How to Write Your Professional Summary Section

A professional summary is a short paragraph at the top of a CV in which job applicants discuss their goals and give a brief overview of the qualifications that make them a uniquely suitable candidate for the position in question. Since the CV professional summary section is generally the first thing hiring managers see, its main purpose should be to make the applicant stand out from the competition. It should also be memorable and well-written so that it captures the interest of the people reading and makes them spend a little more time on the application than they otherwise might. Use this guide for assistance crafting a perfect summary for your CV.

Deciding Whether to Include a CV Professional Summary Section

Not every CV needs to include a summary section. Unlike job experience and education, the summary section is considered optional in many industries, and it can be included or left out at the discretion of the job applicant. However, a CV professional summary section is strongly encouraged when applying for a high-level position. When an applicant submits a CV for a job like this, the hiring manager is usually specifically focused on a track record of success in previous positions. A professional summary allows the applicant to highlight his or her achievements in a convenient location.

What to Include in the Summary Section

The main purpose of a CV professional summary statement is to clearly and succinctly explain why the hiring manager should choose you over other candidates. It is a chance to sell yourself and explain what makes you unique. In almost all cases, the professional summary should include information about your work background only. The summary should be written in complete sentences. It’s generally a good idea to use between three and five sentences, arranged to form a logical paragraph.

Things to Avoid in a Summary Section

Your professional summary is not the place to address things like gaps in employment, personal situations or career changes. These can all be included in your cover letter, which can be seen as an expanded version of the professional summary. Write the summary engagingly, but generally try to avoid gimmicks and hooks like rhetorical questions or an overly conversational style. Present the information in the summary clearly and professionally.

The Difference Between a Summary and an Objective

CV objectives are also often included at the top of the document. Though similar in appearance to a summary, they are actually not interchangeable. A CV objective outlines the direction you want your career to take, while a summary outlines where you have already been in your professional existence. In other words, an objective is about the future, while a summary is about the past. While both can be effective ways to start a CV, a professional summary is generally the better choice for workers who have been in a field for a while and have racked up some career achievements.

Professional Summary Examples

Here are two examples of professional summaries to help guide you in writing your own CV:

1) Versatile financial service professional with 10+ years of experience representing top companies. Areas of expertise include investment strategy, asset allocation and risk management. Possess excellent people skills that have helped maintain a client retention rate of more than 95 percent.

2) Experienced retail sales manager with more than five years of experience in service and sales. Developed sales strategies that raised customer retention by 20 percent. Experience in retail buying that resulted in a 10 percent uptick in sales over six months. Created several successful incentive programs that led to repeat customers and a higher average purchase amount from returning customers.

A CV professional summary section is a great way to let recruiters know what you are all about right up front. It gives them an idea of what to expect from your application so you are better able to connect with them as a potential employee.


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