A resume summary statement is a one- to two-sentence professional introduction that you can add to the top of your resume to highlight your most valuable skills and experiences. The resume summary can help employers quickly learn whether you have the skills and background they require.
In this article, we’ll look at what a resume summary is, the benefits of including one and how to write a resume summary with examples.
What is a resume summary?
A resume summary, also known as a professional summary or summary statement, is a one to two sentence description at the start of your resume that describes you, your level of experience and your key skills. Using a resume summary allows you to showcase your strongest assets upfront.
It can be helpful to think about a resume summary as an answer to the question, “How would you describe your work experience in one sentence?”. For example, if have you 10 years of experience working as a registered nurse, you’ve likely developed a long list of accomplishments for your resume.
Creating a summary that showcases the most relevant, key points for a specific position and employer can be helpful by allowing the audience to get a solid picture of your qualifications immediately. Here are a few other ways including a resume summary can be helpful.
Benefits of a resume summary statement
When you’re deciding what to put on your resume, including your summary statement, it’s a good idea to consider the job you’re applying for, the company and the industry it’s in. Here are several benefits of including a resume summary:
Get noticed faster
The first time they see your resume, employers will likely scan to see whether your profile is a good match for the job. This means that you want your most relevant skills and experiences to be easy to find. A strong summary statement at the top of your resume can increase the chances of them noticing what you have to offer from the start.
Highlight your key skills and experience earlier
Your resume should be clear and easy to read. If you have extensive experience, your resume may seem bulky or complex. A summary section can help reduce the complexity for those who have a wider range of experiences down to the most relevant, important points. It may also encourage the hiring manager to give your resume more attention if they find what they’re looking for in your resume summary.
Including a resume summary can quickly address keywords listed in a job posting. Carefully read the job descriptions for the positions that interest you. You should review sections with titles like “Requirements,” “Experience,” or “Education” to decide which skills or experiences you should include in your summary.
For example, a job posting for a nurse could say the employer is seeking someone with 10 years of advanced patient care. If you fit those criteria, you may want to include your years of experience and specific technical skills in the summary section. The summary of qualifications for a registered nurse, for example, might say:
Here, the resume writer includes a soft skill (“compassionate”) and some of her key technical skills employers may find important, such as a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing (BSN), and other in-demand certifications. Depending on your level of experience and the jobs you’re applying for, what you choose to focus on in your resume summary may vary.
Resume summary vs. objective
While a resume summary will highlight a few important experiences and skills you’ve acquired, a resume objective is a statement of your career goals. You might decide to include one or the other, or both. Your choice may depend on the position, company or industry you’re applying for as well as the complexity of your past experience.
A resume objective might be useful if you have limited work experience, like recent high school or college graduates. A resume summary is more appropriate if you have some work history and various skills and experiences worth highlighting.
For example, a recent high school graduate applying for a nursing program may want to include a resume objective, while an experienced registered nurse should opt for a summary statement.
An objective statement for a recent graduate entering a nursing program might say:
While the nurse with experience could write a summary that states: As shown above, an objective statement will state what you hope to achieve while a summary statement will highlight your current accomplishments.
How to write a resume summary
To write a resume summary, take time to consider and record your most important experiences and skills. This can include (but is not limited to) items like certifications, soft skills, technical skills, awards or other achievements. Next, carefully review job descriptions for positions you’re interested in applying for and take note of the requirements that overlap with your own qualifications.
Then, put together a one to two sentence summary that briefly showcases those skills. Your statement should start with a key adjective for yourself, use the active voice and include key action words to describe your experience.
For example, your resume summary might state:
Here, the candidate describes themselves as “creative,” then goes on to state their years of experience and relevant technical skills.
Resume summary examples
Here are a few additional resume summary examples with different types of experience and qualifications. Use these as inspiration as you write your own summary statement:
- Self-motivated university graduate with a Bachelor’s of Arts in Secondary Education and critical experience in learning technology.
- Energetic community outreach manager experienced in creating and completing outreach programs in urban communities.
- Organized dental office associate with 7 years’ experience maintaining effective client schedules, billing policies, and office workflows.
- Well-spoken property manager with 3 years’ supervisory experience and Certified Property Manager credentials.
- Efficient, thoughtful writer with dozens of bylined works published in major print and online periodicals.