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Writing a Professional Summary in your CV or resume

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Writing a Professional Summary in your CV or resume

BY Skillset 03 Aug, 2022

A professional summary is an important part of any CV or resume. It is found at the top of your CV or resume after your contact information and before details about your work history.

What is a Professional Summary?

A Professional Summary – also sometimes called a Career Summary, a Personal Summary or Personal Profile – is a snapshot of the skills and experience you can offer an employer for a particular job. It is placed at the beginning of your CV or resume so the employer/hiring manager can quickly read it before reviewing the rest of your information. Given that most employers/hiring managers only scan a CV/resume for a few minutes, it is a fundamental part of your job application document.

What should a Professional Summary include?

The aim of a Professional Summary is to convey what is unique about your career in relation to the job you are applying for. It is essentially your sales pitch describing your work history, skills and achievements and should be no more than 3 to 5 sentences. Some people like to present this information as a paragraph but a series of bullet points can also be used – there are no fixed rules on this!

Importantly, your Professional Summary should contain keywords from the job advertisement and/or position description. This will be particularly valuable if the employer/hiring manager is using an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) which is software that sorts potential job candidates using specific key words. Applicants who don’t use keywords from the job advertisement or position description are less likely to be shortlisted by the ATS, whereas those who do increase their chances of being selected by the ATS for the next round of the recruitment process.

Should everyone use a Professional Summary in their CV/resume?

A Professional Summary works best for people who have some career experience as it succinctly condenses and focuses their work history and expertise in relation to the job they are applying for.

People who are starting their career or are returning to the workforce after a career break should still use the Professional Summary format to explain what they can offer to an employer. However, in these instances these job seekers should call this section a Personal Summary or Personal Profile, rather than a Professional Summary.

Other tips for writing your Professional Summary

  • As part of customising your CV/resume to each job you apply for, make sure you also tailor the Professional Summary to the specific job opportunity.
  • When writing the Professional Summary, consider the following:
    • Skills and expertise you can offer
    • The industry or sectors you have experience with
    • Any qualifications or training that are relevant to the role
    • Your years of experience
    • Notable achievements.
  • Some people find it easier to write the Professional Summary once they have written the rest of their CV/resume as they can assess which key points to highlight taking into account the job opportunity requirements and accountabilities.

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