How to Write an Executive Summary on Your Resume (With Tips)
By Indeed Editorial Team
Updated November 26, 2022
Published September 7, 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.
Many candidates use executive summaries to stand out and make their applications more competitive. A good executive summary ensures hiring managers notice all of your relevant qualifications or achievements. Understanding what an executive summary is and how to use it can improve the success rate of your applications. In this article, we discuss what an executive summary is and examine why you need one, explore what makes it different from a statement of objectives, and provide tips and examples of how to write an executive summary on a résumé.
What is an executive summary on a resume?
An executive summary on a résumé is a brief paragraph or list at the beginning of your résumé that summarizes your qualifications, skills, and achievements. It's also called a résumé profile or a résumé summary. It gives the hiring manager an understanding of your qualifications at a glance, describes why you're the right candidate for the role, and summarizes the rest of your resume.
Why do you need an executive summary?
The major benefit of an executive summary is that it makes your résumé unique. A well-written résumé shows your hiring manager your skills and qualifications at a glance. This can help you stand out, especially when the hiring manager has many résumés to go through. Most hiring managers spend just a few seconds on each résumé. Using an executive summary ensures they get all the information they need in that time and can even encourage them to read further. The executive summary helps align your résumé better with the job description.
Executive summary vs. objective statement
Candidates typically use either an executive summary or an objective statement at the beginning of their résumé. While they're both only a few lines long, they have different purposes. An objective statement allows you to describe your interest in a role to the hiring manager. It focuses more on your interests as a candidate. The executive summary explains what you can offer the employer by highlighting your relevant qualifications.
While both are useful, an executive summary does more to make your application competitive. An objective statement contains information the hiring manager already knows. An executive summary tells the hiring manager what you can offer their company. An objective statement might be easier to write, but writing an executive summary helps you understand your strengths better, which can be advantageous to career growth.
How to write an executive summary on your resume
Follow these steps to write an effective executive summary:
1. Understand your employer's needs
A good executive summary needs to be specific to your preferred role. To do that, you need to understand what the employer needs. This ensures that it impresses the hiring manager and you pass any screening by recruitment software. To understand the employer's needs, pay careful attention to the job description. The job description contains the details of what the hiring manager wants.
When reading the job description, take notice of the requirements for the position and highlight any that you have in your executive summary. You can also note the duties the role entails and highlight any relevant experience. This immediately shows the hiring manager you're familiar with the role and makes your application more competitive. Pay attention to keywords in the job description and repeat them in your executive summary.
2. List your relevant skills and achievements
Once you've understood what the hiring manager needs, you can list your skills and achievements. Prioritize them in order of relevance and ensure you include everything. You can write them down or even use an updated résumé as a reference. Then, carefully select the skills and achievements that are relevant to the role. If you have several skills and achievements, choose the most relevant or impressive ones. You need only two or three achievements and skills.
3. Write out your bullet points
The final step is to write your executive summary. While some people opt for paragraphs, bullet points make your summary easier to read for the hiring manager. Your bullet points can include:
This refers to the first bullet point or sentence in an executive summary. It summarizes who you are and what you do and includes your specialty or years of experience. Your pitch is important, because it's the first thing the hiring manager sees. It sets the tone for the rest of your executive summary.
Example: Certified marketing manager with six years of experience in corporate branding and digital marketing.
Your skills and achievements
The next part of your executive summary showcases your relevant skills and achievements. You can pick two or three of your most relevant skills. Remember that the goal is to show the hiring manager you're qualified. It helps to quantify your achievements and the impact they had. You can also incorporate your skills into your achievements to add more content.
Example: Collaborated with my team to launch a nationwide marketing campaign that increased sales by 18%.
You can include any other information you feel is impressive and makes your application more competitive. This can include awards, publications, or soft skills. You can also include your hobbies if they've helped you develop any skills you think apply to the position.
Example: Two-time winner of the Sally's Graphic Designing hackathon.
Tips for writing an executive summary
Here are some tips to help your executive summary stand out:
Quantify your achievements
The goal of your executive summary is to show the hiring manager why you're qualified at a glance. In addition, showing a hiring manager the results you've produced gives them a more accurate understanding of your abilities. A great way to do this is to quantify your impact. This involves communicating your results in a measurable way. You can do this by using figures or percentages. For example, rather than saying you launched a marketing campaign and improved sales, you can mention the percentage by which you improved sales and include how many people your marketing campaign reached.
Be clear and concise
Another tip to help you write an effective executive summary is to be clear and concise. You have only a few lines for your executive summary, so it's important to focus on relevant information. Use specific examples where possible and avoid clichés. You can also use action words, such as "initiated" or "designed."
You can find keywords that relate to the role by going through the job description. Including keywords helps your executive summary get noticed by the hiring manager. It also communicates that you're an attentive and thorough person, making your application even more impressive. The use of keywords also ensures you pass through the screening recruitment software. This is useful if you're applying to a large company or a company that receives many applications since they tend to rely heavily on recruitment software.
Personalize your summary
Usually, your hiring manager examines multiple applications for the same role. A great way to get noticed and be memorable is to personalize your summary and make it unique. Rather than writing a summary that can apply to anyone else in your field, add something that's unique to you. You can do this by focusing on your specific achievements or skills.
Editing your summary and the rest of your résumé can be just as important as writing it. A well-edited summary shows the hiring manager you're detail-oriented and meticulous. Ensure you check your spelling, particularly if there are any technical words. Crosscheck to ensure all sentences have a full stop and that all bullet points align. If the hiring manager has specified any formatting requirements, make sure you comply with all of them.
Here are some practical examples to guide you when writing your executive summary on your résumé:
A lawyer candidate might have a summary similar to this:
Corporate lawyer with 11 years of experience handling mergers, intellectual property agreements, and developing company policy.
Licensed to practice in all provinces with training in French civil law and English common law.
Oversaw and implemented a one billion dollar acquisition deal.
Two-time Wren Attorney of the Year award nominee.
A marketing manager candidate might have a summary similar to this:
Certified marketing manager with seven years of experience in digital marketing, corporate branding, and market research.
Grew company social media following by 200% and increased post engagements by 60%.
Managed a talented team of five marketers with various specializations.
Designed and implemented a marketing campaign that raised sales by 8%.
A data scientist candidate might have a summary similar to this:
Senior-level data scientist with five years of experience in data analytics and visualization.
Analyzed large data sets using several models, including the drift method.
Well-versed in using analytical software and spreadsheets.
Supervised a team of three data scientists for two years.
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