How Long Should a Resume Summary Be?

Crafting the Perfect Resume Summary: Master the Art of Making a Strong First Impression

Applying for a new job can be a daunting task, especially when it comes to writing an impactful resume. One of the most critical parts of your resume is the "Resume Summary."

But what exactly is a resume summary? It's a brief description at the top of your resume that highlights your skills, experience, and achievements relevant to the job you're applying for. It serves as your personal 'elevator pitch' to potential employers.

In this comprehensive guide, we're going to answer the frequently asked question - How long should a resume summary be?

Nate Djeric
| Resume Writer & Career Consultant
Resume Summary Statement


Crafting an effective resume summary requires thoughtful reflection on your most valuable skills and professional accomplishments.

It’s an essential tool to immediately grab the hiring manager’s attention and encourage them to read the rest of your resume.

Here are the key points we’ve covered:

  1. A resume summary is a brief overview of your professional qualifications and most relevant skills.
  2. The ideal length of a resume summary is 3 to 5 concise and well-crafted sentences.
  3. A compelling resume summary includes transferable skills, hard skills, soft skills, and quantifiable achievements.
  4. Customization is crucial. Always tailor your resume summary to each job application.
  5. To ensure your resume gets past the ATS, use relevant keywords, avoid complex formatting, and proofread carefully.
  6. Examples of effective resume summaries showcase a balance of skills, experiences, and achievements relevant to the job you’re applying for.

Understanding the Basics

A solid foundation in the basics is essential before diving into writing your resume summary statement.

It’s crucial to distinguish between a resume summary and a resume objective, and to understand where the resume summary fits into your resume.

Difference Between Resume Summary and Objective

Professional Resume Summary Vs Resume Objectives

While both the resume summary and the resume objective serve to introduce you to potential employers, they have distinct purposes and structures.

  1. Resume Summary: The resume summary, also known as the professional summary, offers a brief encapsulation of your professional qualifications and experiences. It’s intended for job seekers who have relevant experience in their field. The resume summary showcases your most valuable skills, in-depth knowledge, and impressive track record that makes you an ideal candidate for the job. It highlights what you can bring to the company right away.
  2. Resume Objective: On the other hand, the resume objective is more suitable for entry-level applicants, career changers, or those with less relevant experience. The resume objective focuses more on your career goals and explains why you’re interested in the specific role or industry. It shows hiring managers what you hope to achieve professionally and how you could grow within the company.

Where Does the Resume Summary Fit into Your Resume?

The positioning of your resume summary statement is just as important as the content itself. In the grand scheme of your resume, the resume summary sits right at the top, just after your contact information. This strategic placement ensures that it’s one of the first things a hiring manager reads.

Consider your resume summary as the opening act, setting the stage for the rest of your resume. This brief yet impactful section is your opportunity to hook the hiring manager with a concise overview of your professional qualifications and relevant skills.

By understanding the distinction between a resume summary and resume objective and the placement of the resume summary, you’re already on your way to making your resume stand out to hiring managers.

In the following sections, we’ll delve deeper into how to craft a compelling resume summary that aligns with your target job description.

The Ideal Length of a Resume Summary

Resume Summary Length

Crafting an effective resume summary involves balancing substance and brevity. It’s about conveying the breadth of your professional experiences and skills within a tight word count.

Recommended Length

Although there is no definitive rule, the ideal length for a resume summary is typically around 40-60 words or 3-5 sentences long.

This length allows you to provide enough detail to demonstrate your qualifications without overwhelming the hiring manager with information.

You’ll want to make every word count.

This isn’t the place to dive into extensive detail about your career history; instead, focus on summarizing your most relevant job experience and showcasing your most valuable skills.

It’s about making a strong, memorable impression in a succinct and focused manner.

Quality Over Quantity

Remember, when it comes to your resume summary, quality trumps quantity.

It’s better to write three powerful and tailored sentences than five vague and generic ones.

The key is to ensure each sentence adds value and ties back to the job description.

