Do I Need a Summary at the Top of My Resume?

The Short Answer is, No.

A one-page resume is a summary. Hence the word "resume." And also, why your resume should be one-page. That said, if you are not a student and/or have experience of more than 7 years, THEN, yes a short summary at the top of your two-page resume is fine. Anything over two pages... is not a resume. At least not one that is helpful to the reader (who is usually a stressed out line manager or a recruiter looking for short-cuts). Now, you might be asked to submit a C.V. - that's a different story. A lengthy and comprehensive document that generally serves a different purpose. As for your two-page resume's Summary section, if you decide to include one, here are some good tips. Think of it as a preview but also a precise summary of your key skills. Do you find yourself reading the back of a book cover? How about checking out the latest movie trailers? Taking advantage of the free samples at your grocery store?

Why do we do these things? Because we want to get a quick idea of what something is before committing further time or money. The same thing applies to when you submit your resume for a job, especially when your resume is long. While your extensive and relevant professional experience may require (and deserve) a two-page resume, a recruiter has to spend hours upon hours going through cover letters and resumes. The last thing they want is to have to read through a lengthy resume only to find that the candidate isn’t a good match.

The two-fold strategy here is to avoid creating more work for the person you want to impress while simultaneously making sure they know that you are a perfect fit for the position!

This brief section of your resume gives you the opportunity to give employers a quick overview of who you are and what you bring to the table. You can think of it as an elevator pitch for your resume: it gives enough information to draw the reader in and leaves them wanting to learn more about you.

Crafting a summary section can be tricky. You want to say just enough to highlight your skills and competencies, without giving too much away at the outset. It can be hard to figure out what to focus on when you have years of experience and so much you want to say. The trick is to focus on three key areas: underlying skills, relevant skills, and employer focus.

Here are some real-life summary sections that succinctly and successfully convey the candidate’s skills and qualifications:

Example #1:

A professional with 20+ years of experience in financial accounting, staff management, and customer engagement. Experience in financial management has developed strong quantitative skills and excellent financial reporting skills that have been recognized for their accuracy and clarity. Has been consistently cited as an integral part of any organization due to ability to effectively manage staff and deliver outstanding customer service. A dependable and honest individual who puts the needs of organization and clients first.

Example #2:

-Environmental consultant with 12+ years of experience in economic development and environmental finance, both U.S. domestic and international assignments. Major clients including USAID and World Bank.

-Excellent project management skills managing an international portfolio of projects and government contracts worth over $3 million year on year, including large teams of 150+ subject matter experts.

-English and Spanish bilingual. Country experience: Barbados, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mali, United States.

Careerly’s Resume Guide discusses each of the three previously mentioned areas in-depth and includes more stellar real-life examples. Use these tips and notes to get your summary noticed and make the recruiter- not just willing- but excited to flip to the next page of your resume!

Thelan USA

Thelan USA is the expert in federal program management - strategy & planning, IT management, technical professional services - and with Careerly's addition to the family - human capital management, learning and development (L&D), and job skills training. 

FireShot Capture 646 -

1203,19th Street,3rd floor, Washington D.C. 200036, U.S.A.

  • LinkedIn Social Icon
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • YouTube
  • Instagram


"A Wharton alumna shares the personal experiences that inspired her own dedication to others’ professional growth."

WeChat: @careerly_co

©2020 by Careerly Networks.