Welcome to the first part of our huge resume guide. We’re going to show you how to begin your resume with a BANG! 

In other words, we’re going to teach you how to write an impressive professional summary section. It will help you grab the employer’s attention from the get-go and make them read the rest of your resume. 

This guide will show you:

  • What is a professional summary?
  • Why do you need it?
  • How to write a professional summary?
  • What to do when you don’t have any experience in the field.
  • What is a resume objective and resume profile?
  • Examples of professional summaries from real professionals.

Too long, don't wanna read?

What is a professional summary?

The professional summary section needs to be the first thing on your resume that an employer sees. Because of that, you want to place it at the top of the page, right under your name and contact information. 

The main purpose of a professional summary is to give the hiring manager a quick overview of your skills and achievements without having to dive into the rest of your resume. You can think of it as a teaser for the rest of your resume.

It’s usually about 4-5 bullet points long. It sums up your top skills, experiences, and achievements as they pertain to a job opening.

This section has many names. Some people call it a professional summary. Others know it as a resume summary, qualifications summary, or a resume statement.

But don’t mistake it for a resume objective or profile. We’ll discuss the differences later in this guide.

Why do you need a professional summary?

In short, it can help you get noticed faster. Many hiring managers have to go through dozens of resumes every day. In fact, they usually only give each resume about six seconds of their time. A good professional summary is something that will catch their attention from the get-go. And if it’s written well, it will compel them read the rest of the resume.

But not all candidates can benefit from having a professional summary on their resume. Who is it for, then?

Resume summaries are best suited for experienced job seekers who stayed in the same job for several years or held multiple roles in the same industry. In other words, a resume summary highlights specific past achievements and skills. It takes time to acquire them.

But what if you’re a student or afresh graduate? At the beginning of your career, you have yet to obtain professional experience. Or maybe you want to change careers and don’t have any relevant experience in the field to which you would like to switch?

In that case, go with a resume objective. Instead of previous experience, it highlights your skills and motivation. And you have plenty of that.

How to write a professional summary?

Think of your professional summary as ateaser for the rest of your resume. In other words, you want your professional summary to contain all the most exciting parts of your resume.

How do you do that?

  1. Write your professional summary last. It’s surprisingly easy once you’ve already written other sections of your resume. All you have to do is cherry-pick the most impressive facts and stats.
  2. Tailor it to a specific job opening. Star with the job listing that made you apply for the job. Carefully reread it and find the most important keywords. These are the nouns or phrases that best describe the job position, related skills, as well as the ideal candidate. Before you begin to write, think about how they intersect with your own skills and experiences. In this way, you also have a higher chance to get through the ATS systems which companies use.
  3. The first bullet point should describe your professional title. Don’t forget to add the number of years of experience. You want to communicate your professional identity immediately. You can also write it in bold. It can look something like this: “Certified Project Management Professional with over 4 years of experience”.
  4. Pick the 3-4 most impressive parts of your resume and reword them into snappy bullet points. Tease your potential employer into reading further. Did you win an award for the best customer service? Or hit 95 % of sales targets for five consecutive years? These are the things that deserve a mention at the top of your resume!
  5. Translate each achievement into numbers. Each bullet point should contain at least one piece of quantifiable data. Use percentages, numbers or impressive sales figures. It gives the hiring manager a better idea of how you performed in your previous jobs. Numbers attract attention. Take advantage of that.
  6. Sum up what you have to offer. Instead of saying what you want, keep in mind what they want. Make clear what value can you bring to the company. Look for common threads in your work history and for skills which apply most to the job.

How to write a resume summary if you're a fresh graduate?

If you’re a student or a fresh graduate, you probably don’t have much to brag about in your resume yet.

But that’s only true to some extent. Even as an entry-level candidate, you already have at least some experience and skills. You only have to find the right way articulate them and show how they pertain to the job you want.

What’s more, every other candidate for the position is probably as inexperienced as you are. After all, experienced professionals rarely apply for entry-level positions. Because of that, your primary goal is to stand out and make the employer remember you. And you can do that even if your experience is limited.

It’s not like you’ve just spent most of your life at school and learned nothing. You just need to understand how your studies intersect with the job’s requirements. But before you do that, begin your summary section by stating your field of study, degree, and GPA (if it’s above 3.0).

Once you’ve done that, think about your internships, part-time jobs, volunteer or freelance work, even your hobby projects. Look for anything that relates to the job you want, such as related coursework or school projects. Don’t forget to mention any relevant transferrable skills you’ve acquired while working on those projects.

Also, try to translate your most notable achievements into numbers. Maybe you were on the student council. You can mention how you received 2,300 votes and helped organize 5 large school events that were attended by 3,000 students.

