Feel like you are stuck in a sea of applicants? Well, you are. Employers receive an average of 70 applications per job that is posted (with most jobs receiving many many more applications). At the same time, an average of 75% of those applications are rejected by the applicant tracking systems (ATS).

A strategic way to stand out is to include a summary statement for your resume. The summary statement has long since replaced the objective statement because it tells the reader who you are and how you are different from the many competitors. So, how do you craft a summary statement that helps beat the ATS?


The single most common mistake of job seekers is failing to include job titles in their summary statement. The applicant tracking systems are built on job titles and failing to include them can mean certain rejection of your application (each and every time you use it). When determining how to incorporate job titles in your summary statement consider:

  • Use variations. Organizations frequently use different versions of the same title (i.e. business development manager v. sales executive). This can be true even within the same organization. So, make sure to use multiple versions of the same job title in your summary statement.
  • More is better. Incorporate the job title in multiple places in your summary statement to optimize its performance with the ATS. 
  • Think forward. The summary and your resume is about selling yourself for the job you want – not the job you have. So, don’t be afraid to use the job title from the posting you are applying to rather than simply repeating your past titles in the summary.


Space on your resume is precious and a summary statement without keywords is a waste of that critical real estate at the top. Why? Applicant tracking systems use these keywords to help evaluate candidates and for recruiters to sift through the countless applicants.  Failing to include these critical words will undoubtedly reduce the performance of your resume and make it nearly impossible for a person to see your resume. To ensure that you incorporate the right keywords for your summary statement think about:

  • Tie it to the job title. There are specific skills that people need to perform certain job types and that can vary between roles. Including these job specific keywords in the keyword strategy for the summary statement of your resume is essential to the success of your resume. 
  • Look at the job description. Organizations will customize each job description to their unique needs. So, make sure to read the actual job posting that you are applying to and incorporate the keywords in to the summary statement of your resume whenever possible.
  • Incorporate company culture where possible. Each company has a unique culture and identifying the right soft skills to fit that culture can also dramatically improve the performance of your resume. Take a few minutes to find out what keywords apply to you by researching the organization. Then, make sure to include it in your summary statement.

Want to make sure the rest of your resume has the right keywords? Find the right keywords for your resume here.


The summary statement on your resume needs to focus on your best skills that truly make you different from the competition. This should be relevant information that does not repeat anything else on your resume. The skills you focus on in the summary need to be relevant to the job that you are applying to at the particular organization. So, here is how you write a summary statement for your resume that incorporates the right skills:

  • Incorporate words from the posting. When appropriate, use the words directly from the job posting. This will ensure that you align with the words that the ATS (and probably recruiter) are looking for when searching resumes.
  • Use words that you would say in an interview. The summary needs to be authentic and consistent with how you represent yourself in an interview. Do this by incorporating the same words that you would use to describe yourself in the question “Tell me about yourself.” Not sure how to answer this question? Learn how to craft your answer to this tricky behavioral interview question here.
  • Keep a balance of substantive and soft skills. The summary statement on a resume that beats the ATS will incorporate both soft skills and substantive skills required to do the job. Keep this balance by blending both skills looked for by most employers into sentences throughout the summary statement on your resume.


Always remember that the summary statement is your chance to sell the reader on why they should give you a chance. This is your elevator pitch and it needs to get right to the point – why should they hire you? This is one of the hardest questions for many applicants to answer, but a strong answer on your resume can land you the interview. So, think about the following when crafting your summary statement:

  • Summary means short. The best summary statements on resumes are 4 – 6 sentences, but never more than a quarter of the page. 
  • Be clear. Use simple sentences that clearly articulate why you are a good fit for the role. 
  • Convince the reader. Tell the reader that you fit their needs without repeating other content.
  • Close strong. The final sentence in your summary needs to clearly say what type of job you are looking for now.

Although it is challenging, writing a summary statement can dramatically improve your chances at avoiding rejection by the ATS. This means that you have a better chance at having a real person see your resume. So, avoid the common mistake of thinking that your experience speaks for itself and take the time to write a strong summary statement for your resume. 

If you want to take your resume to the next level, then consider customizing that summary statement to each job that you apply to. This may seem like a lot of extra work. But, a unique summary statement  has been proven to dramatically improve the performance of a resume in landing interviews.

Not sure where to start? The Contingent Plan career experts have developed a unique method to resume writing leveraging the official job descriptions developed by the US Department of Labor and customized that information after analyzing countless ATS. Request a quote to see if our experts can help improve the performance of your resume today.


With years of experience in the job acquisition field, Kathy has delivered exceptional service by providing in-depth knowledge about recruiting qualified employees, and crafting the perfect resume. The Contingent Plan comprises a team of expert recruiters, resume writers, and outplacement experts—all ready to help you! Read Kathy’s blogs, and discover simple tricks and tips to help you land the job of your dreams.