How to tailor your resume summary to a specific job description: Guide and examples

How to tailor your resume summary to a specific job description: Guide and examples

In this guide, we go over the ingredients of stellar resume summaries and why it is so important to tailor the resume summary to the job posting language. We also provide a step-by-step guide to rapidly tailor your resume summary to any job description. 

Table of content

The importance of a tight resume summary

Your professional summary, which is usually placed at the top of your resume, is often the first thing recruiters see and read when they review your resume. It needs to be engaging and relevant to clear the initial screening hurdle. 

The resume summary: Your professional tweet

Just as a well-composed tweet can convey a lot of information in a few words and be memorable,  a well-crafted resume summary encapsulates your professional persona in a crisp, compelling manner that positions you as a top candidate. With job postings receiving tens or even hundreds of job applications, your professional summary needs to grab the recruiter’s attention to make it immediately stand out.

First impressions matter

Recruiters often skim through resumes and spend only a few seconds per job application during the initial screening due to time constraints. When your resume is first pulled from the applicant tracking system (ATS), you want to make sure it moves to the ‘starred’ pile because otherwise, it won’t be reviewed again. An engaging resume summary can hook them, encouraging a thorough review of your application.

Job seekers sometimes mistakenly believe that if they write the facts about themselves and use the right keywords, it is enough for them to get the interview. Yet this misconception focuses on automatic applicant tracking systems and ignores the people behind – recruiters and hiring managers who call the shots. Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman and others have proven that people are not as rational decision-makers as they’d like to think of themselves. We are all deeply biased by subtle cues that are mostly subconscious.  This is not a call for manipulation, but rather that every sentence matters and different phrasings can convey completely different impressions.

Example: Consider the first sentence of a resume summary that initially read:
“Sales manager with ten years in the tech industry and focus on business-to-business enterprise sales, exceeding sales targets, and fostering and maintaining long-term client relationships”.

Compare that to a different phrasing of similar length but emphasizing different aspects of the professional experience.
“Passionate and hands-on sales leader with a decade in the tech world, consistently smashing sales targets by over 30%, deeply committed to building genuine, long-lasting client relationships that fuel mutual success.

Which phrasing do you think has a better chance of getting to the ‘starred’ pile? 

A catchy resume summary can significantly enhance the chances of a candidate being shortlisted. It’s like having a conversation starter at a networking event.

Making every word count: Tailor the resume to the job description

Tailoring your resume summary to match the job you are applying for is crucial. A generic resume summary can come across as unfocused, making it easy for recruiters to overlook your application. Here’s why and how making every word count matters:

Why tailoring matters

Relevance: By tailoring your summary to the job listing, you ensure that it emphasizes the most crucial experiences, skills, and competencies mentioned in the job responsibilities and qualifications. 

Standing out: In comparison to a generic resume summary, a tailored summary doesn’t include irrelevant information. Every word and sentence positions you as a strong candidate who was ‘made for’ this job. In a sea of irrelevant resumes, your resume match quality is a sight for the sore eyes of the recruiter. 

Benefits of tailoring the resume summary

Higher interview chances: One of the top reasons that resumes get rejected is because the resume summary did not impress the recruiter ). Tailored resumes have a higher chance of passing the initial screening, paving the way to the interview stage (assuming you have a high fit for the job throughout your resume).

Time efficiency: It is more efficient to optimize your resume summary because it is relatively faster than tailoring the entire resume for each job. In fact, as we’ve explained, you could tailor your skills section first and the summary section second for at least having the most important parts of your resume fully tailored. 

Better return on time/money investment: In many cases, job seekers spend time and money in the wrong places. For instance, using a resume builder just for the purpose of a prettier resume design is quite pointless. Recruiters care more about readability, clarity, and relevance than the beauty of your resume template. Moreover, some resume templates are not flexible enough to make it easy to tailor your resume. Choose a simple and straightforward resume design and invest time/energy/money where it counts.  Some job seekers invest hundreds of $ in professional resume writers. However, even the best writers will end up with a generic resume, and it is still essential to tailor that resume for every job application. 

Building a great professional resume summary: A checklist

Crafting a stellar resume summary requires a blend of relevant elements. Here’s a checklist to ensure your summary hits the mark:

Job title and work experience

Align your job title and work experience with the specific job title and refer to your experience in a way that reflects what is written in the job description. 

For example, if a company is hiring for the role of “Sales Team Leader” with the rank of Director that has a “Minimum of 8 years of sales management experience”, a tailored summary might include “A Sales Director with over a decade of team leadership experience”, directly corresponding with the specific job description. 

Context: Industry and work environment

Reflect on the specific industry and work environment of the prospective job and its requirements.

For example, if a company is hiring for a “Sales Manager” in an “early stage, fast-paced tech startup”, a tailored summary might include “Passionate and hands-on sales manager with a decade in the tech world and startup environments”, directly corresponding with the industry, work environment and its expectations. 

Education and certificates

Highlight the education and certificates in the summary if it is one of the required qualifications or highly relevant for the job. 

For example, if a company is hiring for a “Program Manager” with “Project Management Professional Certification” and “B.Sc. in Electrical Engineering or a related field”, a tailored summary might include “Certified Project Management Professional (PMP) with a B.Sc. in Engineering”.

Area of expertise

Showcase your domain expertise in a way that corresponds with the job description. especially if you’re in a knowledge-driven field.

For example, if an e-commerce company is hiring a “Fullstack Engineer”, a tailored summary might include “…specialized experience in developing and scaling e-commerce platforms, integrating payment gateways ensuring seamless online shopping experiences”.

