When it comes to applying for jobs, no two of your resumes should be alike. That is to say, your resumes should always be tailored to the specific job and company you’re applying for. Even when you’re applying for similar job positions, your resume will likely require some tweaking to ensure that it perfectly aligns with the position you’re applying for, to give you the best chance of moving forward in the process. And one of the best places to start tweaking is your resume objective or resume summary.
Without further adieu, let’s dig into the difference between resume objectives and resume summaries, and figure out which one is best for your purposes at any given time in your life.
What is a Resume Objective?
A resume objective is a quick one-line statement that, when used, should appear near the top of your resume below your name and contact information. This one-liner should present your objective in sending your resume to a particular company (as the name indicates). A resume objective may look something like this:
To obtain an administrative assistant position in the real estate industry.
It’s a short, sweet line showing your intent.
What is a Resume Summary?
A resume summary, when used on a resume, should also appear below your name and contact information. Your summary should focus more on the company’s goals rather than your own. A resume summary should share the key things you want a hiring manager to know about how your experience applies to the job you want--even if they don’t read through all the way through your resume. They are typically written as a short paragraph or a few quick bullet points, highlighting relevant industry keywords and skills, and positioning you as the right person for the job.
Which should you use--a resume objective or a resume summary?
Now you may be thinking, “Resume Objective, Resume Summary. Tomato, Tomahto. But they in fact are not to be used interchangeably. There are certain situations when a summary would serve your resume and your goals better than a resume objective, and vice versa. While both resume objectives and resume summaries provide an introductory statement, each of them has a different goal and purpose. You see, while resume summaries tend to focus more on the company's needs, a resume objective is focused on the job seeker’s goals.
There are a number of schools of thought on the importance of a resume objective or resume summary. We think that each can be used depending on your situation as a job seeker, and that regardless of which you use, it should be written well. After all, a poorly written statement about yourself or your experiences can end up looking lazy and reflect badly on you. So follow the tips below to write your best objectives and summaries. (And check out the examples to come!)
Resume Objectives are generally written in a more passive voice, providing a statement of who you are and the type of position you’re looking for. They are generally used on a resume if you are one of three types of job seekers:
1. First Timer
When you are entering the job market for the first time after college, you may or may not have a plan for your future yet. However, providing an objective on your resume can help a potential employer determine if your immediate or future goals and aspirations align with any of their job openings. If they do, then an employer may be more open to offering you a position. After all, bright-eyed graduates, eager to gain experience, often make great team members because they don’t already have a set way of doing things and employers can help shape their knowledge and work styles.
2. Career Changer
Whether you’ve been working for a few years, taken a break to raise a family or held one job for 40 years--it may be time for a change. And when that career change happens, a resume objective provides a great forum to not only lay out your goals and aspirations, but to elaborate a bit on why you are making a career change, or re-entering the job market. This is particularly important when you are looking to start a new career in a completely different industry, as providing good reasoning can keep you from looking like an opportunist out to get any and every job.
Providing a resume objective can help keep job recruiters from ruling you out when they see an out-of-state address, etc, since it once again provides a statement for why you are reaching out to them or applying for a job with their company. Oftentimes, it may seem like a mistake when someone from one coast applies for a job on another coast, or in the heartland. The hiring manager may think the applicant was confused, leaving them confused as well. However, noting in your resume objective the reason for your application (moving to a new area, etc), can help alleviate the confusion and increase your chances of your resume moving you forward toward an interview.
However, resume objectives can also be seen as a bit outdated and blase. Since they are typically passive statements focused on oneself, they may come off as selfish, self-centered and like you’re basically just in it for oneself. And while no doubt your reason for seeking a job is somewhat self-focused and driven, companies like to hire and invest in employees who are equally invested in them. Therefore, a resume summary or even something quick-hitting and visual like a resume skills table might be more helpful as it can show what you will actually bring to a company, and why you think you are the best person for a particular job.
So when do you use a resume summary?
Resume Summaries are written in a more active voice, connecting prospects with companies on the basis of, not what the job seeker needs, but what they can offer to the company. It’s a quick snapshot, or elevator pitch if you will, of who you are and why the company should give you the time of day, based on your experience. Your resume summary may quantify or qualify your experience and achievements, thus helping potential employers imagine what you can do for them.
While resume objectives can be used safely enough for the job seekers listed above, a resume summary is what you’d want to use most often, because it is much more helpful for a company to quickly see what you bring to the table--and thus ultimately it’s more helpful to your own goals of securing an interview and getting a job.
Summary statements can go by a number of names, including a personal statement, a professional summary, career summary, resume statement, summary of qualifications or summary of experience. But no matter what you call it, the intent is the same: to present you as the right person for the job, and quickly show a hiring manager why that’s true.
A good Resume Summary should be a quick snapshot of three things: your work experience, your strengths and your accomplishments. These may not all come to you immediately, but take some time to start jotting down some ideas. What are you good at? What are your strengths? What have you worked on in past roles? What skills do you bring to the table? What skills have you used in past jobs? Do you have any qualitative or quantitative accomplishments that could help seal the deal and get you the interview? The resume summary may be fairly short, but it should be meaty.
A resume summary could look something like this:
Certified Contractor with more than a decade of experience in residential and commercial projects. Successful projects include everything from single-family homes to large-scale retail spaces and luxury multi-family units. Proven leadership, project management, organization and project completion. Adept at sticking to budgets and timelines. Hearty communicator adept at managing client and vendor relationships, negotiating projects and ensuring all goals are met to client satisfaction.
Why you should always tailor and tweak your resume and summary / objectives
Today, many recruiters and companies automate the initial step of their process by using software to scan through submitted resumes and rule out those that aren’t a good fit before the recruiter ever lays eyes on them. Therefore, it’s critical to ensure that your resume contains keywords and phrases that AI will be looking for. And in many cases, this means including keywords and phrases from the job posting itself.
However, you should not inflate your resume with untruths just to try to make it past the software’s evaluation as recruiter’s are trained to ask the questions and evaluate answers to separate fact from fiction. So if you are an actual good fit for the job you’re wanting to apply for, then feel free to include keywords and phrases from the job posting directly in your resume if they apply to you.
Once you’ve pulled together your resume objective or resume summary, you can find more tips for perfecting your resume at careerbliss.com. While you’re there, check out company reviews by real current and former employees and research salaries to determine your earning potential!
At CareerBliss, our objective is to help you find a job you love. When employees are passionate about showing up to work and being their best, life is just better. We know it, and all our job seekers who have found their happy jobs and happy careers on our job board know it. Helping people find jobs is our business--helping them find jobs they love is our passion and objective.
And our team of career experts have helped a lot of people find the jobs they love by identifying the happiness factors that really matter for on-the-job satisfaction, and providing resources to help job seekers identify the factors that matter to them and find jobs that meet those standards.
What are you waiting for? Happy job hunting!
The CareerBliss Team
Your career happiness is our #1 priority here at CareerBliss. To help you succeed in your career, we offer a wide variety of tools and resources to help you out along the way. Check out company reviews, salary information, career advice and, of course, millions of jobs on CareerBliss and choose happy today!