Writing a Great Resume Summary (with Examples)

Dana Guterman
Published: April 7, 2020

Hiring managers read a lot of resumes, but they don’t have a lot of time. In fact, studies show that they spend an average of six seconds on each resume—so it’s important to highlight what makes you the best candidate ASAP. The best way to do that? Kick off your resume with a stellar resume summary.


What is a resume summary and why do you need one?

A resume summary is a short description at the beginning of your resume that highlights your best, most relevant qualities and accomplishments. It’s designed to grab the reader’s attention as quickly as possible.

Basically, it’s your elevator pitch put on paper. Whether you won an award, improved a business’ bottom line, or are known far and wide for your diplomatic communication skills, your resume summary puts that crucial information front and center. Sure, hiring managers spend just six seconds on each resume, but that’s not the full story: that’s how long they spend deciding whether to keep reading or not. A great resume summary spells out why you’re the perfect candidate right away, urging the reader to learn more.

You need a resume summary because:

  • It allows hiring managers to understand your best skills and qualifications quickly.
  • You can highlight your most relevant experience from the beginning.
  • It gives you an opportunity to integrate keywords from the job description.

A resume summary is generally formatted as a short paragraph. However, you can also use 3–4 brief bullet points. The important thing is to keep it brief. Nothing makes someone stop reading like a long, dense block of text.


Resume summaries vs. resume objectives

Chances are you’ve also heard of a resume objective, and now you’re wondering, “So … what’s the difference? And which one do I use?”

While a resume summary focuses on what you can offer an employer, a resume objective describes what type of job you’re seeking. You can read all about resume objectives here.

Both types of introductions provide a snapshot of what you can offer a company at the top of your resume. They encourage the hiring manager to keep reading. But a resume objective also tells the company what you want, offering a more balanced perspective.

Candidates with little experience or those switching careers can benefit from a resume objective. A resume objective explains what you’re looking for in your career. For those with ample experience, their work history already shows that, so an objective is redundant.

That being said, most employers prefer a resume summary to a resume objective. Resume summaries have grown increasingly popular specifically because they focus on the company’s needs—and, above all else, hiring managers want to know how you can help them.

So, how do you decide whether to use a resume objective versus a resume summary? Generally speaking, if your skills and experience make you a great fit for the internship or job to which you’re applying, then a resume summary is right for you. If it’s not totally clear how your experience aligns with the internship or job, go for a resume objective instead.

Ready to craft your own resume summary? Let’s get to it.


What to include in a resume summary

For those with little experience, the resume summary section can include a mix of hard and soft skills. Soft skills include communication, critical thinking, innovation, results-orientation, time management, and organization. If you have more experience, focus more on hard skills and outcomes (i.e., the numbers that prove you’ve had an impact).

When you write your own resume summary, consider including:

Write down absolutely everything that fits into the buckets above. Then, circle the ones that are most relevant to the specific internship or job to which you’re applying. This is what should go in your resume summary.

After all, the best resume summaries are tailored to each individual employer’s needs. For example, if an internship posting highlights organizational skills, SEO expertise, and knowledge of social media platforms, your resume summary should address your experience in those areas, like so:

Example 1: Marketing internship resume summary for a student

Meticulous and efficient rising Junior at ABC University with Moz SEO Essentials Certificate and experience with HootSuite. Track record of success in building brand visibility, driving site traffic, and increasing conversions. Grew social media presence for school club (27% increase in FB followers, 52% increase in Instagram followers) and improved web presence for local shop (new site led to 7% increase in in-store customers and 16% increase in online sales).


Additional resume summary examples

Here are some additional examples of strong resume summaries.

Example 2: Web developer resume summary

Web developer with customer-first mindset and experience working across departments and industries to develop digital platforms that build client base. Experienced in HTML, Java, SQLScript, Photoshop, and WordPress. with ability to design, build, and maintain websites, including debugging and testing. Designed and developed website for local candy company, leading to 25% increase in sales; improved security led to 46% decrease in hacking attacks and 15% performance improvement.

Example 3: Software developer internship resume summary

Ambitious and results-driven programmer with 3.9 GPA and passion for big data. Versatile team player with ability to distill complex ideas through clean solutions; initiated company-wide QC protocols that resulted in a 48% reduction of system failures from previous year. Experienced with multiple object-oriented programming languages (incl. Java, JavaScript, Python, and C++); detail-oriented, eager to learn, and calm under pressure.

Example 4: Entry-level accountant resume summary

Results-driven certified public accountant with proven success in recommending financial actions based on reviewing, analyzing, balancing, and reconciling accounts and financial statements. Previous client efforts in streamlining processes and mitigating errors led to $40,000 reduction in annual costs. Fast learner, proficient in QuickBooks and SAP.

Example 5: Engineering internship resume summary

Third-year engineering major with AutoCAD and Revit expertise. Experience supporting electrical and mechanical engineers to identify and repair issues + reviewing architectural and engineering plans for proper installation of systems, wiring, and duct work. Established peer editing system that decreased reported errors by 9% over previous year. Certified Entry-Level Python Programmer from OpenEDG Python Institute.

Example 6: Retail resume summary

Outgoing and results-driven sales associate, with expertise in training new employees, building long-term internal and external relationships, and resolving customer issues. Named “Employee of the Month” three times. Efficiency and customer focus led to 3% increase in sales during first year at previous position.


Other names for your resume summary

There are many names for a resume summary. Depending on your audience and individual preference, you might choose a different title. Other possible titles for your resume summary section include:

  • Summary of Qualifications
  • Career Summary
  • Personal Statement
  • Professional Summary
  • Summary Statement
  • Resume Highlights

Now, you have all the tools needed to write an amazing resume summary. It’s time to make your introduction count.