The Professional Summary for Resume

In recent years, the Resume Summary has emerged as a tool to both define the type of job you want and to summarize why you’re qualified for the job. Because the summary for resume serves both purposes, it is understandably longer than an Objective or Focus statement. If you use a Resume Summary, you won’t need a Focus statement.


resume summary

The following ingredients typically make up a Resume Summary:

  • Functional specialty or title: for example, accountant, regional manager, materials manager, or production planner.
  • Language skills or international business skills: for example, fluent in Spanish or familiar with Asian business protocol.
  • Expertise, strengths, or specialization: for example, delivered more than $10 million in cost reductions through introduction of just-in-time, stockless, and future-state inventory programs.
  • Number of years of industry experience: for example, insurance, finance, manufacturing, or agriculture.
  • Certification, graduate degree, or licensure: for example, MBA with strong finance and marketing skills.

You’ll find that this resume summary section can also be called any of the following:

  • Accomplishments
  • Background
  • Career Summary
  • Chronology
  • Features and Benefits
  • Highlights
  • Key Features
  • Keyword Summary
  • Professional Profile
  • Professional Qualifications
  • Qualifications
  • Representative Experiences
  • Skills Summary
  • Strengths
  • Summary of Qualifications
  • Title: your job title used as the heading.

Who should use a Resume Summary?

Individuals with at least five years of experience at their craft are better candidates for a Qualifications Summary. The five-year benchmark is not a hardand-fast rule. It’s just that after about five years in your field, you will have accumulated enough experience and accomplishments to warrant a synopsis of your career. You should also consider using a Resume Summary if the following are true:

  • You’re a professional or have broad experiences in your field. A Resume Summary will pull broad-based generalist skills into one easy-to-digest paragraph.
  • You’re qualified for the management or executive echelon. The sheer breadth of your experience demands a summary, just as a 200-page thesis calls for an introductory abstract.
  • Your resume will have to pass the rigors of computer scanning software or Internet search engines.
  • You are targeting a position that calls on experience found only in the early stages of your career. Mentioning earlier experiences in a Resume Summary will breathe new life into dated employment.
  • Your most impressive accomplishments won’t be seen until the latter part of the resume. In this case, a summary for resume will position the heart of your experience at the heart of the resume.

How to Write a summary for resume

Many resume professionals write their client’s qualifications section last because it is easier and faster to write after the resume has been composed. We agree that doing it in this order is easier and faster; however, if you’re an inexperienced writer who gets to practice your resume-writing skills only once every few years, it might not yield the results you intended.

Using a traditional chronological resume format as an example, if you were to write the Employment Experience section first, you would have a tendency to cover many areas, unrestrained and unfocused. Then, when it comes time to write the Qualifications section, you’ll find that your Experience section dictates the contents of your Qualifications Summary.

Resume Summary writing tips

Writing your Resume Summary first forces you to focus on your brand and the key points you plan to emphasize in your resume. The Qualifications section becomes a mini-outline for you to follow in creating the remainder of the resume; everything you write below the Qualifications will support what you’ve said in the summary.

This order mandates that you stay focused and not meander. Planning must be a deliberate prelude to writing. You must determine the shape of what is to come and pursue that shape.

In crafting your Resume Summary, consider these 12 ingredients:

  1. Title/functional area
  2. Subcategories of functional area or core competencies
  3. Industry
  4. Number of years of experience
  5. Expertise, strengths, specialization
  6. “Combination” accomplishment or highlights of accomplishments
  7. Advanced degree, certification, licenses
  8. Language skills, international business skills
  9. Technical/computer skills
  10. Personal profile/management style
  11. Affiliations
  12. Employers or colleges with name recognition

Resume summary examples

Following are four example summaries, each of which is formatted differently but consists of common elements. The superscript numbers in the summaries correspond to the 12 items in the preceding list and demonstrate how these ingredients can be rearranged.

1º Example Summary for Resume

7 APICS-certified with 4 20+ years’ experience in 3 ISO 9000 manufacturing and industrial food processing environments. 6 Delivered $17 million cost savings through 5 expertise in operational analysis, master production planning, quality/continual improvement processes, and integrated technology. 10 Commitment to partnering with 2 cross-functional teams, support staff, customers, and international suppliers has contributed significantly to successes.

The  ingredients used are as follows:

1) title/functional area
2) subcategories of functional area or core competencies
3) industry
4) number of years’ experience
5) expertise, strengths, specialization;
6) “combination” accomplishment
7) advanced degree, certification, licensure
10) personal profile/management style.