For example, if you’re a project manager applying for a senior role, instead of saying “Experienced project manager seeking an exciting role,” a more effective summary would be, “Project manager with 10+ years of experience in managing multimillion-dollar projects, with a proven track record in delivering projects on time and within budget.”

Your resume summary should serve as a highlight reel of your career thus far, providing the hiring manager with a snapshot of your professional accomplishments, your key skills, and the unique value you could bring to their company.

The aim is to capture their interest, encouraging them to read on and ultimately, invite you for a job interview.

Key Elements of an Effective Resume Summary

Summary Statement Examples

Your resume summary is your professional spotlight. It gives hiring managers an insight into your professional prowess and how it aligns with their organization’s needs.

To shine under this spotlight, ensure you showcase these three key elements in your resume summary: skills and competencies, quantifiable achievements, and relevance to the job applied for.

Skills and Competencies

Highlighting your skills and competencies in your resume summary provides a quick overview of your capabilities.

This includes transferable skills, hard skills, and soft skills.

  1. Transferable Skills: These are skills you’ve acquired during your life that can be used in a variety of roles. They can range from time management and problem-solving abilities to leadership and communication skills. For example, if you’re transitioning from a role as a project manager to a business analyst, your ability to manage timelines and stakeholder expectations would be considered a transferable skill.
  2. Hard Skills: Hard skills are the technical, job-specific skills you’ve gained through your work experience, education, or training. This could include proficiency in a specific software, fluency in a foreign language, or a certification in your industry. For example, a digital marketer might highlight their expertise in SEO, Google Analytics, or content creation.
  3. Soft Skills: Soft skills are interpersonal or people skills that can translate across various jobs or industries. These could include skills like teamwork, empathy, adaptability, or conflict resolution. In our current digital age, soft skills like emotional intelligence and ability to work with diverse teams are increasingly valued by employers.

Learn more about how to summarize your work experience on your resume here.

Quantifiable Achievements

Highlighting your quantifiable achievements gives hiring managers a measurable sense of what you could contribute to their team.

Instead of simply stating that you’re a “successful sales manager”, quantify it by saying, “successful sales manager who exceeded sales targets by 20% over the past five consecutive quarters.”

This way, you’re providing concrete evidence of your success, making your resume summary more compelling.

Relevance to the Job Applied For

Lastly, ensuring your resume summary aligns with the job you’re applying for shows the hiring manager you’ve read and understood the job description, and that you have the qualifications they’re seeking.

Tailor your resume summary to the specific role, focusing on the skills and experiences that are most relevant to the job description.

This will show potential employers that you’re not only a strong candidate but the right candidate for the job.

Writing a Compelling Resume Summary

Perfect Resume Summary Statement

Now that you know the components of an effective resume summary, it’s time to focus on how to write one that captivates hiring managers.

Here are some key strategies to consider: using keywords strategically, incorporating action verbs, and avoiding generic phrases.

Using Keywords Strategically

In today’s digital age, many companies use Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) to sift through resumes.

These systems scan your resume for relevant keywords from the job description.

Thus, incorporating these keywords into your resume summary can boost your chances of getting past these systems and grabbing the hiring manager’s attention.

For example, if the job posting repeatedly mentions “project management” and you possess these skills, ensure to include this term in your resume summary.

But remember, while keywords are important, they should be integrated naturally into your summary, not just randomly inserted.

Incorporating Action Verbs

Start your resume summary statements with action verbs to create impact and present a dynamic image of your professional self.

Instead of beginning with “responsible for,” use more powerful verbs such as “spearheaded,” “led,” “managed,” “drove,” or “orchestrated.”

This can make your achievements and skills stand out more prominently.

For example, “Managed a team of digital marketers to drive a 20% increase in web traffic over a 6-month period.”

Avoiding Generic Phrases

While it might be tempting to use phrases like “hard worker” or “team player,” these are so widely used that they’ve become clichés and don’t tell the hiring manager much about you. Instead, provide specific examples that illustrate these attributes.

