How to Write a Resume Summary for Your Career Change (With Examples)

Jun 5, 2023 | Career Change, Resumes

How to write a career change resume summary

Trying to land a job in a new career path? Your resume summary is crucial. Read on to learn both why and how to write a great career change resume summary.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in February 2022; it has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness. 

By: Tonyia Cone | Contributor for Let’s Eat, Grandma

If you are thinking of changing careers, you know that there are many decisions to make during this exciting time. Once you figure out where you want to take your career, one of your first steps should be rewriting your resume toward your new career goals, taking some extra time to make sure your summary shines.

Since it’s your introduction to a recruiter or employer, your career change resume’s summary of qualifications should create an immediate, strong connection with each person you contact.

At Let’s Eat, Grandma, we agree with many other resume experts that as your first impression, the top of your resume is the most important space on your document.

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Use skills in your career change resume summary to bridge careers 

The first step when writing a resume is to tailor your resume to highlight how you align with each job description. This is even more important on a career change resume, as you’ll need to translate a lot of experience from your old field to your new one.

Your summary is an opportunity to show from the start how your skills, experience, and core competencies make you a great fit for a position in your new career.

To write a convincing summary for your career change resume, start by reading job descriptions carefully to identify the employer’s unique requirements. Bonus: After reading several job descriptions, you will probably start to see the gaps between your skills and those you’ll need in your desired career. Explore ways to start building those skills, perhaps through training or volunteer experience.

Next, address the requirements from the job description in your resume. Use the same terminology as the employer, and spell out your skills that best align with the job description, emphasizing your relevant experience, certifications, and education.

You should focus on transferable skills in this section, including soft skills that can help bridge the gap between your old and new careers. For example, if you’re transitioning from nursing to an administrative role, you can highlight your attention to detail and skills in handling complex data, rather than medical-specific skills. Or if you’re shifting from the hospitality industry to, say, sales, you can showcase your skills in relationship-building.

Once you’ve identified the top two or three skills you want to highlight, demonstrate how you have used them in a few key sentences (or bullet points) in your summary. These should be specific, objective, and as relevant to the position as possible.

This is also a great place to explain why you are interested in changing direction to this position in an industry or field that is new to you.

Be sure to keep this section short: A strong standard summary should be 75-100 words.

Strong career change summary examples

Let’s Eat, Grandma writers generally follow this format for their first summary sentence:

Descriptive Word + Job Title + Level of Experience + Key Feature in Career

Remaining sentences may stick with that format or follow this format:

Adjective + Position Descriptor + Description of Key Credential

The following nonprofit to sales career change summary does a great job with this:

Highly motivated, innovative project manager with an interest in transitioning 10+ years of experience in building relationships, identifying customer pain points, and proposing targeted solutions into sales and business development. Skilled at developing and presenting programs, case studies, toolkits, webinars, and outreach materials to add value and achieve measurable results at the local, state, and national levels. Focused on providing excellent communication, developing new business, and surpassing customer expectations. Proven leadership ability with a passion for communicating complex information to diverse audiences.

This job seeker is making the leap from the nonprofit world to sales. But in just a short paragraph, they make it very clear that they have:

  • More than 10 years of work experience
  • Specific, transferable skills
  • Strong, measurable achievements that are relevant to the position

By the time you finish reading their summary, it’s easy to forget the writer is making much of a career change at all.

This next summary, for a classroom teacher transitioning to a human resources professional, is another strong example:

High-performing professional with an interest in transferring 10+ years of dynamic teaching experience into a successful career in the private sector and human resources space. Proactive and engaging leader who operates with a personable, collaborative approach to solve complex challenges with cross-functional teams and ultimately, recruit top talent for companies across the U.S. Effective communicator with strong work ethic and analytical capabilities, motivated to take initiative and deliver individualized recruitment programs for diverse stakeholders.

The teacher is upfront about the career change, but they also point out specific and relevant skills that will be useful in their new career, making it easy to see they are a great fit for the position anyway.

The final key to a career change: Network, network, and network some more.

Crafting your career change resume summary should only be the beginning of working toward your new career. When changing careers, one of the most important things you can do is continually network. Whether it is from friends and family or new people you meet in a professional association, course, or conference, you should seek feedback and ways to build your skills in your new career.

And remember, it never hurts to ask. Seek feedback from contacts or potential mentors in your target industry. Hold informational interviews to build relationships, gain informed perspectives, and glean wisdom from those who are looking back from the end of their career.

With a great career change resume summary, you’re on your way to landing that next job in your new field. You’ve got this!

Ready for more job search help?

Sign up for a free Senior Writer Resume Critique to see what's holding you back from landing interviews. One of our top professional resume writers will give you personalized feedback on the top 3 items you can improve based on our expert practices!