience, and achievements, then the hiring manager will read the rest of your resume to verify this information. Right? Well, unfortunately, no, that is not usually the case.
A resume summary is a short paragraph at the beginning of your resume that outlines your relevant experience, skills, and professional achievements. It’s a snapshot of you that sells you as the ideal person for the job, so the hiring manager is compelled to read on!
Tailor the resume summary to each job description as much as possible. Check out the core duties, responsibilities, and expectations the recruiter has for the person who will perform the role, then ensure you tick all the boxes, so you are a perfect choice.
Professional summary resume sample
Here is an example of how you can tailor your resume summary according to a job advert:
Abacus has an exciting opportunity for an Outside Sales Representative with responsibility for promoting the company's products and services and building relationships with new and existing accounts. The main focus is to help Abacus customers succeed while achieving sales and profit goals established by the company.
ESSENTIAL DUTIES & RESPONSIBILITIES
Seek and qualify prospects following company account stratification goals
Build positive relationships with existing clients, with a focus on delivering excellent service, maximizing accounts, and retaining key clients.
Answer customers' questions about products, prices, availability, and product use
Minimum of 3 years outside sales experience in restaurant management or B2B sales
Demonstrates a positive approach, strong sales capabilities, and the ability to work well both autonomously and as part of a team
For this job advert, you could prepare the following resume summary:
Proactive and persuasive Outside Sales Representative, with 3 years of experience developing new business, penetrating existing accounts, and minimizing lost business in assigned territory. Keen to support Abacus in helping customers succeed and exceeding sales and profit KPIs. Consistently secured 98% customer satisfaction ratings and 20% over-average on client acquisition and retention rates.
What’s right about this professional summary?
The resume summary addresses the key criteria in the job description in terms of what the employer is looking for as the overarching focus of the role, essential duties, and the qualifications required. It is relevant to the hiring manager and would really stand out over a more generic resume summary. Key points to note include:
Proactive and persuasive – great opening that doesn’t include those overused sales buzzwords and catches the hiring manager’s attention. This is tailored to the company looking to appoint positive team members with great sales skills.
Ticks the experience box by including your 3 years of experience, which is what the employer has specified in their job posting.
Developing new business, penetrating existing accounts, and minimizing lost business,’ covers the essentials of the role in terms of prospecting new clients, maximizing accounts, and client retention.
Keen to support Abacus in helping customers succeed and exceeding sales and profit KPIs. Mentioning the company name reaffirms your commitment to the organization’s vision and goals.
Makes the hiring manager feel that if they don’t hire you, they would be missing out on a great opportunity! Include specific facts and figures to back up the skills and experience being put forward.
Here is the type of professional resume summary to avoid
Experienced Sales Representative, looking to use expertise in market research and statistical analysis to make a positive impact. Strong worth ethic, detail-oriented, and a strong team player. Seeking a role that will provide training, new experiences, and the opportunity to progress to a senior sales position.
What’s wrong with this professional summary resume sample?
There are a few problems with this professional resume summary, notably:
Very vague in terms of career background
Lacks specific detail in relation to achievements (the all-important facts and figures)
Is not relevant to the job opportunity advertised
Tailoring your resume summary is well worth the time and effort. If you compare these two professional summaries, it is pretty clear which one would stand out more in the screening process if you were a hiring manager.
Making small adjustments in your opening statement each time you apply for a specific job will inevitably buy you more time with the hiring manager.
Tell the company why you want to work for them and why you are the right person for the job. Demonstrate via your resume summary what you can do for them!
Make it all about you! Training, progression, and new experiences are great, but a hiring manager may question your commitment to them in the long term.
5 Steps to structuring a professional summary for resume
While it may seem a bit daunting to create a winning resume summary from scratch, there is a process you can follow that will enable you to structure your summary for success. Following this five-step plan will make sure you stand out from the crowd.
1. Create your professional summary last
Once you have written the other sections of your resume, it’s a lot easier to create your professional summary. Cherry-pick the key facts and impressive highlights so they stand out to the hiring manager.
