A curriculum vitae (CV) summary is a short description at the beginning of your CV that highlights your professional skills and experience. It gives employers an overview of your expertise before they read the rest of your CV. It can also help employers quickly determine whether you have the background and skills they require.
In this article, we discuss what is a CV summary, the benefits of including one and how to writea CV summary with examples.
What is a CV summary?
A CV summary, also referred to as a summary statement or professional summary, is a one or two sentence paragraph at the top of your CV. It acts as a teaser of what's to come on your resume. Since it's often the first thing that catches a recruiter's eye, this bit of prime real estate is where you establish what sets you apart from other candidates.
Another way to think about a CV summary is as an answer to the common interview question, "How would you describe your work experience in one sentence?" This question might be difficult to answer for leaders with a long list of achievements. That's why it is so important to be able to immediately highlight the most relevant points with the help of a CV summary.
When to include a CV summary
You can add a CV summary if you have over three years of professional experience. The achievements you have gained in that time allow you to create an impactful and effective statement. If you have less than three years of experience or are in the middle of switching careers, a CV objective might be a better option.
Read more: 6 Universal Rules for Writing Your CV
Benefits of a CV summary statement
As a job seeker, you must tailor your resume to suit the industry, company and role you are applying for. This rule also applies to your CV summary. It's a good practice that will help you appear to be within the target group of candidates.
Here's a look at the benefits of including a CV summary:
Get noticed immediately
Before a hiring manager commits their time to reading your entire CV, they will probably first scan your profile for keywords that match their job requirements. This means that your most relevant skills and experience should be easy to find. A strong CV summary at the top of your CV can increase the likelihood of them noticing what you have to offer from the start.
Showcase your experience and skills earlier
A well-written CV is clear and easy to read. If you have extensive experience, your CV may seem complex or bulky. A summary section can help reduce the complexity for professionals who have a wide variety of experience to the most important and relevant points. Not to mention, as humans, our attention spans are quite short, so small bite sized bits of information are always easier for recruiters to process.
Capture relevant keywords
Recruiters receive large volumes of CVs everyday. To help them file through each application, some companies use automated softwares to identify keywords that match their job descriptions. A CV summary maximises your chances of being selected because you can optimise it to ensure your profile gets to the top of a recruiter's list.
Before writing a resume, it is essential that you review the job advertisement and organisational mission to determine these keywords. Look for the years of experience, specific qualifications and soft skills needed to perform well at the job. Highlight this information in your CV summary to help you stand out as the ideal candidate.
What is the difference between a CV summary and objective?
A CV summary is an introduction to the skills and experience you have gained during the tenure of your career. Whereas, a CV objective is a short statement about your career goals for the future. You may choose to include either or both, depending on the role you are applying for.
A CV objective might be more appropriate if you have little to no work experience. Fresh graduate or job seekers looking to change careers may opt for this alternative. A candidate with more experience on the other hand, may choose to stick to a CV summary to emphasise how their results and recognitions make them a good fit for the job.
For example, take a look at this example of a CV objective for a young graduate in the accounting field:
"Motivated accounting student seeking to gain more experience with accounting and financial software."
While a more experience professional may prefer a CV summary like in this example:
"Results-driven senior CPA with over 7 years of experience. Seeking to utilise proven skills in account reconciliation."
In summary, a CV objective states what you seek to achieve while a CV summary highlights your current achievements.
How to write an effective CV summary
Follow the six steps below to learn how to write an effective CV summary:
1. Write your CV summary last
Once you have written your entire resume, you will have a clearer picture of what you should highlight in your CV summary. All you have to do is to pick out the most impressive stats and facts.
2. Tailor your CV summary to a specific job opening
Review the job description carefully for relevant keywords. Incorporate the phrases used to describe the skills and qualifications that represent their ideal candidate. Think about how they relate back to your own experience. Use this technique to position yourself as the front-runner for an interview.
3. Describe your profession
Briefly, provide some background to your professional title. Include the sum of your years of experience with any relevant qualifications, such as "Certified Public Accountant with over five years of experience."
4. Tease the employer into reading further
Pick three of the most impressive qualities about your resume to convince potential employers to read it in more detail. For example, if you won any professional awards worth mentioning, feature them in your CV summary.
5. Quantify your accomplishments
Include at least one statistic that represents your success in your CV summary. You can use numbers, percentages or impressive sales figures. Data is a good indicator of your performance at a job. It cuts down wordy explanations and communicates your accomplishments in a matter of seconds.
"Well-organised and driven e-commerce executive with 6+ years of experience. Passionate about improving new business and coming up with effective marketing strategies. Seeks to increase and redefine HK Inc.'s KPIs. At KH Limited, increased revenue by 50%, boosted ROI by 70%, reduced annual costs by 40%. At HKUK Company expanded businesses by 70%."
6. Sum up what you can offer
Show your potential employer that it is you that they want. Clearly state what value you can bring to the company. Try to look for commonalities in your work experience and what the company needs.
Motivated and inspired chef with over 15 years of experience in fine-dining and casual restaurants. Dedicated to delighting customers and increasing kitchen efficiencies while continually improving culinary expertise.
CV summary examples
Here are more CV summary examples that you can use as inspiration for your own:
- "Dynamic community outreach manager experienced in implementing outreach programmes in urban communities."
- "Organised dental office assistant with six years of experience maintaining office workflows, billing policies and client schedules."
- "Vigilant security guard with over four years of experience ensuring property and public safety by proactively addressing security threats while exemplifying integrity and professionalism."
- "Client-oriented full sales cycle SMB Account Manager with three years of experience increasing sales, meeting quotas and building strong relationships with high-profile clients."
- "Customer support professional dedicated to balancing business goals while helping all clients find satisfactory solutions."
- "Well-spoken, Certified Property Manager with four years of managerial experience."
- "Friendly and detailed hair stylist with 4+ years of experience delighting customers with consistent, beautiful results. Pays close attention to specific requests, builds strong relationships and drives salon sales."
- "Motivated teaching assistant with over four years of experience collaborating with lead teachers to support the educational needs of the students."