Each week, TopResume's career advice expert, Amanda Augustine, answers user questions on Quora like the one below. We'll be republishing those answers here. A certified professional career coach (CPCC) and resume writer (CPRW), Amanda has been helping professionals improve their careers for over 10 years. Have a question for Amanda? Submit it here.

Q: What is the difference between a resume objective and a resume summary?

A: A resume objective statement is usually one or two lines long that talks about your goals. Here's a really common example of a pretty generic resume objective:

“Motivated, fast learner who recently graduated with a degree in [___]; looking for opportunities in the [___] field that will allow me to leverage my [___] skills.”

When you first graduated from college or started looking for a job, chances are someone advised you to include an objective statement like this at the top of your resume. And chances are, you still use some version of this statement on your resume today.

However, this type of resume objective statement has quickly become an outdated custom that's best forgotten for a few good reasons.

  1. It's vague.

  2. It's typically full of fluffy marketing buzzwords that don't have a lot of substance (Don't say you're a “fast learner” — explain how you've quickly picked up a skill and used it to provide value to a previous employer).

  3. It's all about you — your wants, needs, and goals — when it should focus on what you can do or provide to your target employer or hiring manager.

 A resume summary statement, on the other hand, focuses on highlighting your qualifications (i.e. your selling points) for the job you're targeting.

A good resume professional summary will mention your level of experience, achievements/value, industry (assuming this is relevant), and your current job goals. This section of your resume will set the tone and focus for the rest of the document, so give it some careful thought.

Think of it as your opportunity to deliver your elevator pitch to prospective employers or hiring managers, rather than a place to list out your personal needs and wants. I recommend asking yourself the following questions to figure out what you want to include in this section of your resume:

  • Why am I qualified for the job I'm targeting?

  • What about my experience, education, and most relevant skills make me a good candidate for this type of job?

  • How have I used these abilities in the past to create results and provide value to my previous clients or employers?

Some people refer to this section as a resume professional summary, but it is also known as a “career statement,” a “career summary,” or an “executive summary.” Below are a few examples of resume professional summaries appropriate for different stages of your career.

Sample Resume Summary: Recent College Graduate

“Recent graduate of a top-tier university with experience developing and analyzing cost models, performing quality assurance reviews, and building process solutions to improve forecast accuracy and compliance for internal and external clients…”

Sample Resume Summary: Mid-Level Professional

“Strategic marketing communications professional with seven years of experience across a broad range of marketing disciplines and expertise in Technology, Fintech, and Financial Services industry segments. Combine vision and strong industry knowledge with well-developed project management and leadership abilities to support campaign development, product launches, and branding initiatives to set companies and products up for success.”

Sample Resume Summary: Senior-Level Professional

“Respected human resources leader with more than 10 years' professional experience overseeing operations, projects, and staff in healthcare organizations. Proven track record in guiding sizable, cross-functional teams in the design, redesign, and launch of cutting-edge business solutions, driving greater efficiency, engagement, and revenue for national organizations…”

If you are deciding between resume objective statements or resume summary statements, it's best practice for job seekers to go with the professional resume summary. Use the above examples to edit your resume summary to help ensure more job-search success.

Read Amanda Augustine's answer to "What is the difference between a resume objective statement and a resume summary?" on Quora.

Not sure if your professional resume summary is up to par? Send in your resume for a free review from one of our expert writers now!

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