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Take a step into the world of creative writing and there’s one piece of advice that comes up time and time again. You have to start off with a hook to draw the reader in. Just as the name suggests, you need that juicy bit of bait to catch the reader and reel them in.
Writing a CV is exactly the same. You need an introduction that’ll make the hiring manager sit up straight in their chair and think “I want more”! That introduction is known as a CV summary and you’re about to learn how to write one that’s professional and compelling.
In this guide we’ll show you:
- How to master the art of writing a good CV summary.
- A simple formula that tells you exactly what to put in a CV summary.
- CV summary examples that you can adapt and make your own.
So now you’re hooked, let’s begin.
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You’re about to learn how to start off your CV. Here’s how to write the rest: How to Write a CV: Professional UK Examples
1. What Is a CV Summary?
A CV summary acts as the opening statement for your CV. It’s a brief introduction that tells the hiring manager who you are, what skills and strengths you have, and the professional experience that you possess.
It goes by many names, but they all mean the same thing. Here are some of the CV summary synonyms you might come across.
- CV personal statement
- CV personal profile
- CV personal summary
- CV professional summary
- CV summary statement
But as Shakespeare famously said ‘A rose by any other name…’.
So putting the Bard aside, why do you need a CV summary? The answer is simple, speed. Recruiters get flooded with applications for every job that gets posted. There’s so little time to read each one that it’s estimated they spend less than 30 seconds on each CV.
If you don’t grab their attention from the outset they’ll just toss it aside and move on to the next. So you need to come in strong and make the most of that brief window of attentiveness. First, let’s take a look at the basics of structuring your CV summary.
- Include your CV summary as the very first section, directly under your contact details.
- Keep it short and snappy. Don’t exceed 3–4 lines of space on your CV.
- For a heading, you can use CV Summary or any of the alternatives listed above. Or if you need to save page space you don’t need any section heading at all. Choose whatever you feel most comfortable with.
Now, let’s move to crafting the content of your CV summary.
Read more: CV Layout: How to Lay out a Professional CV
2. How to Write a CV Summary for Your Job
No matter what job you’re targeting, a CV summary can be written using the same simple formula. You just need to answer three questions.
- Who are you?
- What can you offer to the employer?
- What are your career goals?
Your answers will be different depending on how much experience you have. So if you’re targeting a job in a field where you do have some experience, do this:
- Create a master list of all your professional selling points. It should comprise all of the experience, skills and abilities you have that make you excel in your job and career sector.
- Then you need to target your CV summary to the job you’re applying for. Refer back to the job advert and analyse the job description, highlighting all of the skills and experience it demands and compiling these points into a separate list.
- Then find 3–4 points from the two lists that match, and use these to write a targeted CV summary.
If you’re a career changer or a new graduate or school-leaver with no experience, do this:
- Make a master list of your skills and experience. But also focus on your education and any other jobs you’ve had. Look for experience and skills that are transferable to the job you’re targeting.
- As with an experienced candidate, analyse the job description and create a separate list of what skills/experience is required. Then match 3–4 points from the lists to help craft your CV summary
And whether you’ve got years of experience or you’re just embarking on your career you should:
- Introduce yourself in the first sentence. Mention your job title and years of experience if applicable.
- Sell yourself to the employer with relevant skills and experience.
- Optimise your CV summary for ATS.
- Include your career goals. And—
- Never be generic. Recruiters can spot this from a mile off, so always write a CV summary targeted to the job in question.
CV Summary Keywords
There’s one aspect of writing a CV summary that’s worth examining in more detail. Pardon the bad joke, but keywords are key. CV keywords are words or phrases that describe desired experience, skills or traits.
Hiring managers and ATS software alike will scan your CV for set keywords that match what’s needed for the role. Leave out crucial keywords and you’re setting yourself up for rejection. Thankfully though, it’s easy to find the most important keywords in the job advert. Here’s an example for an estate agent.
Farnborough Estates seeks sales negotiator with 5+ years experience in luxury property sales. Must be skilled in sales progression and property valuation. Generous basic salary, company car and OTE of £40k plus.
Everything that’s highlighted is a keyword. As you can see, this includes the job title, the level of experience required and the required skills. Try to include these keywords in your CV summary so the recruiter can see at a glance that you’re qualified for the job.
But whatever you do, don’t just string together keywords and phrases and hope for the best. Make sure your CV summary remains grammatical and easy to read. Have a friend check your work or read your CV personal summary aloud to make sure it scans well.
So that’s the theory, let’s put it all into practice. The best way of learning how to write your CV summary section is to look at some CV summary examples.
Estate Agent CV Summary Sample
First up, a CV professional summary written by an experienced estate agent responding to the job advert example above.