Instead of saying you’re a “hard worker,” you might say, “Consistently met sales targets and worked extra hours to ensure project completion.”

This shows you’re hard-working without directly stating it.

With strategic use of keywords, dynamic action verbs, and specific, illustrative language, your resume summary can become a powerful tool in showcasing your professional identity and catching the eye of hiring managers.

Tailoring Your Resume Summary for Each Job Application

To maximize the impact of your resume summary, it’s crucial to adapt it to each job application.

This section will discuss the importance of this customization and offer tips on how to tailor your summary effectively.

The Importance of Customization

Customization is a fundamental aspect of an effective job search strategy.

By tailoring your resume summary to each job you apply for, you’re demonstrating that you’ve taken the time to understand the job description and the needs of the company.

This can make you stand out from job seekers who send the same resume summary to every job application.

Customizing your resume summary also helps you align your qualifications with the specific requirements of the job.

This can significantly boost your chances of getting selected for an interview, as hiring managers can see at a glance how well you fit their needs.

How to Tailor Your Summary

Here are some steps to tailor your resume summary effectively:

  1. Review the Job Description: This is your main source of information about what the employer is seeking. Look for keywords related to required skills, experiences, and qualifications, and try to incorporate them into your resume summary.
  2. Highlight Your Relevant Skills: From your pool of skills, emphasize those that are most relevant to the job description in your resume summary. For example, if the job requires project management skills and you have extensive experience in this area, make sure this is reflected in your summary.
  3. Demonstrate Your Value: Show how you can contribute to the company. If the job description emphasizes improving efficiency, highlight a past achievement where you increased efficiency.
  4. Keep the Company Culture in Mind: If possible, research the company’s culture and values. Try to reflect these in your summary, as this can show hiring managers that you’d be a good cultural fit.

Remember, your resume summary should be a concise, compelling snapshot of who you are as a professional.

By tailoring it to each job application, you can make a strong case for why you’re the ideal candidate for the role.

Getting Past the Applicant Tracking System (ATS)

To ensure your resume reaches the hiring manager’s desk, it’s crucial to understand the role of Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) in the recruitment process and how to make your resume ATS-friendly.

Understanding ATS

An Applicant Tracking System is a software tool that many employers use to streamline the recruitment process.

It automates the initial screening of resumes, saving recruiters valuable time by filtering out those that don’t meet the job’s basic qualifications.

ATS scans resumes for relevant keywords and phrases that align with the job description.

It then ranks applicants based on how closely they match the job criteria.

If your resume doesn’t contain enough relevant keywords, it may not get past this automated system, regardless of your qualifications.

Making Your Resume ATS-Friendly

Making your resume ATS-friendly is essential to ensure it doesn’t get overlooked.

Here’s how you can optimize your resume for ATS:

  1. Use Relevant Keywords: Incorporate keywords from the job description into your resume summary and other parts of your resume. This might include specific skills, qualifications, or job titles.
  2. Avoid Fancy Formatting: Keep your resume format simple. ATS may struggle to read unusual fonts, graphics, or complex layouts. Use standard fonts like Arial, Calibri, or Times New Roman, and keep your layout straightforward.
  3. Don’t Hide Keywords in Images or Headers: ATS can’t read images and often ignores headers and footers. Make sure your keywords are in the main body of your resume.
  4. Use Standard Section Headings: Stick with standard section headings like “Experience,” “Skills,” and “Education,” as ATS recognizes these.
  5. Proofread: Spelling and grammatical errors can cause ATS to miss keywords. Always proofread your resume before submitting it.

Remember, while ATS optimization is essential, your ultimate goal is to impress the hiring manager, not the ATS.

Strive for a balance between a resume that’s both ATS-friendly and engaging to human readers.

Examples of Effective Resume Summaries

Professional Resume Summary Examples

Let’s examine a few examples of effective resume summaries across various jobs and industries.

