The Great Debate: Resume Objective vs. Summary
There is often a debate about using either a resume “Objective” or “Summary” on a resume. I am a big advocate of a “Summary” section. I believe that objectives are outdated, and also they leave a lot to be desired. Job seekers traditionally don’t take the extra step to customize their resume objectives based on the jobs they apply to, or even tailor them for what they are truly seeking in their next position. They are usually very bland, generic, statements about how they want to contribute to an organization that appreciates their employees. Well don’t we all.
Summaries, on the other hand, are your selling feature. They are the most important section on your whole resume. Why? Because it summarizes all of the best things about you, at the top of your resume, in a quick snapshot. It is more likely to be read and reviewed during the quick 5-10 second scan that many recruiters and hiring managers do in resume pre-screenings. This is the place where you can professionally brag about your accomplishments and experience.
How do you sell yourself?
The best way to sell yourself, is to quantify a few things to get started. For example:
- Do you have 10 years of experience in a certain industry? Make that a bullet point.
- Do you have experience managing a million dollar budget? Make that a bullet point.
- Have you decreased spending by x%? Make that a bullet point.
- Do you have a proven reputation for hosting websites with 0% downtime in a year? Make that a bullet point.
Once you have listed all of your quantifiable skills (the skills you can put an actual number to), it’s time to move on to any specialty credentials or experience that make you stand out in your chosen field.
- Do you have 1 or more industry certification(s)? List them.
- Do you have an advanced degree in an area that pertains to your field? List it.
- Do you have knowledge of specific topics in your field? (ex: HIPAA, Medical Terminology, ICD-10) List them.
By the end of this exercise, you should have a solid base of 5-10 bullet points from which to draw from, to create a strong resume “Summary” section. Try it. If you can’t come up with a minimum of 5 bullet points based on your experience, try taking a look at some job descriptions that you would be applying to for ideas. If you feel qualified to apply to these jobs, it is likely you have a few of the bullet points they are seeking in their job description.
Some people struggle with “selling themselves” and this is completely understandable. The more humble among us may find it distasteful to toot their own horns. However, sometimes you can let your experience, knowledge, and credentials do the talking for you, and help sell yourself without saying a word. That’s what a strong summary section can accomplish, when done in the right way.
What are your thoughts on Objectives versus Summary sections on a resume? If you have a preference, I’d love to hear about it.