De-mystifying Executive Summaries


The recruiter for your dream job opens up your résumé file. Five seconds later, they close it. Why?

Most likely, they didn’t see anything in those precious few seconds to convince them it was worth the effort to continue reading. After all, your CV is but one of dozens in the stack they will need to sift through.

Using a clean and crisp layout that’s easy on the eyes is one important way to avoid banishment to the résumé void. But after an initial first impression based on looks, keep them hooked with some good content—and the best way to do that is by including an Executive Summary right after your name and contact details.


What is an Executive Summary?

Think of the Executive Summary as an elevator pitch, where you have just a few seconds (or lines, in this case) to demonstrate that you have the skills, experience and achievements to flourish in the position you’re applying for.

For example:

Financial Controller

  • Accomplished Finance Controller with over 15 years’ experience in financial compliance at global MNCs.
  • Good track record for supporting business growth through astute financial management and strategic management of risk exposure.
  • Experienced in GST / VAT Reporting, Transfer Pricing, Supply Chain Finance as well as compliance and reporting procedures for Hong Kong companies.
  • Skilled at working with senior management team to identify areas for business improvement and increment in profitability.

The above example works well, because from the first line alone, we already know two essential points: the applicant’s length of experience, and their main field and industry of expertise. From a recruiters’ perspective, this opening line provides a good sense of whether the applicant is suitable for the position they’re seeking to fill, or not.

The next few lines outline the applicants’ other skills, taking care to mention specific details such as knowledge of compliance and reporting procedures for Hong Kong based companies.


How to write an Executive Summary

Focus on your selling points. Perhaps you’re good at number-crunching, or you enjoy data entry. Be sure to highlight these, while avoiding mention of weaknesses or tasks that you dislike. You don’t want to set yourself up for awkward questions during any interviews, or even during the job itself, if you get that far.

At the same time, seek to tailor your Executive Summary to the job you’re applying for. Ideally, an Executive Summary would match closely with the job description of the position that the applicant is vying for—but don’t copy it, obviously!

Everything in moderation: keep it to about 4-6 lines. This will inform the reader of the depth and scope of your experience, but it will not be so long that they are bored. At this point, they will want specifics, and thus prefer move on to the details of your work scopes and achievements.

Executive Summaries are usually presented as either a bulleted list or a paragraph, so that’s down to your discretion. A list might be easier to read, however.


Customise, Customise, Customise

If you’re a fresh graduate, or an otherwise less experienced applicant, be sure to highlight transferable skills you may have gained from your education, internships, or other life experiences.


  • Engineering undergraduate student with solid background in mechanical engineering
  • Deep experience in wide range of industrial designs and fabrication solutions for oil and gas industry
  • Strong understanding of customer needs with keen eye for identifying opportunities for design optimisation. Experienced in leading quality control initiatives
  • Track record for delivering exceptional work to high standards and meeting project milestones


Similarly, don’t forget to customise your Executive Summary to better reflect your chosen industry/profession.

For example, IT professionals should try to include their specific domains of expertise—such as software architecture or banking applications, as in the below example. Note that mention is also made of experience with project management, which is vital in the IT field.

IT Manager

  • Seasoned techno-functional IT manager with over 10 years’ experience in managing IT banking systems in the areas of Software Architecture and System Design.
  • Solid experience in conceptualising and driving technical solutions for complex problems with specific domain expertise in banking applications.
  • Adept at end-to-end full life cycle implementation projects with ability to bring together diverse teams to meet organisational goals.
  • Strong in identifying opportunities for process improvement and operational efficiencies that lead to significant cost savings and continuous improvement.



Don’t give that recruiter a reason to chuck your CV and move on! By making sure you have an informative Executive Summary to catch their eye right on top of the résumé, you can instead leave a good impression—and with any luck, appear as suitable and qualified for the position as you most probably are.

If you’d like a little more guidance, do check out our extensive pool of résumé samples here for many more examples of great Executive Summaries.

If you have further any questions, or if you’d like more help in developing your own eye-catching Executive Summary, please feel free to drop us a note here—our consultants will be more than happy to help you.

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