Career Objective vs. Career Summary on a Resume

Posted on May 26, 2017 by Doug Crawford, Job Applications.com


It is crucial to have a solid opening in your resume, whether it is a career objective or a career summary. A common question for people who are writing a resume is whether they should use a career objective or a career summary. In general, it is better to write a career objective when you are seeking to switch fields, if you do not have a lengthy career history in your field or if you are a student/recent graduate. A career summary is best suited for someone who has an established work history, in a particular field.

Writing a career objective or a career summary is pretty straightforward. You want to highlight your best skills in a way that will seal the deal for the potential employer. Are you an excellent communicator? Tell them! Do you have a great knack for marketing? Tell them! Do you blow people away with how organized you are? Tell them! The point is to up-talk yourself and your skill-set. It’s not something that comes easily for most people and really, that is a good thing. We are taught to be humble people but this is not a time to be humble. This is a time to brag, show-off and flaunt your skills!

Now, the difference in writing a career objective vs. a career summary is that you are much more focused on what you will do for the potential employer, when writing an objective. When looking at what the word “objective” really means, Webster’s Dictionary says it is, “involving or deriving from sense perception or experience with actual objects, conditions, or phenomena .” What does that mean in regards to a resume? Show your experiences with actual objects (i.e. are you awesome at installing hardwood floors or are you a master at jewelry making?) or with conditions/phenomena (i.e. you can really find your way around Microsoft Office or you can show your sales expertise by your impressive sales record). An example objective:

“To provide a proven sales record, a successful management style, creative marketing experience and excellent communication skills in a way that will help an organization to grow exponentially.”

When writing a career summary, you will focus solely on what you have done, not so much on what you are looking for (as in a career objective). As I said previously, sell yourself! Talk about all of your wonderful, marketable, desirable skills. Someone isn’t going to want to hire you if you say something like, “Salesman with 5 years of experience selling shoes.” Al Bundy, anyone? You need to explain what your experience is and why someone would want to hire you. Tell about your interpersonal skills, your work experience and anything else that will help you get your foot in the door. An example summary:

“Experienced and motivated sales professional with an emphasis in selling shoes for a high-end fashion company. Seeking a long-term sales position in a diverse organization where I can showcase my communication, customer service and organizational skills.”

Do you see the difference in how just having a basic summary is so blah compared to writing a descriptive, marketable summary? It really does make a big difference in how you are perceived by an employer.

In summary, remember to focus on a career objective if you are new to the job market, inexperienced or looking for a job change. Career summaries are best-suited for someone who has an established presence in their field. When in doubt about what is the best format to use, turn to a resume service for additional, professional help.

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