2. Tailor your professional summary to the specific job opportunity
Read and re-read the job description and pull out the important keywords. These are nouns or phrases that detail the job description, required skills, and qualities of the ideal candidate the company is looking for, so this is an amazing resource.
Consider how your unique skills and experience mesh with the key requirements in the job advertisement. Including these keywords will boost your chances of ‘beating the bots’ in terms of Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) that many companies now use.
3. Detail your area of expertise and length of experience right away
Tell the recruiter why you are the solution to their problems and how your years of experience have underpinned this. You can use some bold or italics for example to make the text pop. For example, “Certified Project Management Professional with over 4 years of experience”.
4. Focus the body of the summary on selling you
The main body of the professional resume summary needs to sell you and encourage the hiring manager to read on. Create two or three sentences that tell the company what you can offer and the values you can bring to them in terms of hard and soft skills. Look for common threads in your work history and skills that the recruiter will be impressed by.
5. Highlight measurable achievements
List specific facts and figures that demonstrate your accomplishments and successes in the workplace. Showcase any targets you achieved and/or exceeded, awards and accolades received, promotions, and/or increased levels of responsibility
What to avoid in a professional resume summary
While thinking about what to include in your resume summary in terms of transferable skills and experience, it’s also good to know what to exclude. According to Glassdoor, the following are a big “NO-NOs” in a professional summary:
Spelling and grammar errors
Irrelevant experience and skills
No action verbs
Lack of specifics
25+ Professional resume summary examples
Now you have the tools you need to create a stand-out professional resume summary, here are some examples that can be used and adapted across different roles and sectors.
Office & Administration
Administrative assistant resume summary
Proactive Administrator, with over three years of experience in the real estate sector. Leverages strong multi-tasking skills to organize four executive schedules, coordinate office activities, and deliver optimal client care. Seeking to apply strong communication skills to benefit ABC Properties as the next Administrative Assistant.
Executive assistant resume summary
Agile Executive Assistant, experienced in delivering 360° support to the CEO and key members of the executive team over the past five years. Slashed events expenditure by 35% following renegotiation of vendor contracts. Offers reliability, discretion, intelligence, and outstanding administrative skills. Strong proficiency in MS Office, Adobe, and Asana.
Office manager resume summary
Seasoned Office Manager, offering 10 years of experience in the leadership of office operations and large-scale administrative teams, comprising up to 50 staff. Adept at developing processes that improve accuracy and efficiency, such as the transition of workflow, projects, and tasks to an automated work management platform. Articulate and confident leader and communicator.
Sales & customer service
Customer service representative resume summary
Engaging customer service advisor with 5+ years’ experience delivering superior customer service in fast-paced retail environments. Surpassed expectations by achieving an 85% customer satisfaction rating, 20% over the company average. Looking to apply strong interpersonal and rapport-building skills to support ABC Company in driving sales and service excellence.
Sales associate resume summary
Driven Sales Executive, holding over eight years of experience in the automotive sector. Grew client base by networking and referral systems, developing and maintaining key relationships and partnerships. Proactively cross-selling and upselling products and services to exceed department KPIs by 50% in a six-month period and won Salesperson of the Year twice.
Sales manager resume summary
High-energy Sales Manager, with a combined 11+ years of experience in sales and management, emphasizing optimal client service and a team-focused approach. Generated over $1.4M in revenue via the deployment of targeted customer acquisition strategies. Recognized as a motivational leader, coach, and mentor to diverse sales teams.
SEO specialist resume summary
Talented SEO Specialist, with three years of experience in client engagement and search engine optimization. Bringing expertise in digital media, trend analysis, and cross-functional collaboration to ABC Company. Created interactive marketing strategies that improved SEO performance for 10 clients by an average of 25% YoY. Professional certifications in Google Digital Marketing and SEO Fundamentals.
Content writer resume summary
Accomplished content writer, strategist, and marketing specialist, who delivers compelling, inspiring, and creative copy across global print, digital and social channels. Secured regular publications in Forbes, Entrepreneur, and Business Insider. Skilled in boosting online presence and lead generation via targeted content.
