How To Create an Effective Resume Summary

If you’re looking to make the right first impression on hiring managers who read your resume, you need them to understand who you are and what you’re hoping to offer the company. A resume summary is crucial to creating this impression. However, many aren’t using the best practices that can help their resumes go from good to great.

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Resume Summary

One of the best ways you can improve your resume in just a few minutes is by writing a strong resume summary.

If you’re looking to make the right first impression on hiring managers who read your resume, you need them to understand who you are and what you’re hoping to offer the company. A resume summary is crucial to creating this impression. However, many aren’t using the best practices that can help their resumes go from good to great.

If you’re looking to get more out of your resume summary, here are the most important things to know.

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What Is a Resume Summary?

A resume summary is a paragraph of a few sentences that goes right at the top of your resume. This paragraph gives more insight into who you are, and features skills and past experiences relevant to the job you’re pursuing, showing what you can do to benefit the company as a whole.
The resume summary’s prime objective is to incentivize a hiring manager to want to read your entire resume. You’re collapsing your entire career down to just a few sentences — you need to make sure it’s as engaging as possible, as it could be the difference between getting a job and not getting a job.

Why Do I Need a Resume Summary in 2022?

More than ever before, you need to stand out and effectively showcase your best skills to the hiring managers and recruiters who are reading your resume. The job market is saturated with people looking for a job, and you need to make sure people choose you over other qualified others who respond to the same job post.
Moreover, it’s even more important than ever to have a targeted resume summary in 2022. Hiring managers and recruiters want you to identify all of your most important skills up front so they can determine at a glance whether you’re a good option for the company. Use these tips to help you find the right language to use and skills to highlight so your resume summary is truly effective.

Understanding the Structure of a Resume Summary

Follow this structure to get the point across most effectively in your resume summary. The three things to keep in mind are the length, the points you’re covering, and the style of writing you use.
1. Length
Your resume summary should typically be three sentences at most. The important thing to note is that you’re not going over every tiny facet of your work history and information — you’re going over the most important pieces of information. The rest of your resume will provide more highlights; focus on displaying your best qualifications here.
2. What to cover
Now that you know you only have a small amount of length to work with, what should you cover in your resume summary? The most important things to highlight are your relevant experience, your top abilities, and a summary of the certifications you possess. If the job listing is looking for people with a certain number of years of experience, add that information. Highlight whatever is most impressive about your resume and what you excel in, and address key requirements that are mentioned in the job description.
3. How to write your summary
Be sharp and to the point. You should be so snappy, in fact, that you won’t actually use full sentences — instead, use sentence fragments, cutting out introductory words like “I have” and “I was.” You also want to avoid any vague wording like “many” and “some.”
Every job application and every job field are going to be a little bit different, so look at resume examples that apply to your specific job field. Make sure you tailor your summary to the job you’re applying to.

Resume Summary Examples

One of the best ways to learn how to write an effective resume summary is simply by looking at existing summaries in our resume samples. Make sure you use the resume samples that match the job you’re looking into so you can get the best resume summary for your own resume.

FAQ: Resume Summaries

Q: Do I need both a cover letter and a resume summary?

A resume summary and a cover letter are two very different things. Cover letters provide a much more expansive understanding of who you are and how you can benefit a company, and they’re part of what you’ll provide during a job search. They typically take up an entire page, and offer more information on a variety of your professional achievements, including a number of different competencies and metrics.

However, a resume summary is different. A resume summary is like a mini-cover letter that only goes on your resume. Here, you’re only going to highlight your most impressive professional experiences and skills. More details of your track record can go into your cover letter.

Q: Are resume summaries still important for entry-level jobs?

While you can use a resume summary for an entry-level job, some jobs emphasize more experience than higher-level jobs. Here’s how a good resume summary may look for a high-level marketing manager:

  • Self-motivated, natural leader with over 10 years’ experience managing marketing concerns for Fortune 500 companies. Worked with American Express on a $10 million award-winning omnichannel marketing campaign that improved sales by 24% over a year. Excited to move forward with ResumeHelp as the lead point on digital marketing and advertising.

Contrast that example, which prioritizes specific skills and experience, with a summary you might submit for a marketing internship right out of college:

  • Self-motivated, adept learner with a desire to learn and grow as part of ResumeHelp’s marketing and advertising team. Graduated Arizona State University with a Bachelor of Marketing in the top 10% of the class. Extensive experience with marketing projects, winning two scholarships centered around customer satisfaction and e-commerce initiatives.

Note how your major achievements are still the focus, but these achievements are slightly different. Sure, graduating in the top 10% of the class might not look as exciting as managing a $10 million marketing campaign, but an intern’s experiences won’t be as robust as high-level marketing manager’s. A manager resume will look different from an internship resume, but both can be effective. It’s all about making sure you interest the hiring manager enough to look at the rest of your resume.

Q: How do I make sure my resume summary works with ATS?

ATS, which stands for Applicant Tracking Systems, is a type of software that employers use to screen resumes before they even make it to a hiring manager’s desk. This type of software is looking for specific keywords in your resume; if it doesn’t find them, you’re less likely to get a job interview offer, or your resume might get discarded right there.

How do you avoid this? The simple answer: look at the job listing and do whatever you can to utilize many of the same keywords in your resume summary as you see in the job listing. If the job listing notes that it’s looking for a “problem-solving innovator with a skill set based around patient care,” you want to utilize the keywords “problem-solving,” “innovative,” and “patient care” in your resume summary. Look at the job listing, try to identify keywords in it, and then use those keywords in your resume summary, while matching them to your own skills and experience.

Q: What’s the difference between a resume summary and a resume objective?

A resume objective will describe your professional goals as well as your qualifications for the job you’re applying for. The main difference is that in a summary, the emphasis will be on work experience rather than your goals.

Generally, you’ll want to use a resume objective statement if you’re looking to make a career change or are a first-time job seeker. If you have the skill set necessary for a new job, but you don’t have much experience, a resume objective may be best, as it places your skills front and center, and explains how you plan to use them.

On the other hand, if you can stand out from other job seekers in your arena because of your experience, it’s best to go for a resume summary.

Q: Should I write a new resume summary for each job?

While it may seem daunting, it’s a good idea to write a new resume summary for every job you apply to. No two jobs are exactly alike, and you’ll want to update your summary to meet the requirements of each job. Plus, the keywords each company uses for its ATS scanning will be different depending on their job listings, which means you need to update your keywords for every summary.

Lastly, hiring managers and recruiters are going to notice if you have a resume summary that’s cookie-cutter and doesn’t directly address their needs. The more you personalize your resume summary to specific job listings, the more likely recruiters are going to want to call you back, because you’re demonstrating you’ve done your research on that job.

If you want to make sure your resume provides everything you need to get hired, make sure you use ResumeHelp’s resume builder. Combined with the professional resume summary examples you’ll find here, these resume templates will help you create a resume summary, and resume, that really shines.

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