How to Write a Resume Summary [+ Examples]

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

A resume summary briefly explains who you are professionally. It can help recruiters or hiring managers quickly understand 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 delivers a concise story about your experience near the top of your resume. It's intended to help grab a recruiter's or hiring manager's attention and help them understand who you are as a candidate and what you have to offer.

Depending on your professional experience and career goals, a resume summary is only sometimes necessary, but adding one to your application materials may be beneficial. In this article, we’ll cover when to 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, synthesising 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 summarise your years of experience. 

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

  • Skills: Detail any important workplace and technical skills related to the job you are applying for.  


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

Licensed microbiology technologist with over five years of experience working at a major hospital lab. 

A successful certified financial planner with six years of experience consulting 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 prominent theme of your career.

You can also use a resume summary when you’ve held different jobs and want to connect those various choices to a more significant 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 outlines explicitly 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 information but states your more immediate career goals.


How long should a resume summary be?

The length of your resume summary will depend on the experience you have to convey and the page length you must work with. If you have just started your job search and have minimal experience, keep your resume to one page with a summary. But in general, a resume should be one or two pages, and a summary should be around two to five sentences.

Let’s look at two different examples in terms of length: 

  • Creative UX designer newly graduated. 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 in undertaking user research to understand user flow and end-user, creating wireframes and site maps to understand best practices, and conducting user tests, including A/B testing, to identify issues before launch. Organised and detail-oriented individual with experience working remotely.  

Where should a summary go on your resume? 

A summary appears on top of your resume, 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 following information and can help a recruiter get a better sense of your experience immediately.  

Resume summary 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 experience tackling that problem in the past.  

2. Highlight technical and workplace skills.

You’ll also want to peruse job descriptions and note any required workplace and technical skills so that 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 typically refer to the general skills you develop through work that make you a strong employee, such as communication, collaboration, and problem-solving.  

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 like 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 complete a Professional Certificate, you can add that detail to your resume summary.

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