Ready for a challenge? Summarize your entire professional history in a few concise and impactful sentences.
Make sure to touch on everything that makes you a qualified candidate—your past experiences, your skills, your education, and all of those other qualities that should earn you a spot at the top of the resume pile.
This is your task every time you apply for a new job.
It’s called your summary statement (sometimes also referred to as a career summary, a summary of qualifications, or a professional summary), and it’s a resume section that trips nearly every job seeker up.
What is a Summary Statement?
Your summary statement is the block of text that appears at the top of your resume document—right underneath your header that includes your name and contact information.
Within this paragraph, you summarize those standout things about your qualifications that will inspire that hiring manager to move your resume to the “to be interviewed” pile (or, at the very least, keep you far away from the recycling bin).
You might be wondering how this differs from an objective statement—which shares your goals (or, well, your objective) in a new position.
In today’s job search landscape, a formal objective statement is considered an outdated tradition. In most cases, hiring managers and employers prefer to see a more detailed and informative summary section instead.
Why? Well, nearly every job seeker has the same objective—to land a job. So, by replacing that old standard with a summary section, hiring managers get more insight into who you are and what you bring to the table for their company.
How to Write a Summary Statement
While this statement is important, that doesn’t mean it’s easy to write. Needing to capture what makes you a qualified candidate in just a few sentences can actually be one of the toughest pieces of crafting your own resume.
Here are a few tips to help take some pain out of the process of writing your own summary statement.
Analyze the Job Description: Your goal is to present yourself as a no-brainer candidate for that particular job—meaning your summary statement will need to be tailored for each and every role you apply for. Your first step should be combing through that job description to pull out the key skills and competencies that position is seeking, so that you can include them within your own summary (as long as you’re honest, of course!).
Keep it Short: You know you’re the perfect choice for this open role, and you have a lot to say about why. But, no hiring manager is going to spend the time to read multiple paragraphs about why you’re a seamless fit. For that reason, aim to keep your summary statement short—under four sentences, to be exact.
Skip Buzzwords: You might be tempted to pad your summary statement with a bunch of buzzwords. But, you can bet that every other job seeker on the planet is claiming that they’re a skilled communicator, expert problem solver, or great with Microsoft Office. Skip those generic qualities and instead emphasize results you’ve achieved, highlight your accomplishments, and draw attention to the things that make you unique.
Write it Last: The summary statement is usually enough to stop most job seekers in their tracks. So, you might find it helpful to write it last. When you’ve already tweaked your entire resume for that specific job posting and have become intimately familiar with what that employer is looking for, it’ll be much easier to author a few relevant sentences that properly introduce you as a suitable candidate.
Summary Statement Examples
Nothing adds clarity like an example or two. If you’re still feeling stumped, take a look at the below sample summary statements to get your creative juices flowing. You’ll be ready to tackle your own in no time!
Self-motivated sales professional with three years of experience closing sales in a B2B software environment. Skilled relationship builder with the ability to foster and retain existing client relationships while forging new ones. Consistently ranked a top salesperson within the department by exceeding sales quotas each and every quarter.
Customer service representative with strengths in phone and chat support, as well as conflict resolution. Over 10 years of experience interfacing directly with customers to answer questions, address issues, and elevate the reputation of the company. Three-time recipient of the Blue Ribbon Award for Customer Service Excellence.
Experienced Content Manager with skills in planning out editorial calendars, editing content submissions, and using data trends to inform smart content decisions. Proven experience managing a team of writers and freelancers to produce high-quality content on a consistent schedule. Leveraged content to increase website traffic by 34% in previous role.
Writing a Summary Statement With Little to No Experience
Authoring your own summary statement is always challenging, but especially when you have little to no experience to showcase. Whether you’re new to the working world or are making a career change, it’s tough to know what to highlight when you feel like you’re short on qualifications.
Don’t get discouraged. Even though you feel a little insufficient, you still have plenty to offer a prospective employer. So, focus on what you do bring to the table—even if it’s a little less traditional.
For example, your experience coordinating and hosting various events on your college campus lays a great foundation for that event marketing role. Or, your previous roles in medical transcription armed you with plenty of skills—from speedy typing to attention to detail—that would make you qualified for a legal assistant position.
Get those negative thoughts out of your head and turn your attention to what makes you a qualified candidate—whether that includes unique skills, internships, or even volunteer work.
Over to You
Writing a resume summary statement can be intimidating. But, rest assured, it’s doable. Put these tips to work and use these examples as your inspiration, and you’re sure to author your own attention-grabbing statement.
Written by Kat Boogaard.