How to Write a Resume Summary [+ Examples]

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

A resume summary is a brief explanation of who you are professionally. Discover how it can help recruiters or hiring managers quickly gain a sense of your experience and skills.

[Featured image] A woman, wearing a long-sleeved blue dress shirt, smiles while writing her resume summary on her laptop.

A resume summary is placed near the top of your resume and delivers a concise story about your experience. It's intended to help grab a recruiter or hiring manager's attention and help them gain a sense of who you are as a candidate and what you have to offer.

Depending on your professional experience and career goals, a resume summary isn't always necessary, but adding one to your application materials may be beneficial. In this article, we’ll cover when you should use a resume summary, what it should typically include, and examples you can follow to craft your own.

Resume summaries: Key facts 

Strong resume summaries tell a story, synthesizing in narrative form the experience and skills you detail elsewhere using bullet points. Generally, it’s a good idea to include information about your:

  • Experience: Lead with your most recent job title and summarize your years of experience. 

  • Impact: Include any major accomplishments and/or achievements, especially if you can quantify them.  

  • Skills: Detail any important workplace and technical skills that relate to the job to which you’re applying. 

Resume summary examples:

Senior project manager with eight years of experience successfully leading large teams and identifying opportunities to reduce overhead and costs. 

Licensed microbiology technologist with more than five years of experience working in a major hospital lab.


Successful certified financial planner with six years of experience consulting with clients, determining their long-term goals, and developing tailored plans to achieve results. 

Creative social media manager with four years of experience overseeing all major channels for a fintech start-up. Trained in Hootsuite, Buffer, and Google Trends. 

When should you use a resume summary? 

There is no strict rule about when to use a resume summary. Generally, it’s more common to include one when you’ve amassed some professional experience, say around three years, because it can help you outline the larger theme of your career.

You can also use a resume summary when you’ve held several different jobs and want to connect those various choices to a larger career path. 

If you’re looking for your first job or are a recent graduate, it may be preferable to use a resume objective, which includes a summary but also specifically outlines what you want to find in your next role. 

Resume summary vs. resume objective: What's the difference?

A resume summary is a synopsis of your career trajectory and accomplishments. A resume objective includes that same information but also states your more immediate career goals.


How long should a resume summary be?

The length of your resume summary will depend on the amount of experience you have to convey and kind of page length you have to work with. If you have less than 10 years of experience, keep your resume to one page and use a one to two sentence summary. If you have more than 10 years of experience, keep your resume to two pages and use a three to five sentence summary

Let’s look at two different examples of varying  lengths: 

  • Creative UX designer. Newly graduated and skilled in app and website development, including user research, wireframe and site map design, and A/B testing. 

  • Creative UX designer with 10 years of experience managing web-based projects, specifically apps and websites. Skilled at interpreting user research to understand both user flow and end-user preferences; creating wireframes and sitemaps to understand best practices; and conducting user tests, including A/B testing, to identify issues and repair before launch. Organized and detail-oriented individual with experience working remotely.  

Where should a summary go on your resume? 

A summary appears on the first page (if applicable) near the top, usually underneath the contact information you include as part of your header. It’s important to keep a summary as close to the top as possible because it sets the stage for the information that follows and can help a recruiter get a better sense of your experience right away.

Resume summary writing tips 

Use the following tips to craft an impactful summary that highlights your candidacy.

1. Align your summary with a company’s ideal candidate. 

Review job descriptions and note any language used to describe a company’s ideal candidate, especially regarding their responsibilities. If you have experience handling those tasks, highlight them in your summary. For example, if a company wants a candidate who can “identify new tools to streamline processes,” talk about your past experience tackling that problem.  

2. Highlight technical and workplace skills.

Scan job descriptions and note any required workplace and technical skills so you can address them in your summary. Technical skills are your expertise in working with specific tools or performing specific tasks related to a job. Workplace skills, such as communication, collaboration, and problem-solving, typically refer to the general skills you develop through work and make you a strong employee. 

3. Find adjectives to sell your skills.

A summary takes up valuable space on a resume, so choose your words carefully. You can find ways to add adjectives that qualify your experience and training. For example, instead of saying “Project manager with X years of experience,” you can describe yourself more specifically, saying, “Versatile project manager with X years of experience.”  

Explore further.

Strengthen your credentials and qualifications by earning a Professional Certificate from industry leaders such as Google, Meta, and IBM. Learn about growing areas like Project Management, UX Design, Data Science, Marketing Analytics, and Sales while developing job-ready skills for each type of profession. Plus, when you successfully complete a Professional Certificate, you can add that detail to your resume summary. 

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