Guide To Writing an Effective CV Summary (With Examples)
By Indeed Editorial Team
Updated 19 January 2023
Published 4 October 2021
The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.
A CV summary is a two to three-sentence introduction to your employment history at the top of your CV to highlight your most valuable skills and experience. This summary helps recruiters quickly identify if you're the right fit for the job. Knowing how to develop an effective summary section can help you make a lasting impression and convince them that you're qualified to do the job well. In this article, we discuss what a CV summary is, why it's important, how to write a good summary that can impress a recruiter and provide examples of well-written CV summaries.
What is a CV summary?
A CV summary (also called a professional summary or career summary) is a brief description of your experience, qualities and skills. Although employers rarely make it a requirement, including this element allows you to highlight your strongest assets right away and get the attention of whoever is reading through your CV. Typically, candidates who include summaries on their CVs place them at the top of the page, just under their name and contact information. This way, the summary is one of the first things that the recruiter looks at and gives them a general idea of what they can expect from you.
Why is it important to include a CV summary?
Including a CV summary is a great opportunity to consider the company you're applying to and highlight role-specific skills that the recruiter is looking for in an ideal candidate. Here's how a professional summary can help you during recruitment:
Allows you to use job keywords
Using keywords to describe your experience is one of the best ways to make your application more attractive for applicant tracking systems (ATS), which are programs that many companies use to collect and filter through CVs. To decide which keywords may be the most effective for your recruitment, consider going through the job description several times. This is the simplest way to identify which verbs and adjectives the employer uses to describe job duties and requirements.
If you have extensive experience and have accomplished a lot in your field, it may take a recruiter more time to get through all the information. A professional CV summary section helps you reduce its complexity and increase readability by highlighting the most relevant information earlier. It may also encourage the recruiter to give your application more attention if the summary highlights what they're looking for in a candidate.
Focus on your skills and experience
It's typical for recruiters to spend only a few moments looking at one CV before deciding if they'd be interested in learning more about the applicant during a job interview. A well-written and concise professional CV summary may help you quickly get their attention. It's also a great way to make a good first impression because many recruiters appreciate it when applicants include summaries on their CVs as they review your paperwork.
How to write an effective CV summary
Knowing the essential steps to write an effective and professional CV summary can help you develop your career summary section in less time. Here are four steps you can consider:
1. Consider your most important achievements and skills
Making a list of your professional accomplishments and key skills that can help you succeed in the role you're applying for is the first step to developing a successful career CV summary. The list may consist of your certifications, soft and technical skills, awards or important projects you've helped develop. Looking back at your career history through those accomplishments is a great way to boost your confidence and prepare for a job interview, so you may even consider using that list again while preparing for a meeting with the recruiter.
Related: 10 best skills to include on a CV
2. Carefully read through the job description
Carefully reviewing the description of the role for which you want to apply helps you identify if there are any requirements that overlap with your qualifications. Typically, they are critical during recruitment and make recruiters want to get to know you and your experience during an official interview. Mentioning the specific descriptions in the first sentence of the CV summary shows your ability to prepare for the role and your commitment to getting the job.
3. Limit your summary to a few sentences
Most candidates limit their CV summaries to two to three sentences. This is because the main purpose of the summary is to convince the recruiter to read the rest of your CV. To make the section even more concise, consider leaving out the pronoun 'I' so the CV summary reads like this:
'Creative illustrator with five years of experience working with top brands in the automotive and lifestyle industries.'
4. Draft several versions of your summary
Getting to the point when you're fully satisfied with your CV summary and consider it a perfect description of your career may take a few tries. Creating several drafts of it is a great exercise that allows you to see which action verbs and achievements may make the best impression on the recruiter. You may even consider showing your drafts to your former employer or supervisor and asking them to objectively choose which draft is the best representation of your candidate profile.
Examples of good CV summaries
Here are a few popular types of professional summaries that can inspire you to develop a unique CV summary for your job application:
Business CV summary
Here are some good career summary examples that you can use as inspiration if you're applying for a business-oriented role:
Well-spoken and energetic outreach manager experienced in working in urban communities, implementing management solutions and developing relationships with media and community members.
Solutions-driven business analyst with over five years of experience working with e-commerce retailers. Seeking opportunities to use analytical and management skills to develop cost-effective solutions.
Accurate and reliable finance manager with over 15 years of experience leading accounting and financial departments in the IT sector. Adept at managing financial teams, overseeing budget allocations and conducting financial forecasts.
Customer service CV summary
Consider using these examples if you're interested in applying for a role in customer service:
Resourceful and friendly problem-solver with 12 years of experience in providing exceptional customer service to premium retail customers. Committed to achieving company goals while helping all customers make satisfactory purchasing decisions.
Tactful and resourceful customer service professional with over three years of experience selling furniture and homeware products.
Self-motivated e-commerce customer service representative experienced in helping customers navigate websites and resolving product issues. Received 98% positive ratings from customers in 2020 and became the company's top representative that year.
Marketing CV summary
These example summaries may make you inspired if you're applying for a job in marketing or a related field:
Data-driven community growth manager with over four years of experience specialising in researching, implementing and tracking social media campaigns with excellent knowledge of online marketing and social analytics.
Ambitious and data-oriented marketing and communications graduate with over two years of volunteering experience delivering successful campaigns for the university's website that resulted in a 200% increase in social media engagement. Seeking an opportunity to test strong organisational and marketing skills to help a company increase reach within the IT and tech sectors.
Self-driven marketing professional experienced in supporting marketing executives by conducting market research and creating content campaigns. Recognised for the ability to produce high-quality video content and use digital tools to increase online community engagement.
Additional tips for creating a CV summary
These additional tips can help you polish your CV summary and ensure its readability:
Use numbers whenever possible. Using numbers quantifies your accomplishments and shows tangible results of your efforts in the workplace. It can also attract the attention of whoever is reading through your CV because numbers are often more stimulating and authoritative to readers.
Say how you can help the employer. Identifying what the employer needs from you and explaining how your skills can help them achieve that can help you introduce yourself as a self-aware and dedicated applicant. Provide information regarding goals you can achieve and consider using action verbs to make the CV summary more dynamic.
Mention your current job title. When an experienced recruiter sees your job title, it's likely that they automatically know what key competencies they may expect to see on your CV. It's also a sign that you're a confident candidate who's both proud of their career history and ambitious to aim for more.
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