How to Write a Performance Summary

What is a Performance Summary?

A performance summary is a section of a resume that highlights key achievements and contributions to past positions. It is typically included towards the top of a resume, after the contact information and target job. It is an abstract for a resume, serving as an introduction to previous work experience and education.

A reader should have a good understanding of a job seeker's abilities after reading the performance summary. Like a strong thesis statement in an academic essay, a performance summary and resume headline should exemplify the job seeker's achievements.

A performance summary should be specific, measurable, and relevant to the target job. It should include concrete examples of successes and accomplishments rather than a list of previous responsibilities or duties.

Performance Summary Tips

  1. Use active language: Action verbs help to communicate a sense of achievement and make it more engaging. Use verbs like "completed," "attained," "increased," "developed," or "improved" to highlight accomplishments.
  2. Use numbers and metrics: Including specific numbers and metrics can help quantify achievements and make them more tangible. Rather than stating "increased sales," precisely state how much they increased: "increased sales by 15% over the past year."
  3. Be specific: Avoid generalities and vague statements. Instead, be explicit and provide examples of quantifiable achievements, which makes it more memorable and impactful. Instead of writing "led a sales team and exceeded target goals," expand the entry. Unless your intended audience worked with you, they won't know the context or the magnitude of the achievement. Instead write, "led a sales team of 6 and exceeded regional goals that were recently increased the previous quarter."
  4. Tailor performance summary to the target job: Make sure to tailor it to the target job. Include accomplishments that are the most relevant to the position and highlight skills and experiences that align with the requirements of the job. Use specific keywords found in the target job posting. Hiring managers use filters and applicant tracking software to whittle down job applicant pools. A tailored performance summary can keep an applicant's resume out of the automated filters.
  5. Keep it brief: It is important to highlight achievements, but equally important to keep a performance summary succinct. It should be 1 to 2 paragraphs, or 4 to 6 bullet points. A combination of 1 paragraph and 4 bullet points is also acceptable, but keep it concise as this format requires more real estate.

A performance summary is an opportunity for an applicant to highlight the value they will bring as an employee and demonstrate why they are a strong candidate. Include specific examples from previous work experience to demonstrate intangible assets or soft skills. Following these tips will create an impactful performance summary that effectively communicates the applicant's accomplishments while distinguishing them from other candidates.