Avoid these bloopers!
The CV summary should be akin to an elevator pitch. You've got a few vital seconds to make it count, so it needs to be succinct, packed full of relevant detail, and readable. By steering clear of detail that doesn't belong anywhere near a CV summary, you'll get off on the right foot straightaway.
What is a CV summary?
Situated right at the top of your CV, the professional summary on a CV, also known as the professional profile, is probably the most important part of the document, as it's the first section that a hiring manager will read. If they're not impressed with this, they're unlikely to read any further - so you've got to impress from the start and ensure it stands out from all the other applicants.
It's about choosing the most compelling words and engaging the reader from the outset.
The top five things to avoid
“Proven track record.” “Enthusiastic team player.” “Results-driven leader.”
These sorts of phrases have been done to death, so don't make the same mistake.
It's really tempting to litter your CV with well-worn phrases and obvious words. It's much quicker and, when you're in a rush to get the CV off for an application, you don't want to waste time and energy thinking up unique ways of explaining your skills and achievements.
Stop right there.
If you can't be bothered to get your CV right from the outset, what sort of message does that send to a prospective employer? It says, here's someone who's lazy. If you're shirking away from creating the best document that it can be, what sort of employee would you be? Not a very professional one!
So forget about finishing the latest series on Netflix and concentrate on getting your CV summary on point, by choosing appropriate words that sing your praises but that haven't been churned out a million times before.
2. Poor grammar and / or spelling mistakes
There's just no excuse for not checking through and reading your CV thoroughly before sending it off. If you're concerned that you won't pick up on errors, ask someone you trust to read it through as well. A fresh pair of eyes is always going to help. As well as using your spell check, click on the “read aloud” tab in Word for further scrutiny. Another, more quirky, idea is to read your CV backwards, as this will, hopefully, make those errors jump out at you screaming, “get me out of here.”
And that's not the kind that you want to smother in maple syrup or chocolate spread! No, waffle is words and sentences that have little meaning and don't allow the reader to reach any understanding of what you can offer, because you've filled the first third of the page with fluff. Any recruiter worth their salt will see straight through this.
4. Overlong sentences
You're not writing a novel. You're not even writing a pamphlet. Keep it short and sweet. And that's with regards to both the length of the CV summary itself, and each sentence within it. Stick to one strength within a sentence and don't try to link various assets in a long line. Four or five strong sentences, in a paragraph that highlights why you should be hired, will suffice.
5. Humour / trying to be too clever
Who doesn't enjoy a laugh? It makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. But that's not really the emotion that you want to project when phrasing your CV summary. Yes, your friends think you're a right laugh… down the pub on a Friday night. In a potential work situation however, you want to appear as professional as possible. Trying to be too clever or adding humorous touches to your CV summary just isn't going to work. Think about it from the recruiter's point of view. They don't know you from Adam, so your type of humour could completely miss the mark with them. And just before your CV hits the bin, it won't be you who's chuckling away.
Does a CV actually need a summary?
There are some schools of thought that dismiss the importance of a CV summary, indicating that they're usually full of empty buzzwords and that it's not necessary to summarise a document that's only one or two pages long.
But think of it this way. The title of a film has caught your eye. You're debating whether or not to go and see it. Do you sit through the whole two hours of the film to decide, or do you take the quicker route and watch the two minute trailer before making up your mind? It's a no brainer - trailer every time.
It's the same with a CV summary. You want to give it your best shot, you've got seven seconds, so you need a CV summary that will get you noticed by a busy hiring manager. One that hits the sweet spot and keeps you in the candidate pool. You achieve this by offering up a condensed view of your strengths, which are then expanded on throughout the rest of your CV.
How to write a summary for a CV
Now that you have some idea of what not to include, let's banish all of that negativity and focus on exactly what to include in your CV summary. It's all about capturing, and holding, the attention of the recruiter by giving them detail that's engaging, tailored to the role you're applying for, and informative. They really want to put you in the “yes” pile, so make sure that happens by crafting a CV summary that ticks all the right boxes and is one they won't forget… for all the right reasons.
Study the job advert, picking out keywords that you can incorporate into your CV summary so that it's customised to this particular role. Do this each time you apply for a different position.
Include your job title, as long as it's appropriate, as this shows your level of experience.
Showcase your strengths, in a confident and professional manner.
CV summary examples
Below are seven CV summary examples that are concise, well written, and professional, covering a range of different industries and levels. They'll give you an idea of what recruiters are looking for in a CV summary and provide guidance for you to be able to customise by inserting your own attributes.
Human Resources Group Director
A collaborative and strategic HR Director with expertise at the highest level of HR for numerous global and high profile companies. Pioneers and implements innovative HR solutions that consistently meet business objectives, while maintaining focus under pressure. Adept at planning and calmly steering teams to surpass expectations, while simultaneously achieving outstanding results and the effective resolution of cases.
Business Development Manager
A reliable, versatile, and articulate Business Development Manager with extensive experience and business success in EMEA markets, combined with the acumen to turn strategy into action and results. Equips businesses with the knowledge to deploy contractors around the world by providing them with vital information on international and offshore payroll, tax advice, global mobility, and background screening. Demonstrates a clear vision on how to achieve outstanding client service with maximum business efficiency.
An efficient Administrator with a diverse set of skills acquired during an impeccable career across multiple industries. Drives the achievement of demanding targets without compromising on service excellence. A polished communicator, who develops positive working relationships with customers, suppliers, colleagues, and senior management.
A perceptive, adaptable, and resilient Healthcare Practitioner, passionate about delivering the highest standard of patient care while building cohesive teams. Displays a calm and professional attitude during emergencies and flourishes in challenging environments. Encourages patients to self-manage their lives and wellbeing while having the confidence to reach out for help when needed. Offers over 10 years of experience providing effective healthcare interventions across a diverse range of community settings. Decisive when resolving arising problems, applying tenacity to achieve set goals.
IT Operations Engineer
A reliable and accomplished IT Operations Engineer who specialises in providing operational maintenance for IT infrastructures and essential data centre services. Keeps up-to-date with the latest technologies and industry developments. Showcases an analytical and logical approach to problem solving. Spearheads continuous improvement that optimises performance, streamlines processes, and enhances the productivity of 24/7 operations. Delivers hands-on technical support, administration, and maintenance of advanced infrastructure landscapes involving Windows Server, MS Exchange, and Active Directory.
A creative, resourceful, and accomplished Graphic Designer with an instinctive flair for accurately analysing the needs of the client and providing appropriate and effective artwork using a pragmatic and practical approach. Personable and dependable, delivers successful visual solutions time and time again. Offers a breadth of experience working for large publishing companies such as Time Warner UK, Nestlé UK, and Future Publishing, as well as smaller customer-facing high street design companies.
A flexible, organised, and meticulous Anthropology Graduate with a wealth of transferable skills acquired during recent studies and relevant work and voluntary experience. Passionate about environmental issues and adept at conducting research and compiling scientific and methodological reports. Capitalises on outstanding communication abilities to deliver engaging presentations, both independently and within a group. Thrives when working in conjunction with a dedicated team.
Boost your chances of landing an interview by following our tips on what to include, and not to include, in your CV summary. Still require help on how to write a summary for a CV? Get in touch by submitting your CV for a free review.