Draw your readers in and leave them wanting more!
Every CV needs a great professional summary. But what exactly is it and how do you write one? This guide will give you the lowdown on how to go about it, along with 27 CV summary examples to cover pretty much every eventuality, across an array of industries and titles.
What is a professional summary?
A professional summary is an overview of your experience, qualifications, achievements, and skills that proves you're the right fit for the job. It's your first introduction to the hiring manager or recruiter, so it needs to hook them in, giving them a compelling reason to read the rest of your CV - and hopefully invite you to interview!
On average, a hiring manager will spend about 6 seconds on the first scan of your CV, so your summary needs to make an impact from the get-go. Therefore, it should contain your most compelling selling points, presented in alignment with the requirements of the role you're applying for.
Where should I place the professional summary?
The summary should be placed at the top of your CV, directly under your name and contact details, so it's the first thing a hiring manager reads. Remember, you need to grab attention from the start, so the most important information about you should be in the top third of the first page.
What should my professional summary look like?
Don't be tempted to write a long, detailed professional summary - it's called a summary for a reason! A solid wall of text, or several paragraphs, can be off-putting - especially when the recruiter is skimming through to get a flavour of the applicant before moving on to the next CV.
As a general guide, 4-6 sentences is plenty. A professional summary is usually no more than 100 words or 5-6 lines. Use a standard, sans-serif font - they're easiest to read on a screen, as well as looking clean and modern - and make sure the font size isn't uncomfortably small. You can bullet-point the summary if you prefer, but a short paragraph is more conventional.
Normally, a professional summary for a corporate role would be written in the silent third person e.g. “specialises in payroll administration.” If you find this style too awkward or impersonal, first-person summaries are increasingly accepted such as, “I specialise in payroll administration,” but they're not standard practice quite yet.
Top tip: Add a header - either “Professional Summary” or “Professional Profile” - in the same style as the other headers on your CV. Clear headers are important as they allow the ATS to categorise the information it receives.
How do I start writing a professional summary?
It helps if the rest of the CV is written before starting the summary. It may sound counterintuitive, as the summary goes at the beginning, but by writing the bulk of the CV first, you'll have spent time analysing your relevant skills, responsibilities, and achievements, so will have a better idea of where your strengths lie and what you want to emphasise.
Highlight key requirements from the job advert that are applicable. These are the points you want to use in your professional summary. It's a good idea to identify keywords from the job description and reflect these back in the summary. This makes it obvious that you meet the company's requirements and makes your CV easier to find in searches.
Top tip: Imagine you're recruiting for this role. What would you want to see in the summary? Aside from someone who ticks the boxes for performing the role, you'll be expecting a well-presented summary that is on-point, easy to read, and gives that little bit extra beyond the basics.
By this stage, you should have some coherent notes on the key points you want to include.
What should I include in my professional summary?
The job description should give you a good idea of what the company is looking for. You need to craft a professional summary that shows how YOU are the ideal candidate. Easier said than done, right?
Here are a few tips of what to include:
Your job title - if it aligns to the role you're applying for
The sector you work in
What you specialise in
Your unique selling point (USP)
Examples of recent key achievements
Skills you have that they need
The value you can offer to the company
How do I pull my professional summary together?
With a good idea of what to include and how your expertise fits into the role, you're ready to put pen to paper - or rather fingers to keyboard!
Form your notes into positive, concise sentences. Use keywords from the advert to pick out relevant, justifiable points from your career, combining them into compelling sentences that will impress a hiring manager. Play around with the wording, the examples, and the order until you're happy that you've perfected your elevator pitch.
Top tip: Show the end result to a trusted friend or colleague, alongside the job advert, and ask for constructive criticism.
Don't expect to get it right the first time - you may find that you come up with some knock-out phrases or sentences that you ultimately decide not to use. Store them away though, as they may come in handy for a later application. Remember, every summary should be tailored to the role you're applying for.
CV summary examples for multiple jobs
Here are 27 professional summaries, covering various roles and situations, that show how to do it right.
CV summary example for a mid-career professional
An ambitious Bodywork Technician, with a strong background in the motorsports sector. Possesses expertise ranging from severe crash repair to custom projects and fabrication of bespoke body parts. A respected and professional leader, able to manage and train teams to achieve improvements in performance and productivity. Confident when streamlining processes and developing systems that enable business growth, having overseen a 54% increase in repair volume over 8 months.
CV summary example for a DE&I Manager
An accomplished Diversity, Equality, and Inclusion Manager, able to develop innovative strategies and business plans. Enables businesses to achieve greater inclusion and diversity by influencing, engaging, and training stakeholders at all levels. Possesses proven success in facilitating long-term culture change across global businesses. Specialises in gender equality, neurodiversity, mental health, and LGBTQIA+ inclusion.