Key skills and achievements

Showcase your top skills that are most essential for the job in a way that corresponds with the language of the job description. 
Display a mix of soft skills, hard skills, or notable accomplishments.

For example, a tailored resume example might include “Expert in JavaScript, Node.js, and React, I’ve led cross-functional teams to launch e-commerce platforms that increased online sales by 35%”

Personal touch

Share a personal tidbit that connects to the company’s domain, products, or values.

For example, if an e-commerce company emphasizes its value of “Empowering communities” in its job description, a tailored summary in a resume example might include relevant background “A staunch advocate for empowering communities through technology, I founded a local tech workshop for small businesses to bridge knowledge gaps”.

Each item in this checklist brings a unique flavor to your resume summary, making it a well-rounded portrayal of your professional persona.

Getting the format right: Length and language

Crafting the summary section of your resume requires a balance between being concise and informative. We recommend weaving the different elements together using the STAR method for resume writing.
Here’s how to format the resume summary to maximize its impact:

Ideal length

Your resume summary should be 1-3 sentences, totaling around 50-70 words. This length is perfect for maintaining the reader’s attention while providing key details.

Active language

To tailor a professional resume, utilize active language to make your resume engaging. For instance, say “Achieved 20% sales growth,” rather than passive language, “A 20% growth in sales was achieved.”

A positive, confident tone

Ensure you maintain a positive tone to reflect your enthusiasm and competence when you write a resume. Use words that display a proactive and optimistic image.

Some sample words that convey a positive, confident tone are: “expertise”, “proficient”, “skilled”, “accomplished”, “innovative”, “leading”. 

Action verbs

When writing your resume, incorporate action verbs to vividly describe your key skills and achievements.
Here’s a sample of highly effective action verbs: “achieved”, “built”, “coordinated”, “developed”, “enhanced”, “facilitated”, “generated”, “implemented”, “led”, “optimized”, “produced”.  

First-person implicit

Write using an implicit first-person tone. This means avoiding the use of “I” but crafting sentences as if discussing your work experience. For instance, “Demonstrated ability to troubleshoot complex issues, optimize code for performance, and integrate emerging technologies. Passionate about creating user-centric designs and staying updated with the latest industry trends”.

By tailoring these formatting tips, your resume summary becomes more easily readable and engaging for the recruiter and the hiring manager.

A rapid technique for tailoring your resume to the job posting

To truly optimize your resume to a specific job, you’d need to tailor the entire resume and rewrite the entire summary section. 

If you have limited time to tailor your resume, we strongly recommend that you start by tailoring the skills section and having a T-chart for the job. Then, use the quick summary tailoring technique we detail below. It is not as powerful as completely rewriting the summary, but it is way faster and far better than using a generic summary. 

The main idea is to grab one of your previous resume summaries tailored to a similar job title, use it as a starting point and make minimal adjustments. 

Using this technique, you will tailor your resume to the job by striking a balance between presenting your true professional self and aligning with the job description.

Adjusting job title and experience

Align your job title and work experience with the way they are phrased in the job description. It doesn’t have to be the exact wording, but it should be clear that your most recent title is aligned with the job. Similarly, make sure to mention the experience in a way that corresponds to the experience qualification language. 

Industry and environment context

Tailor the industry to the most relevant industry segment you worked with that is relevant to the job. For instance, if the job is in an e-commerce company and you worked in the e-commerce industry before, do mention it. Otherwise, you might mention that you worked in internet technology companies or just in the tech or retail segment. Mention the most specific common industry segment. Similarly, describe the most similar environment you worked in, e.g., enterprise, startup, or consumer brand. Omit irrelevant environments, e.g., no need to focus on startup experience in the summary if you’re targeting a corporate enterprise role.

Highlighting relevant education and certifications

Only mention education and certifications if these are part of the essential requirements or directly related to the job. Leave non-job-specific education and certifications for that dedicated resume section. 

Domain of expertise

Utilize keywords from the job description and your tailored resume section to describe your domain expertise. Use the T-chart to phrase it accordingly. 

Key skills and achievements

Emphasize the most essential skills and major achievements relevant to the job.

Your tailored skills section is already keyword-optimized, so you could pick one or two skills from there to add to the resume summary.

Personal touch

From the company and team description, pick something (domain, values, environment) that you connect with and add something personal about it to make your resume summary more relatable.

By following these steps and verifying your summary with the checklist above, your tailored resume will resonate strongly with the recruiter and hiring manager for the job you’re applying for. After repeating this process a few times, you’ll be able to tailor your resume summary in a few minutes. It’s worth it. 

Together with the tailoring of the skills section, you’ve managed to tailor the entire top half of your resume first page.  Way to go! Although this process takes more time than simply using a generic resume, it will ultimately shorten your job search and help you land your dream job more quickly.

5 responses to “How to tailor your resume summary to a specific job description: Guide and examples”
  1. […] as in your work experience.  For more details on this topic, check out our skill tailoring and summary tailoring […]

  2. […] your past, while your cover letter should lay out the future. After tailoring your resume skills, summary and past experiences to the specific position, use the cover letter to express what you aim to […]

  3. […] can use PSR in your work experiences as well as your resume summary section. The structure of PSR lends itself naturally to tailoring your resume to the job […]

  4. […] The resume summary (or resume objective) should be placed at the top of your resume. A well-written resume summary provides precisely the proper evidence for the hiring manager or recruiter to note you as a standout candidate. Craft a tailored summary that encapsulates your unique strengths and aspirations (check out our guide for writing the perfect resume summary). […]

  5. […] ליצור תקציר מקצועי מוצלח, יש לשלב מספר מרכיבים […]

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