Rethinking Resume Opening Statements: Opt for a Professional Summary

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June 23, 2023
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min read

3 key takeaways

  • What a resume opening statement is
  • Why there's a more effective, impactful alternative
  • How to use the free Teal AI Resume Builder to create a more compelling resume opening statement

Are you feeling stuck writing your opening statement for a resume? Well, don't get discouraged just yet.

Your resume opening statement is meant to drive the reader to dig deep into your qualifications. And while it's one of the first impressions a potential employer has of you, that doesn't mean you need to dedicate a significant amount of time and energy to crafting a professional profile that covers all of your extensive experience, specific goals, personal interests, and career dreams.

In fact, did you know there might be a better way to start your resume and grab attention than with an opening statement? One that emphasizes your best skills and strengths and differentiates you from other job candidates in a way that's only relevant to the role you're applying for?

What is a resume opening statement?

A traditional resume opening statement is a short paragraph or several bullet points near the top of your resume used to provide a concise overview of your skills, qualifications, and career goals. It's a personal statement with the exclusive purpose of catching the attention of potential employers to make a positive first impression. 

A resume opening statement usually includes some combination of your:

1. Professional job title

2. Years of experience

3. Educational background

4. Key skills

5. Notable achievements

6. Career goals

As an example, a resume opening statement would look something like this: 

Two other types of commonly used resume openers are resume introductions and resume objectives

Resume introductions focus on your overall profile as a high-level overview of your background, and they read similarly to the example below. 

Finally, a resume objective or resume objective statement focuses exclusively on your career goals and briefly describes what you hope to achieve in your next role. It often includes information about why you applied to a position and outlines what you're looking for, like this resume objective statement:

Try Teal's Resume Summary Generator to write a tailored, position-specific summary in a matter of seconds.

The case against a traditional opening statement

The resume opening statement, resume objective, or resume introduction has been a standard piece of the job application puzzle for years. But a common misconception is that they should include your career goals, overall application objective, or less tangible skills—limiting their effectiveness.

Talking about your career goals as a resume objective before the reader knows all of the great things you're capable of doing in the role you're applying for does little to differentiate you from other candidates. 

The modern resume objective is to prioritize a concise and impactful format that quickly highlights your relevant qualifications and achievements. In fact, your entire resume should only be one page long (possibly two if you have over ten years of experience). Hiring managers often prefer to see a clear demonstration of skills and experiences that align with the specific job requirements they are applying for.

So, what makes a good opening statement for a resume in today's market? 

A professional summary. 

A better alternative: the professional summary 

A good opening statement for a resume in today's modern job market is a professional resume summary.

"From an intentionality perspective, professional summaries are like a trailer for a movie. It's supposed to excite you and hook you into reading the rest of the document. Tactically, this is where you've got to be a good writer and hook in the reader. 

I don't think a company really cares what you want to do in your career or where you want to take it. What a company wants to hear is how you can help them; how your credentials, your ability, and your experience are of value to them. So I see it as a strategic play on the resume. To make that compelling and concise pitch for why they should continue to read the rest of the document." - Teal CEO and Founder, Dave Fano

A professional summary is concise, targeted, and showcases your unique value proposition—without any unnecessary details. It serves as a brief introduction to who you are as a professional. By moving away from the traditional opening statement and embracing a more tailored and impactful approach, you can better position yourself for success in a competitive job market.

What can you do? Where have you had an impact? Where do you excel? Resume opening statement examples like the professional summary only highlight relevant skills, experience with metrics (if possible), and notable accomplishments that are tailored to the role you're applying for. 

And by incorporating keywords from the job description or industry-specific language, using a professional summary as your resume opening statement can demonstrate your expertise and understanding of the role—increasing your chances of grabbing the hiring manager's or prospective employer's attention.

For example, if you're applying for the role of human resources director, your successful team management skills with a 96% retention rate are relevant to the role because it's considered a higher level and often requires previous management experience. However, your goal or dream job of becoming a VP of human resources within the next seven years isn't considered relevant to the director position.

"I like to think of professional summaries like an 'About the Author' section in a book. A professional summary statement gives a basic overview of who you are and what you've done. It draws attention to the rest of your resume, which highlights your physical work experience, and uses bullet points to go in-depth to support that professional summary." - Tech Recruiter, Leah Dillon

How to write a strong professional summary statement

To help provide a solid understanding of why a professional summary is the best option for your resume summary statement, let's break down the practical steps for how to write a good opening statement for a resume using a professional summary format.

Step 1: Review the job requirements:

Before you craft a professional summary for a specific job application, start by carefully reviewing the job description or job posting and the requirements of the position you're applying for. Identify the key hard skills and soft skills, experiences, and attributes your future employer is looking for.

Step 2: Identify your unique selling points.

Reflect on your qualifications and experiences. Determine your unique selling points that align with the job requirements. These could be specific skills, metric-based achievements, industry expertise, or personal qualities that differentiate you from other candidates. How are you the candidate that's the best choice to fill this role? You can also leverage ChatGPT resume prompts to summarize and synthesize your information.

Step 3: Craft a concise, professional summary opening statement.

Begin your professional summary with a concise opening statement that grabs the reader's attention. Use strong action verbs and impactful language to highlight your career focus and value proposition. For example, "ROI-Focused Digital Marketing Specialist with seven years of experience implementing data-driven strategies to drive online visibility by 25% and lead generation by 36%."

Step 4: Highlight key skills and expertise.

Identify the most relevant and in-demand skills you have that directly relate to the job. Incorporate these skills into your professional summary (and in your resume, "Work Experience" and "Skills Sections," too), emphasizing your expertise and accomplishments in those areas.

