On the Resume: Objectives and Summaries

When writing or revising your resume, many begin with the objective statement or summary of qualifications. These sections are not identical, so it is important to understand clearly what role each one fills before getting started.

An objective statement typically consists of two parts: what type of position you are seeking and specific qualifications you possess for that position. On the other hand, a summary of qualifications differs in both length and format. A summary can use bullet points, columns, and other formatting to showcase your best qualifications, while an objective is typically one to two lines. Although a summary can be longer than an objective, remember that it shouldn’t take up too much of the page. Think of it as the introduction to your top qualifications, not a complete summary of your previous experience.

In most cases, you will want to use a summary to introduce the resume. Try talking about a few points and expanding on your goals (see below!) to create the summary. If you are having issues finding great specific details, areas of expertise, and other points, then you can consider using the very short objective.

Remember to be as specific as possible in either the summary or objective. Instead of stating that you are looking for “a full-time job to utilize experience,” be sure to state the industry, job title, and even the company you are applying for. The same rules apply for whatever qualifications you include. Simply stating you want to utilize your education and experience isn’t enough – everyone has some kind of education and experience! Instead, be more specific. Reflect the original posting – if an employer wants a certain quality, listing it at the top of your resume shows them immediately you are a good fit. These two sections, like the rest of the resume, work best if you modify them each time you send out a resume to ensure that it matches the position you are currently applying for.

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