CV summary example for a Construction Manager
A motivational, adaptable, and determined Construction Manager who effectively combines robust planning and operational capabilities with the energy and drive to consistently deliver projects on time without compromising on quality. Fosters beneficial relationships due to highly developed communication qualities. Possesses over 19 years of experience inspecting and managing sites, and remains at ease handling projects valued at up to £5m.
CV summary example for a Healthcare Practitioner
A perceptive and resilient Healthcare Practitioner, passionate about delivering the highest standard of patient care while building cohesive teams using effective motivational qualities. 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 20 years of providing effective healthcare interventions across a diverse range of community settings.
CV summary example for a Doctor
A dedicated and compassionate GP with a commitment to the development and improvement of standards within medical practice. Demonstrates strong clinical skills, with the proven ability to assess and investigate patients' symptoms and make decisions on the most appropriate treatment. Trustworthy and diligent, possesses the drive to deliver the highest standard of patient care at all times. Combines a natural flair for working calmly under pressure with the motivational skills to ensure the team pulls together at all times.
CV summary example for a Marketing Associate
A creative and resourceful Marketing Associate, with multi-sector experience, who is adept at revitalising brands while increasing margins and maximising on profitability. Incorporates the full marketing mix, with expertise in traditional marketing, PR, digital, online marketing, social media, product marketing, and branding. Focused on client needs.
CV summary example for a Scientist
A highly motivated, productive Scientist working within chemical research and development at ABC Inc. Showcases a robust knowledge of the pharmaceutical aspects of the drug development process, from hit identification to process development and manufacture. Passionate about providing drugs that can improve the lives of patients. Adept at working to specific client deadlines by capitalising on impeccable planning skills.
CV summary example for a Customer Service Representative
A reliable, efficient, and enthusiastic Customer Service Representative who engages easily with the public while displaying acute attention to detail and organisational skills. Diligent and proactive, thrives in a team environment and adopts a hands-on approach when tackling set tasks. A fast learner with the flexibility to adapt to different circumstances.
CV summary example for an IT Specialist
A conscientious and meticulous IT Specialist, experienced in successfully infiltrating and adding new workstreams to IT infrastructure. With strong leadership and motivational qualities, is proficient at marrying business objectives with technical solutions to fulfil client requirements. A competent strategist, with established troubleshooting skills and an analytical mind.
CV summary example for a DevOps Engineer
A dependable, diligent, and analytical DevOps Engineer with expertise and in-depth knowledge of IT infrastructure and resolving support issues. Possesses a great aptitude for moving a project forward while remaining mindful of, and exceeding, client expectations. Quick to familiarise with the latest technology and industry developments while displaying innovative and creative solutions to arising issues.
CV summary example for an Office Manager
A structured, accomplished, and versatile Office Manager, expert at using a pragmatic manner to embed and implement strategies that meet corporate objectives. Takes a confident approach to all tasks, and is adept at maximising on efficiencies to achieve set goals. Excels when adapting to different environments and gains the confidence of colleagues and stakeholders alike. Showcases 20 years of experience supporting management teams within corporate and educational sectors.
CV summary example for a Personal Assistant
A supportive, proactive, and articulate Personal Assistant with outstanding administrative and organisational skills. Works effectively within a team, and well as independently, demonstrating the motivation and multi-tasking abilities required to meet demanding deadlines while maintaining the highest of standards. Bilingual and competent, exceeds expectations in an international environment while delivering under pressure.
CV summary example for a Project Manager
A focused, versatile, and collaborative Project Manager, with expertise in leading teams and improvement initiatives through the lifecycle of a business, from innovative start-ups to established organisations. Adept at spearheading teams of local and international staff by providing motivational goals. Encourages input from stakeholders, ensuring they are fully informed every step of the way.
CV summary example for a Business Analyst
A logical Business Analyst, quick to assimilate information accurately, excels when working in a structured project environment, and is adept at translating business requirements into technical formats. Possesses over 10 years of experience in analysis and design within financial services. Capitalises on self-taught qualities to drive forward on business aims and objectives.
CV summary example for an Accountant
A conscientious and tenacious Accountant with a flair for analysing pertinent data. Continuously strives for, and achieves, outstanding work with accurate attention to detail. Displays a logical and analytical approach to solving problems while performing well within a productive team environment.
CV summary example for a Teacher
An inspirational Teacher with 12 years of experience teaching Maths and PE, combined with extensive knowledge of supporting pupils with SEND. Demonstrable record of helping pupils progress and achieve their potential while simultaneously providing a positive learning experience for all, proven by SATs results improving by 45% in 2022/23.
CV summary example for a Restaurant Manager
An adaptable and innovative Restaurant Manager, with an extensive background in the hospitality sector. Passionate about delivering outstanding customer service while ensuring the achievement of corporate objectives. Proven record of running a successful restaurant, achieving a Michelin Star, while nurturing and growing revenue. Capitalises on international experience across China, the Middle East, and South America. Increased customer satisfaction from 41% to 79%.
