Resume-Writing Essentials: Five Most Powerful Career Summaries

Old-school resumes used to start with a career objective to alert the reader to the type of position the job seeker was targeting. Over the past 10 years, objectives have been replaced with the much more powerful career summary section, which allows job seekers to highlight their most notable skills, qualifications, achievements, credentials and other distinguishing information as it relates to and supports their current objective. Instead of stating “that is what I want” (as in an objective), job seekers can tell readers, “This is the value and expertise I bring to your organization.”

The career summary also allows you to:

Communicate your brand.
Position yourself for the types of jobs you will be pursuing now.
Integrate essential keywords.
Set yourself ahead of the competition.
Note that the career summary section can have many names, including executive summary, professional summary, professional qualifications, career profile, executive profile and more. Or, it can have no heading at all as you’ll see in some of the examples below where just a headline communicates who the job seeker is.

There are an unlimited number of ways to write, format and design career sumary sections. Your decision will be based on how the rest of your resume is structured, so that you select a career summary that both blends with and complements everything else. Here are five of the most common styles:

Career Achievements
Headline Format


Recruitment & Staffing | HRIS Technology | Succession Planning

Training & Development | Employee Relations | Benefits & Compensation


Immediately communicates who the job seeker is with a crisp, hard-hitting, to-the-point introduction.
Puts essential information front and center in an attention-grabbing format.
Front-loads keywords, which are critically important for both human readers and electronic resume scanning systems.
Paragraph Format


Human Resources Professional with 10+ years’ experience building and leading best-in-class HR organizations for major corporations in the technology industry–Apple, Intel and Microsoft. Expertise includes technical staff and management recruitment, onboarding, training and development, employee relations, performance standards and evaluation metrics, and HRIS technology. Accustomed to working with diverse multinational teams throughout North America, Europe and Asia to leverage human capital to meet challenging business needs. SHRM-SCP, MBA-HR.


Presents a clear and concise (three-five lines) overview of the most important information, carefully selected to position each job seeker for specific job targets.
Provides a good framework for constructing a “tell-me-about-yourself” introduction (e.g., who you are, length of career, notable employers, top qualifications, distinguishing degrees and credentials).
Written to engage readers with keywords and qualifications closely aligned to their specific hiring needs.

Career Achievements Format


Achieved 126 percent of staffing goals for company headquarters at less than 50 percent of projected cost.
Designed and launched 27 new training programs for hourly teams at 1,250 locations nationwide.
Eliminated training gaps in hazmat handling and emergency response, reducing safety incidents 214 percent.
Introduced team initiatives that identified performance opportunities and improved productivity 9 percent.


Leads with a headline for instant recognition as to the job seeker’s expertise.
Prominently positions a job seeker’s most notable achievements as the cornerstone of the resume.
Effectively integrates metrics and other measurable information to boldly communicate success.

Credentials Format


Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO)

22-Year Career – Bayer, J&J, Pfizer, Merck

Executive MBA – Harvard University | BS in Business – Duke University

On-Air Guest & HR Contributor – CNBC, ABC News, CBS Sunday Morning

Featured HR Contributor – Time Magazine, Forbes, HR Magazine


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