Marketing manager resume summary
Passionate, curious, customer-centric Marketing Manager and top-level relations builder, with 10+ years of experience in corporate settings. Recognized for the attainment of the highest brand awareness (26%) and the largest increase in search volume in 2021. Laser-focused eye for design, with strong copywriting skills and advanced proficiency in Canva.
Business analyst resume summary
Strategic Business Analyst, with 4+ years of experience and the ability to provide quality, evidence-based business intelligence that offers real operational benefits to the organization. Optimized the client onboarding process and applied used text analytics and natural language processing to improve process efficiency by 25% in current role.
Human resources manager resume summary
Forward-thinking HR Manager, with over 10 years of experience in all facets of human resource management. Champions a performance culture via continuous improvement initiatives, training, staff feedback, and employee awards – with employee engagement levels rising by 10% in three months in current role. MBA in Human Resources and SHRM certified.
Project manager resume summary
PMP-certified project manager, with 7+ years of experience in the full lifecycle leadership of fast-track projects ranging in scale and complexity. Applies Agile and Sprint methodologies to deliver projects on time, within budget, and to exacting standards. Led the turnaround of a failing $500M development project via cross-functional collaboration, process reengineering, and active performance management.
Finance assistant resume summary
Energetic Finance Assistant, holding a bachelor’s degree in finance and three years of experience supporting the finance function in a fast-paced production environment. Strong proficiency in MS Office and Sarbanes-Oxley compliance software. Resolved payroll errors and reduced complaints by 70% in a three-month period. Bilingual in English and Spanish.
Accountant resume summary
Disciplined CPA, with 8 years of experience in all facets of public accounting and financial auditing. Proven track record of identifying areas for improved financial performance in line with federal and state regulations. Significantly reduced expenditure for six clients, equating to over $100K per client. Seeking to leverage vast accounting expertise with DEF Company.
Finance Manager resume summary
Performance-driven Finance Manager, with over 12 years of experience leading finance functions for Fortune 500 companies. Partners with management teams to steer strategic planning, drive cost reductions and boost revenue growth and profitability. Increased operating profit margin from 15% to 30% in current role. Won Finance Manager of the Year 2021.
Education & teaching
Teacher resume summary
Passionate and attentive Music Teacher, with over 10 years of experience delivering outstanding classroom pedagogy and inspiring exceptional teaching and learning. Valuable exposure as a talented musical accompanist and violinist. Greatly improved student engagement and performance, achieving a 90% pass rate for Grades 4 to 9 in 2021.
Social worker resume summary
Highly motivated Social Worker, holding a bachelor’s degree in social work and with seven years of experience supporting disadvantaged young people. Managed a caseload of 50 clients, including emancipated youth, homeless, and special-needs populations; delivering programs that improve self-esteem and enhance life skills. Adept at building trust with clients, families, partner agencies, and the wider community.
Nurse resume summary
Highly skilled Registered Nurse, with 12 years of experience in a broad range of nursing environments, including vast expertise across triage services, clinical reviews, HEDIS, auditing, and compliance. Patient-focused, with strong critical thinking and clinical judgment skills to ensure optimal healthcare delivery – achieving over 95% in compliance audits.
Medical assistant resume summary
Certified Medical Assistant with two years of experience in an outpatient clinic setting, involving the delivery of optimal medical and patient care. Organized and capable of handling highly confidential documents, administering medication, and ensuring compliance with HIPAA and OHSA regulations. Patient-focused, serving circa 50 patients a day in current role and averaging 95% in patient feedback surveys.
Technical resume summary
Software Developer resume summary
Systems Engineer resume summary
Detail-oriented Systems Engineer, holding a master’s degree in systems engineering and over 6 years of experience in the design, development, and optimization of automated manufacturing facilities. Delivered two major operating system upgrades and performed extensive testing to reduce machine downtime by 15% in a recent role. Six Sigma Black Belt and PMP certified.
