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A professional summary is the first thing people are going to see on your resume. If you write it badly, it might also be the last thing.
Hiring managers are busy people. They read through hundreds of job applications every day. And as you probably suspect, it’s a tough and boring job. Your resume can easily get lost in the pile.
But not if you try to make their lives easier.
How do you do it then? You hook hiring managers right in—with a professional summary that provides the most important information from the get-go.
What’s more, most people don’t bother writing a professional summary. Which means that if you do, you’re going to stand out like swans amid a gaggle of geese.
This guide will show you:
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A professional summary is a list about 4-5 bullet points long. It summarizes your skills, experiences and achievements as they pertain to a job opening.
You can think of it as a teaser for the rest of your resume.
It has many names. Some people call it a professional summary. Others know it as a resume summary, qualifications summary, or a resume statement.
The main goal of a professional summary is to make your most important skills and experiences immediately noticeable to hiring managers.
And to make them read the rest of your resume.
The harsh reality is that hiring managers only spent an average of 6 seconds on each resume.
Moreover, these 6 seconds are really just that — an average.
When a hiring manager decides to read a resume to the very end, they spend much more time on it. Which means that, in reality, you have even less time to make an impression.
How do you ensure your resume doesn’t get discarded, then?
By putting a great resume summary at the top of the page, of course! This way you’ll catch the hiring manager’s attention from the get-go.
How do you make sure that your resume summary is actually good?
Let’s take a look. We’ve taken this professional summary from a real resume by a Sales Lead from AT&T:
See? This resume summary is almost impossible to skim without paying attention to what it says. Which means that it works as intended.
Why? Instead of telling hiring managers about what the candidate wants, it tells them what the candidate can bring to their company.
The form also plays a part. This professional summary is nicely organized into bullet points, quantifies achievements, it's packed with relevant keywords and has a really nice heading.
If you're not sure how to make your resume look nice, just use a resume builder. It'll do it for you.
But wait! A resume summary is NOT a resume objective, although people often confuse the two.
What is a resume objective then?
Let’s take a look at the resume objective that helped someone become a Server Manufacturing Supervisor at Google:
It’s quite okay, right? Still, it pales in comparison with the resume summary above.
Part of the reason is that it lists your goals, not your qualifications. Which is okay, but it doesn’t help hiring managers see if you’re qualified enough to solve their company’s problems.
For this reason, you should only go with a resume objective if you’re a student, fresh graduate or if you’re changing careers. It can be really useful if you have no relevant experiences to speak of yet.
Think of your professional summary as a teaser 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?
If you follow these steps, you’re going to get something like this:
Pretty good, right? Remember, we’re working with resume examples by real people here, so we have to make do with what we have. They’re good but yours could be even better.
But how is this professional summary a teaser? Take a look at the resume example below. It’s the one we used to make this professional summary.
See? We haven’t changed that much about what was already written in the employment history section of the resume.
These professional summary examples were written by real people who got hired at the world's top companies.
They're not exactly based on the how-to described above. At the same time, all these people scored high-profile jobs at their respective companies.
What I have to offer:
I have held responsible positions in a number of companies specialising in IT services as a systems administrator, tester and programmer. My practical experience includes systems administration, support, software development, testing, specifications, security policy and people management.
What I'm looking for — Is this you?
7+ years of Business Analyst and IT Consultant experience with extensive international experience. Possess Master’s Degree in Information Systems from the University of Economics in Prague.
Other qualifications include:
Currently seeking architecture and consulting roles requiring broad technical background and strengths in clear communication, organization and analysis.
Passionate, customer-focused leader with a demonstrated history of 5+ years of sales and marketing experience in technology.
History of building new territories, establishing and cultivating relationships to secure business commitments. Excellent communicator, with aptitude for identifying critical drivers and structuring solutions to gain revenue.
Currently in the IBM Hybrid Cloud Software Group serving as Digital Business Automation Specialist. I'm on the North American team, working with US customers in the Industrial and Distribution market. I have been helping businesses with process optimization and business management.
Looking to take on a role as an Account Executive.