How to write a resumé summary (with examples)

How to write a resumé summary (with examples)
SEEK content teamupdated on 06 December, 2023

When applying for jobs, you’ll want to take every chance you have to stand out from the crowd. Adding a resumé summary to the top of your resumé can help interviewers get a quick snapshot of who you are and why you’d be great in their team. But what if you’re not sure how to write a resumé summary? 

In this article, you’ll find a step-by-step guide of what to include, what to leave out and how to nail your resumé summary so it lands you an interview.

What is a summary for a resumé?

A resumé summary is a short statement at the top of a resumé that outlines key experiences, roles and achievements. Its purpose is to highlight at a glance why you’re the ideal person for a specific job and what you bring to the table. 

It can often be confused with a career objective. What’s the difference between a career objective and a resumé summary? A career objective outlines the future you’re hoping to achieve, while a resumé summary is an overview of your career so far. 

Understanding your target audience

Before writing your resumé summary, you should first identify your target audience, i.e. who will be reading and vetting applications. Think about what role they’re likely in, such as team leader or HR manager. Then consider what they may be looking for and what would stand out to them. Then, tailor your resumé summary to suit. 

For example, if a job ad implies the application will be going to a manager of a team or department, they will likely be looking for skills and experience, in addition to teamwork and communication skills. Meanwhile a HR manager or recruitment agent might have a checklist of technical skills that directly relate to the job. 

Key elements of a professional summary for resumé

With your target audience in mind, it’s time to move onto the main elements of your resumé summary. Here are a few things to keep in mind: 

  • The length. Keep your professional summary short, clear and concise, ideally one to three sentences. 
  • The tone and style. The tone and style of your professional summary should be consistent and align with the rest of your application documents. 
  • The use of keywords. Your professional resumé summary should include keywords of the skills and experience you have that match those in the job ad. You can bold them to make them really stand out to the interviewer.
  • The structure. A resumé summary is typically one to three sentences outlining your key skills, experience and qualifications that align with the job ad. 

How to write a resumé summary

Here are some practical tips on how to write a resumé summary that will highlight your skills and catch the interviewer’s eye. 

  1. Start with a hook – a relevant qualification or unique skill – to capture the reader’s attention.
  2. Highlight your key skills and achievements, matching them to the job description.
  3. Include metrics or data-driven evidence of your accomplishments, such as percentage increases in performance, sales figures or the number of people you managed.
  4. Showcase your unique value proposition – what you believe you can offer that no one else can.
  5. Ensure you have proofread your summary so it’s free of spelling and grammatical errors.

Quick tip: Write your resumé summary in the first person (“I led a team of five” rather than “[Your name] led a team of five”.) In the rest of your resumé, omit pronouns altogether (“Led a team of five”. “Increased sales by 23%”.)

Writing a resumé summary with no experience

If you’re writing a resumé summary with no professional experience, you should focus on your soft skills and technical skills. You may have more than you think! 

Research the job you’re applying for and see what additional skills may help you, outside of what’s mentioned in the job ad. This could include things like computer proficiency, basic coding, customer service skills and more. Even if you’re still in school, you’ll likely still have teamwork and other soft skills you can mention. 

Resumé summary examples

To get you started, here are some resumé summary examples. Take note of the format: lead with the strongest statement, use specific data (where possible), include your most relevant skills, and be sure to personalise your summary before sending it to a potential employer.

Entry-level resumé summary ideal for a first job

I am a proactive and confident person looking for a casual customer- service position in Darwin. Through my studies I have developed strong communication and interpersonal skills. I am a people-person and eager to be in a role that allows me to help people every day.

Resumé summary for recent graduates

Data-focused computer science and business graduate with experience in app development and marketing. My first project app surpassed 2,000 downloads in 30 days, and I’m excited to build off this achievement and further develop my skills with a business that prioritises agile development and app innovation. 

Resumé summary for experienced applicant 

Accomplished in-house marketing director with a proven track record of executing successful results-driven campaign strategies. Have led multiple regional and global campaigns in my 12 years in the automotive industry. 

Tailoring your resumé summary to different industries

Resumé summaries can easily be adapted to suit any industry or job. It’s all about focusing on your key skills and what you can bring to the role. You can use these personal summary resumé examples as ideas for your own, swapping out the titles and experiences as you need.

Resumé summary for a teacher

Dedicated and passionate educator with over 5 years in early-years development, focused on fostering a positive and inclusive learning environment. Proven expertise in curriculum development and pioneering new teaching methods for students with learning challenges. 

Career summary for a tradesperson 

Multi-skilled tradesperson with 12 years of experience in carpentry, project management and commercial fit outs. I have completed more than 120 projects on time and on budget, have mentored several apprentices and have supervised teams on multiple job sites. 

