Expert tips for writing an impressive resume summary

August 8, 2023

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Optimising your resume plays a key role in the interview process

Your resume is not just a document; it's a key that unlocks doors to exciting career opportunities. It represents your professional introduction to potential employers, making mastering its content, especially the resume summary, crucial for a memorable impact. 

Your goal? 

To make your resume not merely noticeable but unforgettable, by highlighting your skills, achievements, and career goals right from the start. This strategy ensures you make a powerful impression on future employers, potentially before you've had the chance to meet them face-to-face.

In the hiring journey, hiring managers sift through a sea of resumes searching for the ideal candidate. Amidst this deluge, making your resume seen and remembered is essential. 

A standout resume grabs attention, making a lasting impression that could be the difference between landing your dream role and being overlooked.

Incorporating a resume summary is a strategic move towards this goal. It acts as a spotlight, drawing attention to your unique qualifications and setting the stage for your application to shine brighter than the rest.. 

What is a resume summary?

A resume summary (also known as a resume objective, professional summary, and career snapshot)  is like a captivating teaser at the top of your resume. It's a short and focused introduction that immediately captures the attention of potential employers and is used to highlight achievements, relevant experience, qualifications, and career goals. This small but impactful section serves as your value proposition, demonstrating why you're perfect for the job.

If your resume feels lengthy due to your extensive experience, don't worry. A well-crafted resume summary helps streamline the complexity, piquing the recruiter's interest to explore the rest of your resume.

Read on for expert tips on creating an attention-grabbing resume summary that will excite employers to learn more about your career history.


Resume summary vs. cover letter: What is the difference?

A resume summary is a concise overview of your qualifications while a cover letter is a separate document. It provides a more personalised and detailed introduction to your application and allows you to demonstrate your enthusiasm and fit for the role and company.

The resume summary and cover letter are important components in a job application, and together they present a comprehensive overview of your candidacy to potential employers.

How to write a good resume summary

Step 1: Highlight job-specific keywords

Boost your resume's impact by incorporating relevant skills directly linked to the job requirements. Tailoring your summary to match the employer's needs will make it more compelling.

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. Review the job description for the role you're applying for to identify

When a hiring manager has a pile of resumes to read through, they will scan each one to find keywords 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 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.

How does an applicant tracking system work?

                                                      Source: Gohire

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 professional experience in a particular trade or technology that is not covered, it can reduce the chance of securing that all-important job interview.

Pro-tip: 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

Step 2: Quantify your achievements

Take it a step further by quantifying each achievement associated with those keywords. Numbers and data add substance, reinforcing your accomplishments.

For example, if you're applying for an engineering role, rather than saying ‘I created plans and visualisations 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.

Step 3: Emphasise transferable skills

top transferable skills for your CV and cover letter

                                                     Source: CV Genius

Also emphasise your transferable skills to showcase your adaptability and suitability for the position, even if you are transitioning to a new industry or role.

By highlighting these versatile abilities, you demonstrate your capacity to excel in diverse environments and contribute to the team.

Step 4: Mention both hard and soft skills

difference between hard skills and soft skills

Make sure to showcase your soft skills and technical/hard skills clearly. A well-rounded summary highlights your diverse strengths and abilities.

Hard skills relate to specific, technical training and knowledge, whereas soft skills tend to highlight personality traits such as communication skills, active listening skills, social skills, and leadership style.

It is important to highlight both types of skills. Make sure your technical experience and ability to lead are 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 thiswriting-great-resume-summary-tips

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.

Step 5: Keep it short

Your resume summary statement should be a short roundup of your skills and experience. Keep it concise and to the point. Aim for a maximum of five sentences or bullet points. Remember, the purpose of a resume summary is brevity and impact.

It should be short and snappy so that the hiring manager can get an accurate snapshot of your career at a glance.

Use the active voice instead of the passive voice to place emphasis on the subject (you) performing the action. This results in a more direct statement, making your resume summary easier to read. 

Pro-tip: Utilise action verbs to drive impact. Action verbs help to convey a sense of proactivity and drive, making your accomplishments stand out even more.

For example, let's revisit the engineering role:

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

Enhanced with action verbs:

'I spearheaded the creation of a diverse array of plans and visualisations that led the company to secure a lucrative $4 million building project contract.'

By incorporating action verbs like 'spearheaded,' you emphasise your leadership and initiative, adding depth and excitement to your accomplishments.

Remember to choose strong action verbs that align with your achievements, such as 'led,'  'initiated,' 'accelerated,' 'optimised,' 'streamlined,' and 'innovated,' among others.

Incorporating action verbs in your resume not only showcases your drive and initiative but also reinforces your ability to take charge and deliver results. 

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

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This post was written by: Larissa Santos, Talent Acquisition Partner