The Importance of a Summary Section

You might be surprised to hear that many recruiters, business owners, and hiring managers do take the time to read an applicant’s summary section. Still others choose not to go on and read the rest of the document if a summary section is not included or poorly written. Yet despite this, many job seekers choose to eschew a summary section, or put it in as a sub-par afterthought. This is a bad decision. The summary section is often the first thing a hiring manager will read about you, and if it’s written poorly, it could be the last.

Most people agree that the summary section should be a 4-7 sentence paragraph capturing the essence of your background, giving a snapshot of your skills, and setting the stage for the rest of the document.  It identifies the specific position you’re targeting, and prepares the reader to understand why you are competent enough to handle that position.

So what things should go into a well-written summary section? Well, there are some absolute “musts,” including:

  • Several professional characteristics. These will vary depending on the job and industry, but essentially they describe why you’re a good fit for the position. Things like “detail-oriented,” “process-focused,” “organized,” and “reliable” often fall in this category.
  • Years in the industry/position. Especially if you have substantial prior experience in the field, you’ll want to include the number of years worked in the industry. It doesn’t need to be exact: something like “10+” or “over 15” will often work very well.
  • Expertise in field. If you have a Master’s in the field, or certain certifications which make you a particularly attractive candidate, you can include them here.
  • 2-4 accomplishments. Select some of your proudest professional moments to include in the summary. These should focus on skills relevant to the position, and emphasize your abilities using strong verbs like “developed,” “collaborated,” and “streamlined.”

A well-written summary section will cater to the needs of the position, which is why a summary section should change depending on what jobs you are targeting. Identify the top qualifications for any given job, and find specific examples of those qualifications in your background. You can then reflect those qualifications in your summary section, demonstrating to the hiring manager that you are aware of and responsive to their needs. If you are struggling to come up with a summary section, it may be worth your while to reach out to a professional resume writer or career counselor, who can help you develop verbiage which can be reworked for each subsequent summary.

Not only can you include your summary section on your resume, but you can also implement it on your LinkedIn. In fact, the inclusion of a summary on your profile is taken into account in LinkedIn’s ranking of the “completeness” of your profile. If you don’t have a summary section, your profile is seen as “less complete” and will not turn up in as many searches. So, if you’ve been avoiding putting in a summary section, now might be the time to buckle down and actually write one.

Career Solutions Group has been helping people move towards their career goals for over 15 years. If you are interested in receiving professional assistance to help develop your career, email us at We offer free initial consultations, and have helped hundreds of job seekers make successful transitions.

By: Julia Pillard, Career Solutions Group