The LLoyd blog: hidden talent.

Resume – Objective vs. Summary?

By Sharon Nocella, CSP, TSC, Executive Director, LLoydIT

Hundreds – maybe thousands of articles exist on writing a great resume – so how come so many people still get it wrong? Sometimes format is generational and sometimes it’s just plain confusion, but a resume is still the main vehicle for communicating your candidacy for a position to an employer. Today, savvy job seekers are producing more modern, marketing-driven and personal branded documents, but their function is the same as the traditional resume; to get you the interview. You get yourself the job.

So let’s start on a section that seems to offer the most confusion to many. Objective vs. Professional Summary? What’s the difference and why does it matter?

Until fairly recently (before digital became mainstream), resume objectives were the norm; it’s that area just below your name and contact information letting prospective employers know what kind of position you were looking for in a job. But ask most Recruiters or Hiring Managers today if they feel an objective is necessary and you’ll likely hear a resounding “NO!” A Summary, rather, is more highly preferred as it acts as an overview of your experience and skill sets that make you a more viable candidate for the position. Think of it in a similar way as a LinkedIn headline – something readers have become accustomed to in a social media culture.

Given the fact that your resume will get under ten seconds of attention by the prescreening or HR Manager, your Summary matters now more than ever. It almost acts like a shortened version of a cover letter and is a great opportunity to catch a Recruiter or Hiring Manager’s attention, particularly when peppered correctly with highly desirable keywords seen most often in the positions you are targeting. These keywords are important to your reader, but are equally important for capturing your information when an applicant tracking system (ATS) is doing the initial resume search.

Here are a few tips to give your Summary that “wow” factor:

  • Tailor your Summary to the role/specific opening.

Does the job require certification? Must your background include 7+ years of experience in .Net development? Do you need experience working with Developers to qualify for that QA role? This information should ideally be included in your summary.

  • Be succinct and highlight your top skills.

While your summary is the perfect place to grab the reader’s attention, it’s not the place to go on and on. An ideal summary should be 3-5 sentences long, giving enough of a background overview, highlighting your top skills and making the person reviewing it want to speak to you, or at least, read on.

  • Set yourself apart.

What special skills do you possess that may set you apart from other candidates? Write about that in your Summary and expand on it. For example, if you applying for a Project Manager position and you not only possess the required PMP certification but also a CCNP certification that would give you a leg up in understanding how to manage an IT infrastructure project, make sure you add that in your Summary.

In short, a Summary is much more effective than an Objective in conveying to the Recruiter or Hiring Manager why they should talk to you. It’s also more modern and shows you are not out of step with workplace hiring. It’s worth taking the time to rework your Summary for the role you hope to land. Proofread, make yourself stand out; however, you can get help when you need it. If you’re looking for a Recruiter to help with your job search or another pair of eyes on that Summary, connect with me or send me an email. I’m happy to share my expertise and experience in this area.

Here’s an example to better understand the distinction…


About the Author:
Sharon Nocella, CSP, TSC is an experienced Operations Manager and Recruiter who is passionate about client and candidate customer service.  She has a demonstrated history of working in the IT, software, staffing, recruiting and legal industries. She is a dedicated professional skilled in Operational Management, Technical Recruiting, Staffing Services, Internet Recruiting, IT Staffing and Augmentation, Project Rollouts and Training. Sharon welcomes connecting with IT professionals seeking interesting and challenging work engagements and is always happy to speak with employers looking for quality technology talent to augment and enhance their workforces.

Contact Sharon

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