We’ll provide a brief analysis of each to help you understand why they work.

Examples for Different Jobs and Industries

  1. Project Manager: “Results-oriented Project Manager with over 7 years of experience coordinating complex projects, leading diverse teams, and achieving project goals on time and within budget. Proven track record in implementing innovative project management tools to streamline processes and increase efficiency. Skilled at communicating with stakeholders at all levels to ensure project success.”
  2. Digital Marketer: “Dynamic Digital Marketer with 5 years’ experience in driving brand growth through innovative digital marketing strategies. Expert in SEO, content creation, and Google Analytics, with a proven track record of increasing web traffic by over 20%. Committed to staying up-to-date with emerging trends to drive future success.”
  3. Administrative Assistant: “Dedicated Administrative Assistant with extensive experience in performing high-level administrative tasks. Excellent communication skills and ability to prioritize tasks effectively in a timely manner. Demonstrated expertise in business process ordering and proven ability to handle multiple tasks simultaneously with precision.”

Analysis of Each Example

  1. Project Manager: This resume summary is effective because it highlights both the hard skills (coordinating complex projects, implementing project management tools) and soft skills (leading diverse teams, communicating with stakeholders) required in project management. It also showcases quantifiable achievements (achieving project goals on time and within budget).
  2. Digital Marketer: This summary effectively highlights key skills (SEO, content creation, Google Analytics), and provides a quantifiable achievement (increasing web traffic by over 20%). It also shows an understanding of the importance of staying up-to-date in the fast-paced digital marketing industry.
  3. Administrative Assistant: This summary emphasizes the candidate’s ability to handle important administrative tasks and their exceptional communication skills. The statement about handling multiple tasks simultaneously shows they can thrive in a busy work environment, a critical attribute for an Administrative Assistant.

These examples illustrate how you can craft a compelling resume summary that clearly communicates your unique value proposition to potential employers.

Remember to tailor your summary to the specific job you’re applying for, highlighting the most relevant skills, experiences, and achievements.

Can I write a resume summary in the first person?

While some job seekers may choose to write their resume summaries in the first person, it’s generally more professional to write in the third person. Avoid using pronouns (I, my, me) and begin your statements directly with action verbs. For example, instead of saying “I am a project manager with a proven track record…”, you could say “Project Manager with a proven track record…”.

Can I use the same resume summary for multiple job applications?

It’s crucial to tailor your resume summary to each job application. While you may have a general framework or template for your summary, you should always customize it to align with the specific requirements and keywords in each job description. This shows potential employers that you have a deep understanding of the role and are uniquely qualified for it.

How can I make my resume summary ATS-friendly?

To make your resume summary ATS-friendly, include relevant keywords from the job description, avoid complex formatting, and proofread carefully to eliminate any typos or errors. Our professional writing services can help you create an ATS-friendly resume summary that also appeals to human readers.

What’s the difference between a resume summary and a resume objective?

A resume summary provides a brief overview of your professional qualifications and most relevant skills. It’s typically used by job seekers with some level of experience. A resume objective, on the other hand, outlines your career goals and is often used by entry-level job seekers or those changing careers.

How can I showcase my achievements in my resume summary without sounding boastful?

It’s important to be factual and specific when describing your achievements. Instead of using generic phrases like “experienced professional”, quantify your achievements where possible, such as “Increased sales by 20% over six months”. This way, you’re demonstrating your value with clear, tangible results. Our professional writers can help you strike the right balance in showcasing your achievements effectively.


We hope this guide has given you a clearer understanding of how to write a compelling resume summary.

With careful thought, self-reflection, and strategic use of language, you can create a resume summary that truly shines.

Remember, your resume summary isn’t just a list of your skills or experiences; it’s a showcase of your professional identity.

It’s your first chance to make a strong impression on hiring managers, so make it count. Be authentic, be strategic, and above all, be confident in the value you bring.

Good luck on your job search! We’re rooting for you.

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Professional Summary

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