2º Example Summary for Resume

Emphasis in 3 Business Publishing / 2 Advertising / 2 Marketing

♦ Fast-track 4 17-year sales and management career in competitive industries and markets (3 publishing, computers, commercial real estate–California, Florida).
6 Earned distinction as #1 sales producer with each of my three career employers.
5 Especially adept at assembling, coaching, and motivating market-dominant sales teams.
8 International orientation: lived and worked five years in Tokyo; multilingual skills include fluent Spanish and conversational Japanese.

The  ingredients used are as follows:

1) title/functional area
2) subcategories of functional area or core competencies
3) industry
4) number of years of experience
5) expertise, strengths, specialization;
6) “combination” accomplishment or highlights of accomplishments
8) language skills, international business skills.

3º Example Summary for Resume

2 Marketing, Public Relations, Event Management, Volunteerism
Qualified for leadership positions where 5 business savvy, public relations talent, and development vision will be of value. 4 15-year career in nonprofit sector reflects an ability to 5 stretch limited operating funds, earn the loyalty of a tireless volunteer corps, and 6 strengthen donations when national averages depict a marked decline in giving.
Career Highlights:
6 Planned and managed the systems that enabled a long-term infusion of $5.6 million in fund development for one of the nation’s leading pediatric hospitals.
6 Tripled in-house volunteers to 250 through improved recruitment, training, and recognition programs.
6 Instrumental in focusing the energy of a volunteer corps numbering 1,400+ from 15 support guilds.
10 Committed to advancing community and business interests as reflected by honors/involvement as:
6 Professional Woman of the Year; Featured Speaker on Volunteerism, Regional Women’s Conference; 11 Past President of Volunteer Network; Board Member for five charitable organizations.

The  ingredients used are as follows:

1) title/functional area
2) subcategories of functional area or core competencies; 5) expertise, strengths, specialization
4) number of years of experience
5) expertise, strengths, specialization
6) accomplishment
10) personal profile/management style
11) affiliations

4º Example Summary for Resume

1 SALES CHALLENGE that will draw upon my 4 14-year career, which includes:
6 Consistent history of exceeding sales quotas for 12 Fortune 500 employers;
Top performer status among 17 regional sales representatives; and
Proven ability to 10/5 train inexperienced sales representatives to 6 perform in top 10% of sales force.

The  ingredients used are as follows:

1) title/functional area
4) number of years of experience
5) expertise, strengths, specialization
6) “combination” accomplishment. Later, highlights of accomplishments
10) personal profile/management style
12) impressive employers and schools with name recognition

 Create your own summary for resume

To help develop your summary for resume, we have repeated the 12-item ingredient list presented earlier, this time with room for you can view the summary formation from a few items given.

  • Title/functional area (example: International sales support)
  • Subcategories of functional area or core competencies (example: Export documentation, government relations)
  • Industry (Manufacturer of surveillance technology)
  • Number of years of experience (Seven)
  • Expertise, strengths, specialization (Internal communications with credit, production, engineering, manufacturing, and shipping to improve on-time shipment of orders)
  • “Combination” accomplishment or highlights of accomplishments (Led preliminary market research and coordinated opening of international sales office in Mexico City. Supported sales growth of 35%.)
  • Language skills, international business skills (Fluent in Spanish; serviced Central and South American customer base.)
  • Technical/computer skills (MS Office; WordPerfect; Access)
  • Personal profile/management style (Dedicated and loyal; five-year record of perfect attendance.)

This is the summary created from the items shown above:

Customer service professional with seven years of experience servicing international accounts in the United States and Latin America. Worked in tandem with marketing team to support a 35% increase in sales. Improved on-time shipment of orders through collaboration with credit, production, engineering, manufacturing, and shipping matrix. Well-versed in export documentation, international transport, and government export regulations. Fluent in Spanish language, culture, and business protocol.

Three keys to focus your resume summary

The length of the summary will be determined by your material. Note that some of the example Qualifications Summaries on the preceding pages contained as few as three sentences, whereas others warranted a full paragraph plus bulleted statements. You might find it helpful to focus your statement into a three-point theme:

  1. Experience: Number of years spent in your target industry, impressive employers, job titles relevant to your goal.
  2. Skills: Specific job functions, specialty areas of knowledge, advanced training, licensure, certification, language abilities.
  3. Proof of your ability to deliver: Preferably verifiable facts; consider combining career accomplishments. For example, the total dollar volume of new business you have developed over a seven-year career in sales.

Once you have completed your resume, your concise synopsis tells employers who you are and what you have to offer. Memorize your summary, because it will come in handy in networking and interviewing situations. You can also print an abbreviated summary on business cards for use in informal networking situations.