Differences Between a Resume Objective and Summary

Differences Between a Resume Objective and Summary

At the top of most resumes, you will find a summary or an objective. But what are the differences between a resume objective and summary? It turns out the differences are quite important and very big.

1. Objectives are almost obsolete. Summaries are common.

You will find this is a popular opinion amongst those who have to read resumes and make hiring decisions: “Objectives are dead”. This advice usually appears right next to advice on how to write the perfect summary.

The reason objectives are not commonly used is explained below. Currently, more than 90% of resumes contain a summary instead of an objective. You will find more advice from resume writers stating why objectives should be completely left off. However, there is a time and place for them.

2. Objectives are what the job candidate wants. Summaries are what the job candidate provides.

Objectives used to be all about, “I plan on doing this in my career and this is where I hope to be one day.” They were statements of ambitions geared to let the company know your objectives are aligned with the job description and company. If you wanted to state what your mission is to an employer, an objective would be great.

However, over the last 15 to 20 years companies started finding a summary much more useful. The company has its objectives, and summaries show if the job candidate can help the company achieve them.

Ultimately, companies wanted to know more about the value the job candidate brings to the company and what he/she could do for the business. The summary is more of a “giving” statement than a “wanting” statement.

3. Objectives are suited for college graduates or career changes.

Objectives work great for those with no experience to add in a summary. You would use an objective to explain what you want to do because you have no experience to summarize.  

The same applies if you are changing careers. You have to state what you intend to do because a summary is for those with a long work history in a specific career.

4. Objectives and summaries are structured differently.

An objective can almost be structured like a really short cover letter of only a few sentences. A summary will be more focused on the needs of the employer while still remaining short and succinct. Both an objective and summary can be about the same length of 40 to 50 words.

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