Should You Write a Resume Summary or Resume Objective?
A good resume that increases your chances of scoring an interview should be clear, concise and tailored to each job. More than that, though, a resume needs to instantly draw a recruiter's eye to the most vital and relevant information regarding your suitability for a position.
That's where your opening objective or summary statement comes in. Recruiters are notorious for scanning resumes in a matter of seconds, so it's important to differentiate yourself from other job seekers right from the get-go. One of the best ways to do so is with an expertly honed introductory statement that instantly gives readers an idea of who you are and what you're capable of.
The question is, which is right for you: a resume summary or a resume objective? We dissect the two options here.
The resume summary
A resume summary is a succinct paragraph or bulleted list that highlights some of your key competencies, accolades and achievements. It sums up the value you can add to a company. Brooke Bolton Hall, the president and owner of Accent Professional Recruiting, recommends including a resume summary if you've already gained experience in your industry. "You would use a resume summary if you've been in the workforce for a while or when applying for a higher-level role," Hall explains.
Hall believes that keeping your summary short, valuable and free of clichés is key. "Two to four sentences for a resume summary is ideal, but make sure you include something tangible, like dollar amounts, percentages or anything else that has real meaning, within that text," she says. "Avoid buzzwords like 'team player' and 'multitasker'. Rather, ensure your resume summary speaks to your strengths, skill set and most relevant past experiences."
The resume objective
While the resume summary is the best option most of the time, there are specific circumstances when it might be necessary to include a resume objective, which is a statement that outlines the goal of your job search.
Michael Steinitz, global executive director of Accountemps, a Robert Half company, explains, "Candidates with limited experience in a field, such as new graduates or professionals seeking a career transition, could benefit from adding a brief statement explaining their interest in the position if their prior experience doesn't directly correlate with the open role."
It's especially important to include an objective statement if you're changing industries — if you don't briefly explain what your aims are, hiring managers may wonder why you're applying for a position that doesn't align with your background. Your objective statement should be short and articulate your career goals, but it should also highlight how you can meet the employer's needs, position you as a good fit and align with keywords from the job ad. Avoid using generic objectives and tailor each one to the position you're applying for.
Remember that a resume summary and a resume objective are not interchangeable: they have very specific purposes. When executed properly, the appropriate introductory statement can set you apart from the rest, but it's vital that your whole resume is strong if you want to increase your chances of getting an interview.
Resume-Now can help you build a professional summary or objective statement with its Resume Builder, which provides job-specific suggestions to help you fill every section of your resume.