How do employers that you’ve applied to for a job get a quick idea of who you are and what sort of work you’re looking for? Well, they could always read the cover letter you’ve supplied – if they have the time.
A faster way is to provide a career summary and/or career objective in the top portion of your resume, right below where your name, address and contact info appear.
Your Career Summary
A career summary provides a brief, focused overview of your work history. It tells the employer what your specialty is as an employee, and serves as an introduction to the rest of your resume. Here is an example based on someone who has been working as a Customer Service Representative for the past couple of years:
SAMPLE CAREER SUMMARY: A dedicated, helpful Customer Service Representative with experience in the retail and automotive sectors. Able to work independently and use in-house resources effectively, such as online databases and problem resolution procedures. Willing to do shift work and weekends if required.
Notice that a career summary is often written in paragraph form, with up to four or five sentences. It can be used in all resumes regardless of how much, or how little, work experience you actually have.
Your Career Objective
What if you’re fairly new to the workforce and don’t have much to put in your career summary? Or how about if you’re sending out a mass e-mail (or snail mail) to all sorts of employers without knowing if they’re hiring or not, but you want them to know what kind of job you’d be most interested in?
That’s when stating your career objective comes in handy. It quickly tells employers which type of role they should keep you in mind for. Just like in the following example:
SAMPLE CAREER OBJECTIVE: To secure a mid-level Customer Service job with a respected employer in the hospitality or entertainment industries, with room for upward advancement based on performance.
You can see that a career objective is short and sweet, with just a sentence or two that describes the kind of job (and industry, if you want to be more specific) you’d prefer to be hired for.
It’s possible to add those one or two sentences from your career objective directly to the end part of your career summary if you’re looking to save space. However this makes the career summary longer and your career objective may get overlooked.
Summary Or Objective?
A concise career summary should appear near the top of your resume no matter if you have decades of work experience or are a recent grad. Other terms you can use as a header are “Professional Summary,” “Summary of Experience,” or even “About Me.”
The career objective is helpful if you’re not applying to a specific job posting, but instead are sending out unsolicited applications to potential employers. It can be featured under its own header, or if you’re including it at the end of your summary, you could use the header “Career Summary and Employment Objective.”
Whether you use a summary, objective, or some combination of both, you are helping employers get a quick feel for who you are and what kind of work you’d be best at. So take a few moments to write your own and get it into your resume!