DO

Hired by Bupa — Business Administration Intern

  • An adaptable and responsibel graduate seeking an entry-level position in the Business Analytics market, Business Consultancy or Financial market.
  • My double degree in Business and Law and my previous job as a financial controller have provided me with a well-rounded background and enabled me to develop an analytical/logical approach to tasks, software skills, and the ability to work under pressure.
  • In short, I am reliable, hard-working with strong attention to detail and eager to learn about new technologies and business issues. I am able to work well both on my own initiative an as part of a team as well as to travel abroad.

How to write it as an experienced professional?

If you have 10 years of professional experience under your belt, you’ve probably developed a long list of job-related accomplishments. Your resume summary is the ideal place to showcase the most impressive of them.

Carefully reread the job advertisement and highlight any skills you already possess. See if you can think of any past accomplishments that show how you successfully used those skills in your previous job.

Are you an experienced sales and customer service professional? Sell it. Mention how you developed strategies that resulted in an over 15 % increase in new customers. Or how your rewards program reached a customer success rate of over 45 %.

See? Numbers are much more persuasive than words. Also, remember to use action words and relevant keywords.

DO

HubSpot — Director of Business Development Resume Example

Passionate Business Amplifier.

  • Thrives in complex market segment entry and sales and marketing launch plans for technical products and services. Founder of highly-impactful "HubSpot for Veterans" initiative. 
  • Proven Growth Consultant and Entrepreneurial Coach for over 200 organizations. Advocate of lean startup and data-backed strategy. 
  • Leadership spans career with direct application towards startups, Techstar accelerators, corporate business development, and government. ROI-focused relationship builder.
  • Lifelong teacher and learner: Startup Institute, Techstarts, HubSpot Partner programs.

Empowering others is my jam. Discovery, curation and education are my tools. 

How to write a professional summary if you’re changing careers?

As a career changer, try to show how your past experience relates to the position you’re applying for or how it can help your future employer grow.

Are you a software developer who wants to work with a new programming language, let’s say Python? You can mention how you’ve already developed 7 mobile apps using JavaScript and HTML. Even something as small completing a Python online course on CodeAcademy can work wonders.

But if you still feel like you don’t have any relevant job experience, you consider writing a resume objective instead. Instead of past achievements and experiences, it highlights your transferrable skills and motivation. Moreover, it explains why you seek to switch to a different industry.

DO

Certified Human Resources Associate aiming to leverage an extensive background in experience in digital marketing to develop a career in human resources.

Knowledge of multiple HR software programs, such as Bamboo HR and Zenefits.

Results-oriented and self-driven professional with exceptional communication and leadership skills, and the ability to adapt quickly to change.

Looking for a human resources-related job within a company that offers flexibility and opportunity to grow both personally and professionally. 

What is a resume objective?

First of all, it's not the same thing as a resume summary. They share several common features but each serves a different purpose.

A resume objective also sits at the top of your resume. It’s a bit shorter than a resume summary — usually about one to two sentences long. The biggest difference is that instead of your past accomplishments, it details your future goals.

A resume objective might not help hiring managers decide whether you’re qualified enough to solve their company’s problems. On the other hand, it can help you shift their attention away from your lack of experience.

You should only go with a resume objective if you’re a student, fresh graduate or if you’re changing careers.

A resume objective can be really useful if you have no relevant experiences to speak of yet. It helps you explain why you’re qualified for the job despite lacking industry-relevant experience .

Is a resume objective more suitable for you? Learn how to write one here.

What is a resume profile?

A resume profile is a concise overview of your qualification for the job. It can include your goals, education, experience or skills, but also information like marital status, places lived and even children’s names and ages.

The intent of a profile is to provide a snapshot of the person’s life, not to persuade a recruiter to call for an interview.

The main difference between a professional summary and a profile is their purpose. A professional summary is constructed with a recruiter in mind and is designed to attract his or her attention. On the other hand, a profile briefly lists titles or positions held, which can serve as an introduction to prestigious roles the person occupied.

While the professional profile only mentions a single achievement, a resume summary highlights multiple quantifiable achievements. A profile contains fewer details about actual work experiences and more personal information which could be helpful.

Since it’s not necessarily targeting a specific position, a profile is great when uploading your resume to job search sites and networking resumes.

Pablo's magical tips and tricks

Hey there! This guide is super nice. There are just a few things that I, Pablo the Chameleon, would like to add. Here are my two cents: 

  1. Emphasize proven experience. Instead of simply listing your skills, mention your previous accomplishments. For example, it’s much more impactful to say that you had your articles published in the Forbes than plainly claim that you’re a skilled writer.
  2. Structure it well. Take it from a professional writer — bullet points are a godsend when you need to structure your text clearly without giving it too much effort. Not only will they naturally order your resume summary into clearly delineated logical parts, they will also make it look good and read well. Also, make sure to write your current job title in bold.
  3. 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. Don’t put there any random things. The key is to be specific.
  4. Read it after yourself. When you’re finished writing, read through your summary from the perspective of a hiring manager, asking “Why should we hire you?”.