Write your powerful CV summary
Your CV summary is definitely the most important section of your CV…
You really don’t want to screw this up.
Because it is the context-setting start of your CV.
You can literally determine the focus of the recruiter in the rest of your CV!
You can decide to impress immediately with your core skills…
With your great achievements… or maybe personal values…
It doesn't matter. Just choose the area that will probably get you hired.
With the CV summary, you have the opportunity to DESIGN the thoughts of the recruiter.
What must the recruiter think about you after reading your CV?
Where do YOU want the recruiter to focus on?
The #1 CV summary mistake
Most people write in their CV summary what they WANT instead of what they have to OFFER.
Do you recognize something like this?
“I am a hard-working, punctual and motivated individual who is able to work in a busy environment and produce high standards of work.”
“I’m an enthusiastic and hard-working student and am looking for a part-time job to help me with my studies financially”
➣ These are actually real CV examples I improved last week!
You know what?
Everyone is hard-working on their CV.
Not only that. Being ‘enthusiastic’ and ‘hard-working’ are meaningless statements if not backed up by proof.
What is hard-working for you?
So… what is the value in that sentence?
The only relevant information here is ‘part-time’ and perhaps ‘student’ (and that even depends on the job application!).
You wasted the most valuable part of your CV with a useless sentence!
And it's not uncommon.
95 out of 100 people are writing their summary in such a way…
Which is great news for you!
With my help, you are going to make your CV summary the most powerful part of your CV.
After this article, you know exactly how to make the recruiter excited about you, resulting in the desire to read on.
Learn how to write your CV for MAXIMUM IMPACT!
The goal of your CV Summary
So the CV summary is NOT about what you WANT but about what you have to OFFER.
It is the context-setting start of your CV.
What aspects do you want the recruiter to focus on?
Do you want to direct the attention of the recruiter towards your personal brand, core skills or personality?
Or how about impressing immediately with your hard achievements?
The goal of the summary is to capture the recruiters' attention by showing immediately that you are a suitable candidate.
The CV summary has to establish the right focus.
Give the recruiter a clear overview of your greatest added value to THEM.
The rest of your CV is to back it up.
Are you making a career change?
Make a statement of it, show the recruiter why this is the logical choice for you and what you have to offer.
Make your previous experiences beneficial by stating how it will help you to do the job better.
How long should the CV summary be?
Don’t make this introduction longer than 1/3 of the page.
Oh, and don’t write it in a single paragraph!
I have seen this so many times. If the block text is too big, the recruiter will just skip it. Looks matter.
Here’s a psychological trick.
Start the summary with a short, inviting 1-2 sentence.
It will be easier to start reading when there is only a single line, and once the recruiter begins reading he will be more inclined to read on.
It works. And you are the living proof.
Ever noticed that my articles start with a small image?
This is to shorten the first sentences, making it easier to start reading!
So first capture the attention. Once they have started reading, they are much more likely to read on.
The role of the CV summary
Together with the sidebar, the CV summary plays a crucial part in your best CV format.
The sidebar will draw the attention at first sight.
Here you showcase your big selling points so that you will stand out immediately with your greatest added value to the company.
Think about your achievements, skills/competencies or personal values/interests.
After that, your targeted summary will give a more in-depth context, making the recruiter excited about you.
Read ‘What is the best CV format’ to learn everything about this CV format.
Are you in doubt about which focus-type is the right one for you?
Take the free CV Quiz and find out!
Performance-based CV summary
Have you impressive achievements that will blow the recruiter away?
Then the performance-focussed summary is the best CV format for you.
It highlights your achievements and experiences, impressing the recruiter with your career and extensive work history.
How to use the performance-based CV summary:
Instead of ‘summary’, rename the headline to your job title (like ‘Established/Experienced Marketing Manager’).
This will immediately set the professional focus and tell the recruiter that he is dealing with an experienced candidate.
The next thing to do is to provide evidence of that expectation.
Demonstrate your value by highlighting your most impressive achievements.
- Use the first line to give an overview of your career with the advantages;
- Next, take your biggest achievements (2 or 3).
- Finally, add some social proof (a third party that said something about you).
ExampleExperienced Marketing ManagerBeen into email marketing for over 10 years, resulting in a massive experience in psychological opt-ins and persuasive tactics.
- 10% revenue increase in 2 years
- Grown mail list and email campaigns of over 100.000 participants
“He’s the best that happened to me, hire him now!” - John Doe
Do you see how this directs your attitude towards this person?
Isn’t that interesting?
The achievements used in this summary should also be shown in your job description where you achieved them (in the right context).
Do you notice how I used a LinkedIn quote to provide the recruiter with some 'third-party proof'?
Because recruiters can easily check these quotes online, it will be immediately perceived as trustworthy!
Download all CV format examples (PDF) - including this CV summary
Skill-based CV summary
Do you possess specific skills that the recruiter is looking for? Then the skill-based focussed summary is ideal for you.
This CV summary will give you an expert position in your field instantly.
It is the best way to impress the recruiter with your unique skill set.
If you have hard achievements that demonstrate your skills, use it like the performance-based summary example.
However, retain the skills or competence element in the sidebar.
How to use the skill-based CV summary:
write in your summary detailed and in-depth about your skills. Show the recruiter that you know what you’re talking about.
Brand yourself as the expert on these topics.
If you have experience for several years, definitely let them know!
Rename ’summary’ to your Primary Skill and use the first line to outline your career and field of knowledge/experiences.
Try to add some social proof by showing big clients you worked with. Let the recruiter know that you are an expert in your field!
List the key skills in-depth. You know what you are talking about.