CV summary example for a Residential Manager
A committed and focused Residential Manager in the healthcare management sector, with adaptable skills and a positive attitude. Consistently delivers on targets and KPIs, with the added emphasis on maintaining exceptional patient and family care. Constantly promoted throughout an impeccable 13-year career overseeing primary care services. Continually reflects on performance in order to improve.
CV summary example for a Waitress / Waiter
An experienced and personable Waitress with over 4 years of experience providing outstanding table service at prestigious establishments in London and York. Secured Employee of the Month 3 times within 9 months. Played a key role in customer satisfaction levels rising from 63% to 84% over a 12-month period.
CV summary example for a Journalist
A multi-faceted and tenacious Journalist with a natural flair for reacting quickly and accurately to breaking news stories. Possesses over 25 years of experience producing and presenting current affairs programmes, with 14 of those at the BBC. Adapts easily to shifting circumstances, showcasing advanced communication qualities along with the production of innovative ideas that has increased audiences threefold.
CV summary example for a Client Service Director
An award-winning, innovative, and credible Client Service Director with extensive experience dealing with global brands including Nestlé, Procter & Gamble, Unilever, McDonald's, Heineken, and BP. Showcases an exceptional ability to transform businesses into revenue-growing operations, proven by increasing growth by 32%. Combines a natural instinct for developing and expanding businesses along with the drive to deliver a clear vision on how to achieve outstanding client service.
CV summary example for a HR Generalist
A CIPD-qualified HR Generalist with a proven track record of designing and implementing highly effective HR strategies to drive process improvement and cultural change. Initiates employee engagement plans that reduce attrition by 74% and retain talent during periods of growth and downsizing. Key areas of expertise include leading negotiations with trade unions, establishing HR policies, and implementing robust training and coaching strategies to drive continuous improvement.
CV summary example for a Sales Associate
An articulate, persuasive, and personable Sales Associate with exemplary customer service skills and the enthusiasm to undertake challenges. Demonstrates advanced negotiation techniques, illustrated by securing £60,000 in revenue from a business project, winning it from a competitor.
CV summary example for an Architect
A creative and perceptive Architect with in-depth experience and knowledge of major design developments of neighbourhoods and mixed-use development. Prioritises elements that contribute to an improved quality of living while maintaining close attention to detail. Achieves a clear balance between commercial acumen and social / environmental responsibility. Offers over 20 years of experience heading up a multitude of high-end projects for urban development.
CV summary example for a Warehouse Operative
A conscientious and versatile Warehouse Operative, accomplished across the manufacturing environment, often exceeding set targets and deadlines. Thrives under pressure, with key assets of attention to detail and a robust work ethic. Works efficiently and accurately to clearly defined instructions.
How to write a CV summary with no experience
If you're entering the job market for the first time, or have limited experience, you may feel that none of this relates to you. Don't panic. You can still present a compelling professional summary that wins over recruiters.
Your CV doesn't need to focus solely on paid work experience. You almost certainly have experience from other parts of your life that you can draw on. Extracurricular clubs and activities, the Duke of Edinburgh award, voluntary work, pocket money jobs, school, or college responsibilities all count, because they'll have given you valuable employability skills. This is by no means an exhaustive list - there are many ways of developing skills. You just need to think about what you've done!
Use the CV summary example below for inspiration, but make sure you create an original that's as unique as you are.
CV summary example for Students
I am a mature GCSE student, with excellent communication and problem-solving skills, developed over time as a Student Mentor. My customer service skills have been invaluable when pet-sitting for neighbours - I've received great feedback and repeat business. I always aim to surpass expectations, making me an ideal representative for your business. I am ready to take on a new challenge and would love the chance to further enhance my skills.
How do you write a professional summary for a career change?
When you want to change direction in your career, it can be difficult to match previous experience to your desired position. In this case, it's best to focus on transferable skills in your summary, explaining how these will benefit the new company. You can also highlight your ability to consistently deliver results for a business, ensuring that your summary doesn't include any industry-specific terminology that could alienate your reader.
CV summary example for a career changer
A commercially astute leader, keen to transition from warehouse management to project management. Combines a natural aptitude for building relationships with a proven ability to control costs. Recently delivered a warehouse reconfiguration project within very demanding deadlines, with no negative impact on customer service. Currently working towards PMP certification.
Summary of key points
Your professional summary should:
Sit at the top of your CV
Have a clear heading
Be concise and to the point
Align with the job advert
Highlight your achievements and value
Include relevant keywords
Done well, your professional summary should grab the hiring manager's attention and persuade them to progress your application. If you want some constructive feedback on your professional summary, why not submit it for a free CV review?
This article was originally written by Jen David and has been updated by Elizabeth Openshaw.