Starting a New Career: Resume Tips for the Headline & Summary Paragraph
Your resume needs to be tweaked each time you apply for a job. This is particularly critical for the resumes of professionals who are looking to move into a new career or industry. Your resume should tell a story that prospective employers can relate to and that shows you have the experience or skills, to meet the requirements of the job.
Of all the elements on the resume, the Headline and Summary paragraph are two of the most critical sections to get the story right. Hiring managers and applicant tracking systems (ATS) review the resume starting at the top and hit these key sections for relevant information. If these two sections don’t align with what the employer is looking for, you’ve already lost them.
So, here’s what you can do on the resume when trying to break into a new career or industry:
Present a Headline That Shows You Have the Experience
For someone starting a new career or entering a new industry, it’s essential for the resume to grab the attention of employers. This means that you should play up the Headline on the resume. Don’t waste the opportunity by simply labeling your Headline as “Summary.” Use it to define who you are as a professional in the new career or industry. Examples include:
- Graphic Designer Skilled with Adobe, InDesign, and Quark Products
- Web Designer Experienced with HTML, CSS, and WordPress
- Senior Accountant with CPA Certification and 15 Years of Experience
- Certified Medical Assistant with Emergency Room Experience
Any choice of headlines above speaks volumes over one that just reads “Summary” on the resume.
The tailored Headline also helps set the stage for the rest of the information you present on the resume. For instance, many who go through a career change will include their last job title on the resume. The problem lies in that the job title doesn’t necessarily show any relevance to the new career. This leaves hiring managers with the immediate sense that you’re unqualified for the job, and everything ends there. However, when your resume includes a tailored headline that sets the right tone, the reader is prompted to continue reviewing your resume because there’s something of relevance and value that has been presented through the Headline. For more tips, read: “3 Tips to Personal Branding and Securing Your Next Job.”
Present a Summary Paragraph with Relevant Accomplishments
The Summary paragraph is generally found below your Headline on the resume. This is the section where you have a few lines or bullet points to inform prospective employers of your professional background, including your years of experience and significant accomplishments.
When you’re starting a new career or changing industries, help prospective employers make sense of your professional experience and your transferable skills. Demonstrate your value (what you bring to the table). It’s important to align your points to what the prospective employer is looking for to indicate you meet the requirements of the job. For more tips, read: “Tips to Get the Resume Ready for a Career Change.”
Whether you choose to write your own resume or get the help of a professional resume writer, it’s important to understand the needs of the employer and the requirements of the position. This will allow your resume to be crafted in a way that speaks directly to what the employer is looking for. Take the time to carefully review the job posting and conduct the necessary research to fully understand how your unique experiences can be used to benefit the employer.
When it comes to the resume format, most career changers benefit from a combination (hybrid) resume format. For more on that, read: “How to Give the Resume a Boost for a Career Change.”