Step 1 – Career Summary (AKA Highlight Reel)

Our first step of Day 3 is the most important.  You’ve spent a lot of time building the Highlight Reel in your workbook and now you’re going to use it as the basis for your Career Summary.  Like I said:  The answers to the test are in the job description.  The closer your Career Summary matches the job description, the better your resume will be.  Keep this in mind as you build this section. 


Again, even though your Career Summary is based off what you built on the Highlight Reel pages in your workbook, don’t just blindly copy and paste the items to your resume.  Put your strongest and most relevant bulleted items at the top of this section.  Notice if certain keywords appeared in the job description more often than others.  Be sure those keywords appear early and often in your Career Summary.  You may even spot some trends emerging and group like items together.

Why You Should Include a Career Summary

If you haven’t included this section on a resume before, this is why I always recommend a Career Summary.  First, this is the top section on the front page so it’s the first thing that a human reader will see.  This is prime resume real estate and it’s where you’ll show that you have exactly the right skills and experiences for the job.  Second, because this section is essentially a duplicate of what you’ll include later in your resume, the ATS will pick up these critical skills, experiences, and keywords from the job description twice.  ATS is not only looking for matches but it also looks for how often certain words and titles appear in your resume.

Section Header

Another pro tip is that I also like to use the actual targeted job title as part of my Career Summary section header.  First, the ATS likes to see the actual targeted job title show up in your resume even if this isn’t the job title you have now.  Second, for a human reader, imagine you’re a recruiter trying to fill a restaurant chef opening.  You pick up a resume and right there, front and center, it says “Career Summary – Restaurant Chef”, wouldn’t you be more willing to take a closer look at that resume?  What if the next resume you pick up says “Career Summary – Lawyer?”  Why is a lawyer applying for a Restaurant Chef job?  Sure, this lawyer may have just gone to chef school and did an internship in France cooking but you won’t ever get that far.  And why do you want to waste your time digging into it?  All you know is that you have 30 resumes to review, you need a chef, but this person says they’re a lawyer so you’re going to pass.  Remember that you get six-seconds when someone skims your resume.  Make those seconds count!

Summary Sentences

The top of the Career Summary should also have one or two sentences summarizing you as a professional.  Start off identifying yourself with the targeted job title and then list some key skills and experiences that closely mirror the job description.  It’s the same reason as using the targeted job title in the section header.  If the first line of your career summary reads, “Lawyer with 10 years of experience…” but you’re applying for a restaurant chef job, why would a recruiter keep reading any further? 

If you’re transitioning to a new career or role, then you’ll have to get creative with this.  When I transitioned from an engineer to being an analyst, I called myself the generic term of IT professional and then focused more on how I had the appropriate skills and experience to do the targeted job title.  In the example where the lawyer was transitioning to restaurant chef, their first line might read, “Chef trained at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris… “ so even though their day job is being a lawyer, they should lead with all of their cooking education and experience since that’s the role their targeting.


In terms of formatting, after the first few sentences that serve as an overview, I recommend using bullet points.  They are easier to skim, and they force you to be concise in each thought you are trying to convey. 

I also recommend writing the entire Career Summary in the present tense even if some of the skills and experiences were from the past.  You also want to use active language that really showcases your achievements.  For example, use bold active words like exceeded, surpassed, and achieved versus passive words like responsible for, guided, and produced.  There are lots of great online resources with tips about how to use more active and engaging language in resumes.

Resume Length

If you’re wondering how you can stick to a one-page resume if you have a giant Career Summary section, the answer is, you don’t.  Gone are the days of the one-page resume rule.  The original one-page resume was so human readers didn’t have to flip the page.  But now with having to get past the Applicant Tracking System or ATS, if your resume doesn’t match the job description well enough, then you can’t get to the human reader.  Remember that 95% of Fortune 500 companies use an ATS.  Even medium and small sized companies have some type of ATS to help filter through the high quantity of resumes received online.

It’s fine to have a resume that’s more than one page.  Just remember that humans do read from top to bottom so you’ll want to showcase how you’re a great fit for the job right away.  Also, if you’re mid to late career and have been out working for a few decades, you’re going to have a lot more work experience than someone that just graduated college.  Your resume length should make sense based on your career.  I advise it’s better to have a longer resume than to use microscopic font and weird formatting to try to fit it all on one page. 

As you’re writing this section, be sure to use the exact keywords and terms from the job description so the ATS can make the match.  Remember that just like an actual movie trailer or Highlight Reel of clips, every clip you see in the trailer needs to appear in the actual movie.  The same holds true of the Career Summary. Essentially, everything you include here will need to match up with a particular job or experience outlined elsewhere on your resume.  Now it’s your turn to write your Career Summary and build it with your Highlight Reel items from your workbook.