IT Consultant resume summary
Lead IT Consultant with over five years of experience in the design and optimization of network security across infrastructure, cloud, and networks. Extensive knowledge of SDLC / DevSecOps principles, next-generation firewalling, micro-segmentation, and database monitoring. Achieved $7M operational cost savings across 15 applications following the implementation of a secure infrastructure for a leading bank.
Food & beverage sector
Server resume summary
Personable and enthusiastic Server, with over five years of experience in a fast-paced, high-end French restaurant. Customer-centric, with the ability to build rapport with guests and ensure an outstanding dining experience. Ensures a thorough knowledge of menu offerings, applied to upsell wine pairings, appetizers, and desserts. Awarded responsibility as Team Lead on a regular basis to cover absences/holidays.
Restaurant manager resume summary
Target-driven Restaurant Manager, with 7+ years of experience in a demanding and high-quality five-star restaurant. Project managed a major refurbishment of the restaurant and deployed new training programs to ensure optimal client service – with sales doubling following re-launch and staff engagement increasing to 92%. Looking to drive profitability, efficiency, and customer awareness of ABC Restaurant and Wine Bar.
General labor & security
Warehouse operative resume summary
Methodical and hard-working Warehouse Operative with two years of experience processing orders in a fast-paced supermarket environment. Eager to join the warehouse team at XYZ Supermarkets and deliver against challenging KPIs. Won Picker of the Month on three occasions for maintaining over 95% accuracy and efficiency rate.
Housekeeper resume summary
Proactive Housekeeper, with over six years of experience managing cleaning activities to high-quality standards in large-scale hotels. Resolved guest inquiries and requests politely and professionally, securing top ranking (average 96%) in guest feedback surveys. Deputized as Housekeeper Supervisor for a six-month period due to absence. Certified First Aider.
Security guard resume summary
Diligent Security Guard, holding 12+ years experience in the delivery of security and concierge services across high-profile, corporate environments. Achieved zero site security and safety issues in my current role, while working in full compliance with stringent legal and regulatory requirements. Certifications in static patrol, conflict management, and C-Cure Access Control.
Should I use a professional resume summary or resume objective?
When you are looking toward new career horizons or are a recent graduate with little or no experience in your desired field, it can be difficult to know how to target your resume in the right direction. Hiring managers reading your resume summary may pass you over in favor of job applicants with more relevant experience.
Don’t worry! In this situation, instead of a resume summary, a resume objective is the best way to overcome this problem and get past the first five or six-second review.
Your resume objective needs to outline:
Any relevant studies, work experience, volunteer work, internships, transferable skills, and/or expertise relevant to the job opening
What added value you can offer to the position in terms of hard or soft skills
Why you are applying for this specific position and how you can help the company achieve their goals
Here is an example of a change of direction resume objective:
For a change of direction
Disciplined and adaptable professional, holding Scrum Master certification, combined with a solid foundation in project leadership, technical support, and client care. Strong multi-tasker, capable of handling multiple priorities to exacting standards. Committed to enhancing project delivery and excelling in the role of Scrum Master with DEF Company.
If you are a recent graduate, try this approach for your professional resume objective:
For a recent graduate
Dean's List college graduate with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering and practical experience secured via a prestigious internship with Boeing. Advanced technical capabilities in the field of computer-aided design (CAD) and strong critical-thinking skills. Eager to join MNO Engineering to contribute to the optimization of mechanical processes.
One of the key things to get across in a resume objective statement is that you are adaptable, have great problem-solving skills, and can learn new systems and processes quickly. This will give a clear sign to the hiring manager that you can transfer your skills and experience to the role they are looking to fill.
Tailor your resume summary to the specific job opportunity. You don’t need to rewrite, just tweak the content so it is relevant to the company you are targeting
Don’t create a long resume summary as hiring managers will just zone out. Keep it short, direct, and impactful! No longer than 5 short sentences.
Read it out to yourself. When you’re finished writing, read through your summary from the perspective of a hiring manager, asking “Why would I hire this person?”.