Career Objective vs. Career Summary on a Resume

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


Updated March 2021

The Difference Between a Career Objective and a Career Summary

Located at the top of your resume, the career objective or career summary provides employers with a quick introduction to who you are as a prospective employee. There are a few factors that determine which statement is preferable. The key differences between a career objective versus a career summary can help you choose which one is better when crafting your resume.

What is a Career Objective and When Should You Use It?

A career objective is one or two lines long. It covers your career goals in a short, general statement packed with words describing yourself as a professional. Mostly, career objectives have a lot to do with your personal needs and aspirations. Those with minimal work experiences, such as recent grads and teens looking for their first job, should use this approach.

How to Write a Career Objective

When writing a career objective, focus on the job you’re applying to as well as your long-term goals. Show your willingness to learn and a desire to grow in a short statement that describes your skills and intended path. For instance, if you aspire to be a master carpenter, odds are you’ll start in construction. Tailor your career objective to draw a clear line from where you are to where you want to go.

There are two easy ways to start your career objective. You can say who you are by labeling yourself as a student or professional and then briefly discussing your ambitions. Alternatively, applicants might want to dive right into their objectives, beginning with a statement related to what they hope to achieve.

Examples of a Career Objective

Your career objective should be personalized and unique to your experience and goals, though the overall approach and format are generally the same. Consider these samples to help you develop your statement:

Career Objective – Sales Job at a Furniture Store

“I am a college graduate with a proven sales record, creative marketing experience, and excellent communication skills. I hope to put my abilities to use in a way that will help an organization grow exponentially.”

Career Objective – Front Desk Job at a Hotel

“Job seeker looking to secure a mid-level customer service role in the hospitality industry. My goal is to gain experience in the field and advance my career through exceptional performance.”

What is a Career Summary and When Should You Use One?

A career summary goes into depth about your work experience in a certain field. It includes achievements, awards, and titles you held. You can talk about your current goals in a way that relates to the job you want. About a paragraph long, it gives employers an idea of what you contribute to the industry. People with an established work history should use a career summary on their resume.

How to Write a Career Summary

A longer, more detailed version of a career objective, the career summary focuses on a person’s experience and success in a particular field. When writing a career summary for a resume, highlight your skills and achievements. Show the hiring company how they can benefit from having you as their new hire. It should focus less on your wants and needs and more on your field.

When summarizing your work history, emphasize your previous experience. The intent should be to show employers how your accumulated abilities can transfer to and help their company. Whether you’ve been working as a mechanic for the past decade or spent two years as a barista, your background shows managers what you can do and that you can apply your skills effectively.

Examples of a Career Summary

Check out these examples of career summaries to help you write your own. Notice how the statements mention a level of work experience, types of skills, and what the applicant plans to do for the business:

Career Summary – Job in Fashion Retail

“Motivated sales professional with five years of experience in the field 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.”

Career Summary – Financial Advisor Position at a Firm

“With ten years of financial planning experience, I’ve maintained over 150 client relationships while helping develop and manage a new financial planning system for the company. I hope to apply my eye for innovation and strong ability to build relationships with clients to a larger scale operation.”

Should You Use a Career Objective or Career Summary?

From first-time job seekers to professionals making a career change, these statements can help applicants explain to employers what makes them a good fit. Make sure your writing reads clearly and that it communicates your intent. When you bring your resume to the interview, your career objective or summary provides a good starting point to discuss your candidacy.

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