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A clear professional summary sets your resume up for success–sounds pretty great right? It works because it immediately engages your audience and frames the story you want to tell.

Why Your Professional Summary Matters

A clearly written professional summary will allow prospective employers to get a general understanding of your professional trajectory, career accomplishments, and transferable experience. Taking the time to develop these details will help to ensure your resume doesn’t land in the discard pile on the first review.

What to Include in a Professional Summary

When possible, it’s best to include relevant quantitative information that provides the reader with a clear sense of the scope and impact of your work and professional experiences. This data draws the eye of a reader and is easy to comprehend, even if they’re only skimming. Here are some key examples of numerical data you might want to include:

  • Years of experience. Let your reader know immediately the amount of experience you have in your industry. As a resume writer, I typically recommend applicants cap their experience at 15+ years to avoid ageism in the job search. If you have less than five years of experience…
  • Professional wins. If you managed budgets, recruited staff, or contributed to an increase in company revenue, highlight that data in your summary.

Qualitative data can also be effective in demonstrating your professional value, such as:

  • Clientele. If you’ve worked with leaders in your industry, this will help showcase to employers your value in your field.
  • Sectors and industries. Having experience in many different areas can be a benefit, so be sure to incorporate that information into your summary.
What to Leave Out

Your professional summary is not a career objective. Avoid stating what you want, focusing instead on what you provide. Additionally, keep this section as succinct and clear as possible. This means leaving out filler words like “motivated” and “hard-working.”

How to Format Your Professional Summary

Your professional summary is your introduction to potential employers, so make sure to feature it prominently at the top of your resume. There are a few different ways you can format your professional section, including as a bulleted list or paragraph. In most cases, bullets are easier for a reader to scan, especially if your sentences are densely-pack with data and lists.

If your resume isn’t getting callbacks, try re-evaluating your summary with the above information in mind. A punchy and effective professional summary can set you apart from the crowd, engage your audience, and land you job interviews.

Andrea Gerson
Post by Andrea Gerson
September 4, 2020
Andrea Gerson is a social worker, career coach and workforce technology founder. Over the past 15 years, she's crafted impactful resumes for over 7,500 clients – many of who have gotten hired at organizations like Google, Apple, and the U.N. She's partnered with dozens of non-profit workforce agencies to lead staff trainings on topics like job search strategies, interview preparation and navigating workplace conflict. Andrea brings a strengths-based, client-centered perspective, and her work is an extension of her commitment to addressing the opportunity gap.