How to optimize your resume: Writing a great summary

June 24, 2020

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Optimizing your resume plays a key role in the interview process

A resume plays an essential role in helping job seekers score interviews for the roles they apply for. That’s why it’s so important to get each section of it right if you want to impress potential employers before they’ve even met you.

Hiring managers will see an extremely high volume of resumes when searching for candidates, so it’s important to make sure yours stands out above the rest.

So, how can you make your summary leave a lasting impression?

One of the best ways to hook your potential employer when writing a resume is to create a short objective statement that really grabs their attention.

Think of your summary as a teaser for the rest of your resume. If you have extensive experience in your field, your resume might seem long and bulky.

Having a resume objective section allows you to reduce this complexity and might encourage the recruiter to pay more attention to the rest of your resume.

Read on for some expert tips on how to create an attention-grabbing resume summary that will have employers excited to learn more about your career.

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In brief, you should...

  1. Maximize impact by including relevant keywords tied to the job requirements
  2. Even better, quantify each achievement related to these keywords
  3. Ensure both your soft and technical/hard skills are clearly outlined
  4. Keep it short. Your resume summary shouldn’t be longer than 5 short sentences (or bullet points). Having a long summary sort of defeats the point of having a resume summary at all.

How to write a great resume summary

1. Highlight job specific keywords


Relevant keywords are vital when it comes to getting your CV noticed by potential employers and including them in your summary can increase your chances of getting an interview.

When a hiring manager has a pile of resumes to read through, they will scan each one to find keywords that are relevant to the job title and requirements.

Some companies may even use an applicant tracking system (ATS) to collect, scan, sort and rank candidates who have applied for their job openings.

This means that your resume content needs to include these phrases so that the hiring manager can see, at a glance, that you’re the right candidate for the job.

Keywords are words or phrases that relate to certain requirements in the job description. They could be:

  • Skills
  • Work experience
  • Qualities and values
  • Qualifications and certifications
  • Previous experience in related roles
  • Software and technology experience

Ensure your resume profile includes keywords relevant to the job you are applying for. If you have experience in a particular trade or technology and it is not covered, it can reduce the chance of securing that all-important job interview.

Note: Do not overstuff your resume with keywords to try and game an ATS. This will be easily identified by human resources at the review stage and weaken your job application

2. Quantify your achievements

Where possible, be specific and quantify your achievements.

For example, if you’re applying for an engineering role, rather than saying ‘created plans and visualizations that led to the company winning a building project contract’, make it more specific.

‘I created a range of plans and visualisations that led to the company winning a $4m building project contract’.

Placing focus on the numbers identifies that you are outcome-oriented and commercially minded.

Recruiters and hiring managers also notice the numbers and are likely to focus their attention on digits when they see them, as they tend to relate to results.

3. Mention both hard and soft skills


When it comes to applying for a job, it’s important to focus on both hard and soft skills. Hard skills relate to specific, technical training and knowledge, whereas soft skills tend to highlight personality traits such as communication skills and leadership style.

It is important to highlight both types of skill. Make sure your technical experience and ability to lead is clearly outlined. These are the skills your potential employers will be looking for, as they will relate directly to the role.

For example, when applying for a project manager role, your professional summary might look like this


The above example clearly highlights a specific job role and how their technical, industry and managerial experience relate to it. The candidate also highlights their technical skills by quantifying them in relation to previous projects.

4. Keep it short

Your resume summary statement should be a short roundup of your skills and experience.

It should be short and snappy so that the hiring manager can get an accurate snapshot of your career at a glance. Try to keep it to a maximum of 5 sentences or bullet points.

For more tips on finding a job, check out our jobseekers' guide.

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This post was written by: Nathalia Alvarez, Strategic Resourcer at Airswift, and Larissa Santos, Strategic Resourcer (HSE, Inspection & Construction) at Airswift