That career objective at the top of your resume was really totally useless and so passé. Now you should have a summary statement, which is way more helpful.

What exactly is a summary statement? It’s a few short lines that go at the top of your resume and makes it easy for the hiring manager to quickly understand your experience and qualifications. Basically, it gives the highlights of what you bring to the table.

It sounds simple in theory. But when you sit down to actually pull one together, you’ll quickly realize that outlining your skills, experience, and ambitions into a few short sentences is way easier said than done.

Fortunately, a little inspiration can get your creative juices flowing and hopefully keep you from staring at that menacing, blinking text cursor for a half hour.

If you’re stuck on whether or not to write one, ask yourself this: is this adding value or is it simply restating things that are said elsewhere on your resume?

Your summary statement is included directly at the top of your resume under your contact information. So don’t forget its primary purpose: to introduce you to the hiring manager.

Summary statements can be more impactful for certain types of candidates. For example, if you have years of professional history, several different work experiences that need to be tied together, or an untraditional background that could warrant some explanation, a summary statement can help you set the scene.

Your summary should say exactly what you have done for the job you are applying for.

To make a solid introduction, you need to plainly state what you do without any vague terms or clever phrasing. Are you a software engineer? Say that. A customer support specialist? Use those exact words.

It might seem basic, but explicitly spelling out your job title gives some important context as the hiring manager reviews your history and other qualifications. Plus, it helps them more readily understand what position you’re applying for, just in case your resume gets bounced around or separated from your application.


Tailor Your Summary to the Job Description

We know you’ve heard the classic “tailor your resume” advice before, but it’s repeated for a good reason: it’s important.

Your resume summary is one area that you should be prepared to tweak and rewrite with every single new job you apply for. Review the job description and pay close attention to certain skills or responsibilities the employer emphasizes, which you should add to your summary statement.

Get Specific

To make the most of your summary statement, you need to go beyond buzzwords and resume fluff and provide tangible, impressive qualifications and experiences.

That could mean quantifying your accomplishments where you can—whether that’s your years of experience or an aggressive target you met in a previous position.

Even if you can’t include numbers, skip the generalities and get specific with the value you have to offer. Have you worked with Fortune 500 companies? Are you a whiz with a certain type of industry software? Those could deserve a mention in your summary.

You might find it helpful to sit down and brainstorm a long list of your experiences and accomplishments before trying to write your summary. Whenever you apply for a new job, you can sort through your list and pull out the ones that are most relevant to that specific position. Plus, it’s a solid confidence booster.

Keep It Short

Your resume summary statement should pack a punch without a lot of wordiness. Remember, it’s a statement and not a full-blown career memoir, so you need to keep it short.

Try to stay as close to five sentences as possible. Any longer than that and you’ll likely lose the interest of the hiring manager before they’ve even made it to your skills or professional history.

Example of a Mid-Level Summary

Experienced recruiter with four years of experience in successfully identifying and attracting top talent for diverse organizations. Proficient with full-cycle recruitment, from sourcing and screening candidates to conducting interviews and negotiating offers. Strong interpersonal and communication skills, combined with a data-driven approach to optimize recruitment processes and shorten time-to-hire by 20%.

Example of Making a Career Change Summary

Content marketing professional with three years of experience, now transitioning into the user experience field. Strong background in data-driven decision making, content strategy and design, and customer engagement. Dedicated to leveraging unique skills and non-traditional experiences to create user-centered digital experiences that drive business growth.

If you’re really struggling, ask yourself this: If you could only tell the hiring manager three to five things about yourself, what would they be? Those belong in your summary statement.

I am a champion in writing summary statements.
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