Finally, provide some articles you’ve published (if you’re a scientist) or showcase impressive GitHub projects (if you’re a programmer).
ExampleExperienced Front-end Programming ProfessionalCreated dozens of websites within the last 7 years including a custom CMS and a major fitness coaching platform.
- Clients include Apple, McDonald’s and Uber.
- PHP (5.5 - 7.0); also front end larval experience
- CSS/Less; including media queries and animation keyframes (CS3)
- CMS: Wordpress (7+ years), Drupal (7.0 and 8.1) & Magento (4 years)
Download all CV format examples (PDF)
Personal-based CV summary
Is your personality important for the job? Do you need to have a lot of social skills? Or are you looking for your first (people-oriented) job?
The personal-based CV summary is ideal for you.
It highlights your personal characteristics and motivation, impressing the recruiter with your personality rather than experience.
How to use this CV format to open with the right intention:
Use the title 'Personal Profile' instead of 'Summary' and open this section with your personal brand.
This brand should state the unique aspects you want the recruiter to remember you for (read align your CV with the job).
Try to include some unique values that are important to the job.
➣ You may also include a little personal history if that is relevant.
The more detailed/specific the better, show that you are unique and ideal for the job!
Finally, describe why you want to work here (motivation) and use your personal mission statement (explained below) to give insights into your methods and your direction at work.
Look for similarities with your personal drive and the job/company, making your CV more personal and touching for them!
It is much stronger to include the motivation also in your CV instead of only in your Cover Letter.
Cover Letters are often left unread and by providing it in your CV you show your motivation in the right context.
How about reading your motivation immediately followed by the evidence (CV) of why you are the perfect fit!
ExampleYour values are:
Loyal, caring, supportive, open-minded
Your personal brand is:
I support young children that are lagging behind and enable them to grow in their own way by personalizing proved methods because I love to give everyone an equal chance.
Your personal mission statement is:
My mission is to make a difference in the lives of young children by enabling them to grow in their own way.
Personal ProfileI am a loyal, caring person that loves to make a difference in the lives of young children that are lagging behind by personalizing proven methods.
I am open-minded and supportive, driven by the fact that I want to give everyone an equal chance. In fact, this is the reason why I choose to study … and specialized in the courses X and Y to become equipped with all required techniques.
I am passionate about working for company X because of the strong focus on young individuals, making a big difference in their lives.
Download all CV format examples (PDF)
Learn how to write your CV for MAXIMUM IMPACT!
How you should use the CV sidebar
Great! The summary/introduction sets the expectation and all other elements in your CV are there to back that up.
Almost all of my free CV templates have a sidebar, and that is no mistake.
You have only 20 seconds to impress the recruiter (Read: How recruiters look at your CV).
This is how my CV templates will get you noticed:
At first sight, the sidebar, containing your greatest added value to the company, will stand out.
After 3-5 seconds, the recruiter moves to your context-setting summary.
This CV summary reinforces the already highlighted qualities and set the right focus for the rest of your CV.
How to use the sidebar with the different CV formats:
- With a Performance-based CV format, highlight your achievements/awards (add an award element in the CV builder) in the sidebar or under the education element.
- With a Skill-based CV format, highlight ‘competences’ or ‘skills’.
Skills have an eye-catching ‘rating’ element in the CV builder while ‘competences’ has the advantage of adding a description.
- The highlight with a Personal-based CV format is about your personal interests (add a description to make the intentions clear!)
Try My Free CV Builder Now
If you have not yet checked out my free CV builder, I highly recommend you to do so. I made most templates free as I am on a mission of helping 1 million people get their Dream Job.Free Online CV Builder The CV/Resume builder will allow you to give your CV a professional look automatically. Just follow the CV format and you will have a professional CV in no time!
Personal mission statement
In countries like Australia, it is common to include your personal mission statement in the summary.
As using a personal mission statement is the ideal way to show your personal drive, it is also integrated into the personal-focussed CV format.
This is how it works.
Your personal mission statement describes where you want to be and what you want to achieve in the future.
It reflects your values, goals and purpose.
It is the optimal mental picture of your future self.
Everything is exactly how you would like it!
Your mission statement has to be powerful, inspiring and stimulates you towards the direction you want to grow.
CV-Template, for example, is originated due to my mission of helping 1.000.000 people get their dream job.
I want to set things right; because still today there is the situation that not the best people get hired, but the ones with the best CV!
My personal mission is derived from my belief that having a dream job is one of the best things that can happen to you.
“how much better would the world be when everyone was in the job position where he or she could make the most impact?”
I believe that work is one of the most important factors in your life.
If you have a job that makes you happy, everything around you will benefit. Think of how it would improve your family… and relationships!
That’s what moves me. That’s my DNA.
That is the core reason why I want you to go for the job you really want instead of just a ‘decent job’.
Your statement could look like this;
“I will be a reliable, inspiring project leader that gives clear direction, both on personal as well as on a strategic level to a team”
“My mission is to inspire team members to realise more than they thought they could be”.
While these statements might be a bit boring and not personal, you get the picture.
So how do you see yourself in the future? What’s your personal mission statement?
Your statement should be aligned with the values, culture, goals and position of the job you’re applying to.
If it does, it will be much easier to get a personal fulfilment out of the job!
…The second most important section of your CV!
Your Work Experience section.
Here’s a tip that I can give you… Do NOT list all your responsibilities in the job description! It is disastrous.
But I won't leave you there. In the next lesson, I will explain exactly how to write your job description the best way.
Click here for the next CV lesson
Target every aspect towards the desired job and avoid unknown fancy terms.