Professional summary for a customer service person

I am a results-oriented customer service professional with more than three years in big box retail. Over the past year, I have been awarded staff member of the month twice, and have more than 20 mentions in Google reviews for providing outstanding customer support.

Tips for optimising your resumé summary for Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS)

Some organisations will use an ATS (or Applicant Tracking System) to help them manage the hiring process more efficiently. ATS software collects information from applications and filters them for the most relevant applicants. From there, employers will often take the filtered piles and begin their own screening. 

As a job applicant, you can optimise your resumé for ATS. Some tops ways to optimise your application include:

  • Use standard fonts (such as Arial) to ensure your resumé is easy for the software to read.
  • Use clean formatting with no charts, tables or graphics, as this may impair the ATS from properly reading your application.
  • Use an ATS-friendly template.
  • Include keywords in your resumé that match the job ad.
  • Stick to standard heading names, like Work Experience, Education and Skills to ensure your information is read correctly.
  • Proofread your resumé, as ATS may not be able to read typos, missing crucial information.

A business likely uses an ATS if its careers page has you fill out a series of forms, the job application has a long URL or it is a very large corporation. 

The dos and don'ts of resumé summary writing

By now, you should know the basics of writing your career summary, but these quick dos and don'ts of resumé writing can help make sure you get every detail right.

Best practices for writing a resumé summary

Writing a good resumé summary helps capture the attention of employers. Here are some best practices to keep in mind.

  • Keep it clear and concise. Only include your key skills, qualifications and experience.
  • Start with a strong statement. Your opening sentence should hook the reader by showing how you’re a good match for the role.
  • Quantify achievements. Use specific data, examples of how you have used your skills and knowledge, and what results you achieved.
  • Include keywords. The skills and experience in your career summary should reflect those mentioned in the job ad.

Most importantly, don’t overthink it. If you had to sum up your entire career in a sentence or two, what would you say? How would you highlight your skills and achievements? That should give you a good idea of what to write. 

Common mistakes to avoid when writing a resumé summary

Some top mistakes to avoid when writing a career summary for your resumé include:

  • Being too general. Your summary should be specific to your skills and how you’ve used them in the past.
  • Being too long. Remember: a resumé summary should only be one to three sentences long. It’s a summary, not a cover letter.
  • Lack of personalisation. Every resumé summary should be personalised to the job ad and industry.
  • Using exaggerated language. Avoid exaggerating your skills and accomplishments – you may need to qualify your skills in a job interview (and eventually in the job role).
  • Not proofreading. Mistakes in your resumé are the biggest giveaway that you lack attention to detail, so proof, proof and proof again!

Remember: your resumé summary is often the first impression a potential employer has of you, so it's crucial to make it impactful and tailored to the specific job you're applying for. With employers and hiring managers filtering through multiple resumés, a well-written resumé summary is the thing that could make you stand out.

The most effective resumé summaries should somewhat mirror the job ad, while highlighting specific career achievements and data that reinforce why you’re the perfect fit. It should also be free of errors, clearly formatted and optimised for ATS. If you’ve aligned your summary with the job ad, you’ve given yourself an even better chance of getting a callback.


What is the ideal length of a resumé summary?

The ideal resumé summary should be one to three sentences. It’s a snapshot of who you are and what you have to offer. Make sure to keep it concise, with only relevant information, enticing the employer to read your full application. 

Should I include my career objective in my resumé summary?

Adding a career objective to your resumé is a personal preference and is not required. But using an objective statement can help immediately draw attention to specific skills, experience or other credentials that will help you stand out from the crowd. It can also be beneficial if you need to address a career change, location change or gaps in your resumé.

How do I tailor my resumé summary to different job postings?

To tailor a resumé summary to different job postings, read the job ad carefully and review your resumé to ensure you are highlighting the desired skills and experience. These skills, qualifications and expertise should be front and centre, and quick to absorb for the reader. 

Can I use the same resumé summary for different job applications?

You should ideally have a different resumé summary for different job applications. Read the job ad carefully and align your skills and experience with the qualities they are looking for, to help you come across as the perfect candidate.

How do I make my resumé summary stand out from the competition?

Some top ways to help your resumé summary stand out from the competition include:

  • Personalise your summary to the job ad
  • Include impressive data
  • Match your skills and experience closely to those mentioned in the job description
  • Keep it concise – less than three sentences
  • Ensuring it is free of errors
More from this category: Resumes

Top search terms

Want to know what people are searching for on SEEK? Explore our top search terms to stay across industry trends.
Select an industry to uncover the top search terms

Subscribe to Career Advice

Get expert career advice delivered to your inbox.
You can cancel emails at any time. By clicking ‘subscribe’ you agree to SEEK’s Privacy Statement.