Resume Objective vs. Summary: Differences and Examples

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Writing a strong objective or summary is a key factor in the success of your resume. If you are unsure of the differences between these two components that can go into a resume, it’s important to make sure you understand them before you create your resume. In this article, you can learn the difference between a resume objective and a summary statement.

What is a resume objective?

Typically, a resume objective is one or two lines long at most. In these two lines, you write a concise statement that highlights your qualifications, degrees, what opportunities you are seeking and why you are considering the position at hand. 

A good resume objective will present the following information:

  • What opportunities you are seeking (and why)
  • Why you’re qualified for the position you are seeking
  • Any relevant degrees or certifications you hold

Your resume objective can get a lot of information across in just a few short words. Even if a recruiter reads nothing else, the objective alone can help them understand who you are, why you’re qualified and what you are looking for in your career. 

Here are some examples of different resume objectives: 

Recent graduate example: Self-driven, communicative young graduate with a degree in marketing from Baylor University. Looking for opportunities in the field of sales that will allow me to leverage my advertising skills.

Mid-level professional example: Highly effective frontline salesman with experience in cold outreach and call center marketing. Seeking opportunities as a sales manager where I can coach sales teams to hit new targets. 

Senior-level professional example: Experienced salesman with a proven track record in digital marketing and cold outreach seeking new opportunities to leverage my talents. I hold an MBA in marketing and have a decade-long history as the sales team leader for an expansive regional company. 

What is a resume summary?

Resume summaries are longer statements that allow you to use specific examples that highlight your qualifications and how those qualifications apply to the specific position you’re considering. A great summary covers your level of experience, your achievements, the value you can bring, the industry you are seeking a career in and your current goals.

A summary on your resume should cover a few key points, including the following:

  • Why you are qualified for the job. You can answer this question by mentioning any certifications, degrees or special training you have received.
  • What experience you can bring to the role. Highlight past work experiences that show the skills the job posting requested.
  • How you have used your abilities to get results. Use quantifiable achievements, like how many sales you made at your previous employer to help you demonstrate your value.

A summary sets the tone for the rest of your resume, so you can use it to show hiring managers your professionalism. In some cases, people personalize their summaries to best fit the specific position they want. You may need to adjust the summary for each job application if the roles or responsibilities are different. You can think of your summary as your elevator pitch that helps employers see why they should hire you. 

Here are some examples of different resume summaries:

Recent graduate example: Recent graduate of the nation’s leading technology university with experience coding enterprise-level software. Completed an internship at Google, handling the responsibilities of a full-time technical assistant.

Mid-level professional example: More than seven years of experience as a strategic analyst for a growing financial-technology startup. Highly developed leadership and management abilities combined with strong industry knowledge to support branding initiatives, product launches and day-to-day management.

Senior-level professional example: Respected leader in the human resources department with more than 10 years of experience managing operations, projects and staff in a corporate environment. Excellent track record in assembling cross-functional design teams and overseeing the launch and redesign of countless projects that drive engagement, efficiency and revenue for an international company. 

How to decide between an objective and a summary for your resume

Once you know the difference between an objective and a summary, you can decide which is best for your situation. 

Here are some steps to help you decide which statement you want to include in your resume:

1. First, avoid focusing on soft skills and buzzwords

If you are a recent graduate, it’s likely that someone already suggested that you include an objective at the start of your resume. However, because resume objectives can lead you to rely on buzzwords and soft skills that are not easy to quantify, many recruiters prefer summaries.

2. Then, get specific about your achievements

To make an effective resume objective, you should detail statements like ‘self-driven’ with an example of how you have taken initiative in a meaningful way in a past position. Without examples, the resume objective can be vague and too focused on your wants, needs and goals, while a good resume focuses on what you can provide for the employer. Using a summary instead of an objective will automatically require you to be more specific. 

3. Lastly, consider using a summary in most situations 

While a resume objective may sound easier to create, a summary can show your value better. When you write your summary, consider the specific position you are applying for and its requirements, and then use past experience to showcase how you have used the skills the new position calls for. In general, just remember to be concise and follow the best practices that apply to resume writing.