Step 5: Showcase relevant experience.

Highlight your most relevant work experience, focusing on achievements, responsibilities, and impact—demonstrating your ability to contribute effectively to the role. Quantify your accomplishments with numbers, data, or metrics whenever possible to provide concrete evidence of your impact.

Step 6: Include industry or field-specific keywords

Using the language you identified in Step 1, incorporate industry- and job-specific keywords and phrases in your summary. Using keywords can help your resume get noticed quickly, whether scanned by a human recruiter or by an applicant tracking system (ATS). It also demonstrates you understand the role you're applying for.

Step 7: Keep your summary concise and targeted

Your professional summary should be around 3-5 sentences that effectively summarize your qualifications. Avoid excessive details or unrelated information (like your career goals, that you have available references).

Step 8: Proofread and edit your content.

After drafting your professional summary, review it for clarity, grammar, and typos. Ensure it flows smoothly and effectively communicates your strengths. Remember, it should be an overview of your professional experience and nothing more.

Now that you know the steps, let's take a look at some resume opening statement examples that are formatted as professional summaries.

Professional summary resume examples

Front-end developer resume professional summary

Skilled Front-end Developer with 4 years of experience successfully designing, developing, and maintaining front-end web applications. Achieved measurable success in increasing page load speeds by 20%, leading to increased website conversion rates. Led the implementation of new front-end development system, which resulted in a 15% reduction in development time and a 20% increase in website performance. Adept in collaborating with cross-functional teams and delivering on-time and on-budget projects.

Check out more front-end developer resume professional summaries in these front-end developer resume examples.

Java back-end developer resume professional summary 

I'm a highly motivated, results-driven Java Back-end Developer with a proven track record of delivering high-quality solutions. I am passionate about developing and maintaining back-end systems, collaborating with front-end developers, and troubleshooting to resolve any bugs promptly—ensuring customer satisfaction. With a focus on performance optimization, I consistently achieve measurable results, such as improving response time by 20%. I am dedicated to overarching organizational success by providing the best solutions and achieving the highest level of performance.

Find more professional summary inspiration in these samples of back-end developer resumes.

Senior customer success manager resume professional summary

Senior Customer Success Manager with over 6 years of tech expertise in process optimization, reporting, and customer training. Proven track record of identifying customer needs and implementing strategies that resulted in 96% customer satisfaction and 2x retention, along with cost savings. Exceptional ability to collaborate with teams and deliver successful customer experience workshops.

To see more examples of customer success professional summaries, explore these customer success manager resume samples.

Administrative assistant resume professional summary

Highly-skilled, detail-oriented remote Administrative Assistant with a strong background in the SaaS tech industry. With a 37% increase in efficiency and productivity, I excel in providing comprehensive assistance and streamlining operations. With expertise in managing complex administrative tasks and leveraging innovative technologies, I'm dedicated to delivering exceptional results in fast-paced environments.

For more administrative resume professional summary inspiration, check out these administrative assistant resume samples.

How to use Teal to create your "Professional Summary" section

With the Teal AI Resume Builder, you can consistently generate and refine a good opening statement for a resume for every job application you submit.

With Teal, you can quickly and easily write a professional summary resume opening statement yourself. Or you can use the built-in AI functionality and generate one with the click of a button.

Teal's generative AI pulls keywords (like technical skills, soft skills, and other important language) from the job description and details from your work history and other professional experience to create an effective, tailored summary statement every time.

Use Teal's built-in AI to craft a tailored professional summary for every job.
Use Teal's built-in AI to craft a tailored professional summary for every job.

Then, click the check box next to the summary you want to use for the role you're applying for.

Reconsidering your resume's opening statement

The opening statement for a resume should draw attention, align with the role you're applying for, differentiate you from other job seekers, and drive a hiring manager or recruiter to want to learn more about your impressive experience and skills. And to accomplish this, instead of a resume opening statement, opt for a more modern professional summary.

Teal offers all the tools you need to write a resume with an attention-grabbing summary using relevant keywords from the job description and your previous experience as a guide.

Try creating your professional summary in the free Teal AI Resume Builder today, and experience the ease and confidence of crafting a compelling opening that'll leave potential employers wanting more.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the key elements to include in a modern professional summary for a resume?

A modern professional summary should be concise and tailored to the job you're applying for. It should highlight your most relevant skills, experiences, and achievements. Aim to include industry-specific keywords, your professional title or level, and quantifiable results if possible. Keep it to 3-4 impactful sentences that encapsulate your professional identity and value proposition.

How can I ensure my resume's opening statement stands out to employers?

To make your resume's opening statement stand out, focus on what makes you unique as a candidate. Use a strong, active voice and confident language. Avoid clichés and general statements. Instead, provide specific examples of your accomplishments and skills that directly relate to the job description. Tailoring your summary to each job application can also demonstrate your interest and commitment to the role.

Is it necessary to customize the professional summary for each job application?

Yes, customizing your professional summary for each job application is highly recommended. This shows the employer that you've taken the time to understand the job requirements and have thoughtfully reflected on how your skills and experiences align with their needs. Use the job description as a guide to incorporate relevant keywords and highlight the most pertinent aspects of your background.

Kayte Grady

Kayte, Senior Copywriter at Teal and Champion of ADHD professionals, is a seasoned writer passionate about storytelling and career growth. With a data-driven approach to content marketing and a word-nerd knack for resume builder analysis, Kayte’s on a mission to empower job seekers to land a job they love. Constantly pivoting and reinventing herself, this social-worker-turned-marketer found growth and camaraderie in tech—a genuine surprise given her never-ending devotion to the paper calendar.

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