Aug 09 2022

How to Write a Good Professional Summary for a Resume

Adela Belin photo Adela Belin Content strategist and writer
Internships & Careers

Have you been sending your resume to several recruiters but rarely getting job interview invites?

Consistently applying for multiple jobs can be daunting if your efforts don’t pay. But here’s the thing: you’re not the only one applying for those jobs. There are probably hundreds of equally qualified and experienced college students competing for the same position.

So, how do you go past the shortlisting and land the opportunity to prove yourself through a job interview? Your professional resume summary.

Original: SourceThe resume summary section is the easiest way for recruiters to scan hundreds of resumes and decide who to invite for the interview.

What is a Professional Summary

A professional summary is a short pitch of 3-5 sentences that summarize your qualifications, experience, skills, and achievements pertaining to the job description. It usually stays on top of your resume, just after your personal details.

Since recruiters rarely have time to read resumes word-by-word, the only way to lure them is through your professional resume summary.

As a college student, this article will teach you how to write a good professional summary for a resume to get more job interview invites and increase your chances of landing your dream job.

1. Summarize your professional background

The most critical aspect recruiters want to get from your resume is your professional background. This will let them know whether your professional experience fits the candidate they want.

Your professional title should, therefore, should appear in the first line of your resume summary.

As a student, you’ll mention the profession you’re studying for and the accolades you expect to receive. This includes your Degree, your major, and the name of your college or University. If you have other previous educational attainments, mention the one you’re currently pursuing.

You’ll also mention any internships, volunteering, or part-time jobs you've done that are relevant to your profession. While at it, don’t forget to state the years of experience you’ve gained even as you continue studying.

2. Describe your strong character traits

Another critical aspect recruiters look for in a potential candidate is their character traits. Your character traits enable them to gauge whether you can fit into the company culture.

Recruiters know that your character will impact your job performance just as much as your skills and qualifications. They, therefore, scan resumes and pick candidates with strong personalities and traits that are likely to enhance performance for the specific job.

Some strong character traits that recruiters look for, which you can incorporate into your resume summary include:

  • Honest;
  • Ethical;
  • Keen to detail;
  • Accountable;
  • Passionate;
  • Problem solver;
  • Creative.

For instance, you can mention that you’re an honest, dependable, self-motivated finance student with a performance-driven attitude.

However, don’t just throw the traits in if they don’t honestly describe who you are. Your dishonesty will likely be detected at the interview and can lead to your disqualification.

3. Highlight your key achievements

Your key achievements in your field of study or work experience will also grab the recruiters' attention and get your name on the interview shortlist.

For instance, a student who highlights that they have worn an international award has a higher chance of being shortlisted than one who has none on their name.

While writing your resume summary, use one sentence to highlight your key achievements, whether in college or during your internship, volunteer, or part-time work.

Some key achievements to highlight in the professional resume summary include:

  • Projects completed;
  • The number of students trained or mentored;
  • Awards and accolades received;
  • Grants and scholarships won;
  • Professional trainings completed;
  • Licenses and certifications received;
  • Your published work.

Use numbers to quantify your achievements wherever possible since numbers tend to grab more attention than words.

For instance, you can mention that you’ve led a team of 500 students towards completing an award-winning community social project.

4. Showcase your value

For every job vacancy advertised, the employer states the job description, which highlights the roles the candidate will play when employed.

The job description is usually integrated with the company's vision and goals. Consequently, you'll want to mention how you can help your potential employer achieve their goals in your resume summary.

Employers will get more attracted to you if your summary is more about them and less about yourself. Instead of saying what you want, mention the unique skills and values you’d bring to the company.

The easiest way to do this is to identify the skills in your work or study history that match the ones in the job description. Echo the company’s goals and values in your summary so it can be evident that you’re both in coherence.

For instance, if part of the job description states that the company is looking for an accountant who can assist with financial forecasting and budgeting, mention that you have gained such skills during your internship and can efficiently help them with the task.

5. Use resume power words

A plain and boring resume summary is the easiest way to be ignored by a recruiter.

A summary clouded with cliché words and phrases will neither captivate the recruiters nor land you an interview invite. Needless to say, this should be the most outstanding part of your resume, and you don’t want to waste words here.

When writing your professional resume summary, incorporate power words and action verbs to highlight your strengths instead of old buzzwords like a team player, hardworking, determined, or responsible.

Use powerful words to grab attention fast and stand out from the large pool of applicants. Examples of power words you can use to highlight your strengths include:

  • Technically competent;
  • Excellent organizational skills;
  • Great interpersonal relations;
  • A critical thinker;
  • Effective communication skills;
  • Strong customer service skills;
  • Top-notch marketing skills.

Therefore, avoid sounding fluffy by saying:

I’m a determined and hardworking student who can perform well in a team environment.

Instead, you can say:

I’m a technically competent student who has acquired advanced marketing and customer service skills, which can help expand the company’s clientele base."

That sounds more convincing if you were the recruiter, right?

Here’s a video by Indeed that enlists words you should not use in resumes.


6. Customize to match the job description

Finally, you don’t want to use the same resume summary to apply for different job openings.

Customize to make it unique for every other job you apply for. This means that before you start writing the resume summary, go back and carefully read the job opening and mark the important keywords used by the potential employer—the nouns, verbs, and phrases used to describe the job roles.

Also, note the words they use to describe their ideal candidate and use them to describe yourself in your summary.

For instance, if they say that they’re looking for a result-oriented data analyst, go ahead and state that you are a results-oriented data analyst and have the relevant statistical techniques to analyze and interpret data trends.

5 Tips on Writing a Good Professional Resume Summary

Now you have a clear picture of what a good resume summary should look like to land you more interviews. Here are some more tips to help you polish it up and make it stand out from other resumes:

1. Write the summary last: It’s easier to write an outstanding summary after writing and customizing all the other sections of your resume. You only need to scan through and pick the most outstanding facts and accomplishments.

2. Keep it short and sweet: Remember you’re not writing an essay here. Therefore, be as specific as possible with what you highlight in your resume summary and keep it short and sweet. Keep it only 3-5 sentences long, and avoid fluffy words that add no value.

3. Use numbers: Numbers speak volumes, and that’s why you should use them to highlight your accomplishments wherever possible.

4. Stay honest: Don’t mention what you haven’t accomplished. Apply only for jobs you qualify for to keep you from the temptation of lying in your resume summary.

5. Proofread: Always proofread your summary to avoid grammar issues, spelling errors, and weird sentence structures.

Wrapping up

While you may have taken all your time and effort to put down a magnificent resume, your efforts may go unrewarded if you don't have a resume summary, or you have a shoddy one.

This is because most recruiters won’t read past the summary and if they do, they'll only take a second or two to scan through. Therefore, spend as much time to ace the summary and increase your chances of getting an interview invite.

As a college student, utilize the tips and tricks in this article to make your resume summary shine.

Wondering how to showcase yourself in the best light through your resume summary? Let our resume writers help you with it. We will understand your goals and ensure we write an original summary that matches the job description.

last edit at Sep 22 2022