Resume Writing: Objectives, Summaries, or Professional Profiles

Lesson 5: Objectives, Summaries, or Professional Profiles


Objectives, summaries, or professional profiles


The purpose of a resume is to sell your professional expertise to a hiring manger. The career objective, summary statement, or professional profile is the first advertisement of your skills and expertise that a hiring manger will see. Each one has a slightly different intent and feel.

In this lesson, you will compare statements and understand their purpose. Then you will determine which one is best for you in order to create one for your own resume.

Watch the video below to learn about resume summary statements.

Which should you use?

In the past, most job seekers included a career objective on their resumes to tell hiring managers what types of position they were looking for. A more recent trend is to include a summary statement or a professional profile in place of the objective. However, some job seekers include both an objective and a summary. Regardless of which you choose to include, this area should:

  • Appear just under your contact information
  • Be written with a specific job in mind

Why would you choose to include one statement over the another for your resume? Here are some examples.

Career Profile: Lily

Lily chose to include a career profile to summarize her experience and highlight the key things she wants the hiring manager to know about her. She used a bulleted list to make it easy to scan.

  • She started with a statement about her many years of experience as an RN in a hospital because the job she is submitting her resume for requires more than 5 years as an RN, preferable in a hospital setting.
  • Lily's second bullet emphasized her managerial experience as a Charge Nurse because she is hoping to get a management position.
  • The job posting also requires a candidate who has a proven ability to assess the skills of other nurses. This is why Lily focused this item on similar analytical and assessment skills in her third bullet point.
  • She mentioned that she is a trainer because one of the position responsibilities is to manage the training of staff nurses.

Summary: Zachary


Zachary used a written summary statement to emphasize the skills and experiences he thinks he will need for the job he wants as a project manager.

  • The paragraph format of Zachary's summary statement gives his resume a more personal feel than Lily's bulleted list.
  • He included phrases like proven leadership and effective negotiations to show he is qualified to serve in a managerial role.
  • He also included the phrases strong communication skills and successful completion of projects within budget and on time because these were listed as requirements in the job posting.

Objective: Ashley


Ashley used an objective to tell hiring managers what type of position she is interested in.

  • She rewords this statement each time she submits her resume so her objective matches the job title.
  • Using a career objective was a good choice for Ashley because she just recently graduated. She doesn't have much work experience yet.

Deciding which approach to take

Consider the following as you decide which approach to take on your own resume.

Should you include or omit a career objective?

Fewer and fewer job seekers are including a career objective on their resumes. The trend to omit a career objective stems from recent research showing that candidates have a better chance to be interviewed if they write their resumes to help an employer fill an open position (which is what the employer wants), not to tell the employer what they want.

However, many job seekers still include it along with a professional summary, especially if they are new to the workforce. Note that whether employers expect to see a career objective on your resume is partly dependent upon your field. In some fields, like education, job applicants are still expected to include an objective.

Some resume experts believe including only a simple job title in your objective is better than writing a full statement. For example, these experts would suggest writing a position as a receptionist rather than a full-time position using my strong organization, office management, and customer service skills as a receptionist for an established financial planning firm.

Should you use a summary or profile?

The summary and profile statement do essentially the same thing. A summary statement simply restates the key points of your resume, usually in a short paragraph or a few bullet points. A professional profile also highlights the key points from your resume, but it usually focuses more on your accomplishments and accolades.

What should this section do?

Regardless of which you choose to include on your resume, this section should:

  • Be focused on helping an employer meet his or her goals (this means you will want to write a slightly different objective or summary statement for each job you are trying to get)
  • Start with the most important idea about yourself that you want to tell a hiring manager
  • Be brief but concise (a few bullet points of your best skills and achievements, or a sentence or two that tells a potential employer what you have to offer if he keeps reading)
  • Position you as the best model of whatever position, role, or industry you are trying to enter; this means you should research the position before writing your resume for it
  • Include key words, specifically words that every person in the field or position you are trying to get will understand

Try this!

Download our Chronological Resume Template if you haven't already. If you've already started your resume template from a previous lesson, you can open that document.

You will be working only in the Summary portion of the document for this activity. Please refer to the following picture:


Replace the template text with your own information. Be sure to remove the brackets as you are replacing text.

  1. Modify the Summary of Qualifications section. Do this by replacing the text with either bullet items or a paragraph like the example. Both should summarize your qualifications, career highlights, and areas of expertise.
  2. You can rename this section with an appropriate title. Some possible titles include Profile, Competencies, Professional Background, Accomplishments, or Areas of Strength.
  3. Save the file to your computer. You will be adding more information as you progress through the lessons in this unit.