How to Write a Good Professional Summary [Updated 2023]

April 11, 2015
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We ask all featured candidates to distill who they are and the type of job/company that they’re looking for in a 160-character summary. We’ve found that it’s a great way for candidates to show their personality while giving founders and hiring managers a more personal look at their interests. The 160-character limit, while somewhat arbitrary, acts as a constraint that forces candidates to be direct and concise.

This post started out as one that we planned to share privately with candidates, but as we wrote it, we realized that candidates may find it useful as they ready their LinkedIn profiles and resumes for a job search.

Here are some tips to help you craft a great 160-character professional summary and a few well-written summaries submitted by featured candidates. (The examples are meant to be emulated, not duplicated.)

General Advice

  • Put yourselves in the shoes of the founders and hiring managers that are reviewing your resume and work samples. The goal of this summary is to stand out and give them something by which to remember you.
  • Be creative, but not at the expense of being informative.
  • Your summary should reflect your personality (e.g. if you’re quirky, incorporate that into your writeup).
  • Focus on the things that really motivate or interest you – company or team size, sectors/industries, types of problems, culture traits, money, mission, career advancement, etc.
  • Double and triple check for typos. Misspelling something in a 160-character blurb is a sure-fire way to stay unemployed.
  • Emphasize your skills, background and special interests. Employers already know your current job title, so use this space to share your personal narrative or the thing that makes you unique.

Five Technical Candidate Summaries

  1. A contagiously energetic iOS engineer looking to join a team that’s trying to make the world better. Experience includes Swift, Node, & Parse.
  2. I’m looking for a backend role with the ability to work on data projects. Preferred language is Python but open to anything. Focus on culture is a must.
  3. Golang development, ideally on a team that uses Docker. I’m more interested in a team of awesome people and a company with a mission than money.
  4. I am looking for a small team using R, Python, and NoSQL technologies. I’m particularly interested in working on applications using graph databases.
  5. Interested in startups on node, python, io.js, reactjs. I have deep experience working in education/games. Looking for a collaborative team.

Five Product Candidate Summaries

  1. Passionate, intuitive visual designer and artist looking to create beautiful, innovative work at a small-to-medium-sized company and grow with talented peers.
  2. Seeking a Lead/Senior Designer role to own and scale a product. Prefer Seed/Series A stage. Advanced HTML/CSS, SASS, Liquid, Handlebars. Intermediate JS/JQuery.
  3. Visual Designer and UI Animator aiming to create profound and engaging user experiences through digital and physical products.
  4. I’m a UX-focused product manager excited to join a team where I can have a big impact shaping a product with data & user feedback. I <3 coffee, puppies & GIFs.
  5. Product leader with foundations in research, data, UX, and technology. I learn/adapt quickly and enjoy working with teams who inspire and challenge me.

Five Business Candidate Summaries

  1. I’m a versatile marketer with experience at two high-growth SaaS startups, looking to start a demand generation program for an early/mid-stage company.
  2. Looking for a leadership role in client services with high-growth potential, working with smart, personable people on challenging and interesting projects.
  3. Extensive GM experience in the sports, restaurants, and SMB spaces. Ideally working directly with founders in early stages of building a company.
  4. User acquisition marketer seeking high-impact senior marketing roles at venture-backed startups. Optimizely helped my dad understand what I do for a living.
  5. Looking for a head of talent role at a high-growth company where I’m able to build executive/high-level teams across a variety of verticals.

Like we mentioned above, these examples should be used as inspiration for your own professional summary. Remember to keep your summary concise, focused and uniquely you.

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