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by Andrew Fennell | June 18, 2024


In the competitive job market, making a strong first impression is crucial. One of the most effective ways to do this is through a compelling personal summary at the top of your resume. A personal summary, also known as a resume summary, is a brief statement that highlights your key skills, experiences, and career goals. It serves as a snapshot of your professional identity, giving employers a quick overview of who you are and what you bring to the table.

A well-crafted summary not only grabs recruiters’ attention but also sets the tone for the rest of your resume. Here are six actionable tips for making your summary stand out.

1. Tailor your summary to each job

Customize your resume summary for each job application. Carefully read the job description and identify the key skills and experiences the employer is looking for. Then, highlight these in your summary. This shows that you’ve taken the time to understand the role and align your qualifications with the employer’s needs. For example, if a job posting emphasizes teamwork and project management, ensure these qualities are prominent in your summary.

2. Showcase specific achievements

Rather than just listing your skills, provide specific examples of your achievements. Quantify these achievements wherever possible. For example, instead of writing, “Experienced in social media marketing,” you could write, “Increased social media engagement by 50% through strategic content creation and audience targeting.” This helps demonstrate your impact and value to potential employers.

3. Highlight transferable skills

Include skills that are important to target employers, even if they come from different experiences. Many skills are transferable across various roles and industries. Identify these skills in your summary to show your versatility. For example, communication, leadership, and problem-solving are valuable in many fields. Highlighting these can make you a more attractive candidate.

4. Use dynamic and specific language

Action verbs and strong adjectives can make your summary more dynamic and engaging. Words like “led,” “developed,” “managed,” and “innovative” help convey your proactive and results-oriented nature. Avoid generic phrases and be specific about what you’ve accomplished. For example, “Developed a new project management system that improved team efficiency by 30%” is more impactful than simply stating, “Project management skills.”

5. Show the benefits you bring to employers

Your personal summary should not only highlight your skills and achievements but also explain how they benefit potential employers. Think about what makes you unique and how your experiences can add value to the company. For example, “Passionate about using data analysis to drive business decisions, leading to more informed and strategic company growth.” This approach helps employers see the direct benefits of hiring you.

6. Be specific

Avoid generic statements that could apply to anyone. Be specific about your skills and experiences to stand out. While it’s important to use industry-relevant terms, avoid overloading your summary with jargon that might confuse the reader. Employers are more interested in what you’ve achieved rather than just what you were responsible for. Highlight the impact of your specific actions to show your genuine interest and fit for the position.

Andrew Fennell is the founder and director of StandOut CV, a leading CV builder and careers advice website. He is a former recruitment consultant and contributes careers advice to publications like Business Insider, The Guardian, and The Independent.