Target-driven senior sales negotiator with 10 years experience in luxury home sales. Highly competent in sales progression using all avenues of communication to speed sales process. Accurate valuation skills and sales figures that consistently exceed targets by +15%. Aiming to continue delighting clients with high levels of service.
And to break it down:
- Professional title and experience mentioned in the first sentence.
- Leverages passion, dedication and specialised experience in luxury home sales.
- Closes by stating ongoing career goals.
- Uses keywords relating to skills, experience and job title.
- Answers all three questions in the CV summary formula.
Next, a graduate CV example, which takes a slightly different approach.
Graduate CV Professional Summary Example
Here’s a CV summary sample written by a new graduate applying for an entry-level data analyst role.
Recent Leicester University graduate with 2:1 honours Media and Communications BA. Have completed summer internships with Associated Press and Dentsu Aegis Network. Highly developed knowledge of academic theory and practical media industry experience. Seeking to launch career in the prestigious environment of The Financial Times.
And now to break it down:
- First sentence mentions graduate status, degree and honours classification in place of experience and job title.
- Sets out impressive achievements in the form of summer internships.
- Uses keywords relating to degree and industry specific experience.
- Finishes off with a goal that’s targeted to the specific job.
- Answers all three questions in the CV summary formula, but in a different way.
Read more: Graduate CV Example & Guide
Now let’s take a look at some other CV summary examples. Feel free to use them for inspiration, but remember to always find your own voice and write a CV summary that’s tailored to the job you’re applying for.
Customer Service CV Summary Sample
Highly detail-oriented customer service supervisor with 6+ years experience in high-volume multi-channel support roles. Diligent and composed with a commitment to resolving complaints at FPOC. Completely dedicated to delivering outstanding customer experiences and finding solutions to all problems. Seeking to continue to improve customer outcomes.
Read more: Customer Service CV Example & Guide
Sales Assistant CV Summary
Business-focused sales assistant with 4+ years of clothing retail experience. Strong focus on comprehensive product knowledge in order to offer customer-appropriate advice and maximise sales. Consistent record of target beating sales figures. Seeking a role in the women’s high street fashion sector to further grow my skills and experience.
Receptionist CV Profile Summary
Energetic corporate receptionist with 3+ years experience in front desk roles. Immaculate personal presentation with highly-skilled administrative skills and the ability to communicate effectively with a diverse range of clients and visitors. Looking to take on a role that will take my skills to the next level through new challenges and experiences.
Read more: Receptionist CV Example & Writing Guide
Waiter / Waitress CV Summary
Accomplished waitress with 4+ years experience in fine dining. Dedicated to delivering unique dining experiences through attentive customer service. Highly developed multi-tasking skills, excellent wine knowledge and a committed team player. Looking to further improve my skills in the fine dining sector.
Read more: Waiter / Waitress CV Example & Writing Guide
UI Developer CV Professional Summary Sample
Creative UI developer with 5+ years of experience in front-end web development. Implemented elements that increased conversion rate by 20% and resolved persistent issues reported by Firefox users. Seeking to use my dedication to delivering smooth and commercially focused user experiences to produce winning UI for Aleric Development.
Read more: Skills Based CV Example & Writing Guide
Graphic Designer CV Summary
Resourceful and inventive graphic designer with 5+ years’ experience in multimedia design. Passion for innovation combined with a client-driven approach. Accomplished collaborator with the ability to efficiently meld creative vision with practical implementation. Aiming to further my experience in web design in a cutting edge multimedia environment.
Read more: Graphic Designer CV Example & Writing Guide
Teaching Assistant CV Summary
Committed teaching assistant with 5+ years of experience supporting students with SEN. Dedicated to maximising outcomes by recognising the individual strengths of each student. Looking to expand my knowledge of specialist SEN teaching and help Northcote Primary maintain its reputation for excellence through diversity.
Support Worker CV Profile Summary Example
Patient and devoted care support worker with 7+ years experience providing care in the community to the aged. Specialist in ensuring clients can remain in their own home with a focus on assisting with adaptations and medical needs. Seeking to continue empowering independence in clients with warmth and empathy.
Read more: Support Worker CV Example & Writing Guide
Here’s how to write a CV summary:
- Keep it short and sweet. The right length is around four lines.
- Follow the formula. Explain who you are, what you can offer and what your goals are.
- Include keywords and beat the ATS.
- Tailor your CV summary to the job.
Thanks for reading. I hope I’ve covered everything you need to know about writing a professional summary for your CV. What did you think of the formula for creating a CV summary template? If there’s anything at all that you need to know about what to put in a CV summary then go ahead and ask in the comments section. I’ll be happy to help.