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What's the Difference? Resume Objectives, Summaries, & Profiles Explained

Anytime that you can make the recruiter’s job easier, the better. Recruiters typically have an average of 118 applicants per open position according to Forbes if not more applicants than that based on the company size.  Consider the first thing employers may read on the resume...resume objectives, summaries, or profiles. Are these just different names for the same thing? The short answer is no--however, you need to pick just one of these rather than having a combination! Make sure you are using what sells you the best AND helps the person reading the resume understand why you are a fit for the job. The following will explain the purpose of each and how to write them. 


Resume objectives tell the employer what type of employment you are seeking—they typically call out a specific position. Objective statements are goal oriented, focus on your future, and may indicate when you are available to work (helpful especially for intern/co-op seekers).  An effective objective statement also includes 2-4 selling points or strengths that the candidate has to offer.  Ideally, the objective would be 2 lines max. 

Computer engineering student seeking an internship or co-op applying academic focus in hardware, related team project experience, and analytical thinking skills.  Available starting May 2016; open to relocation.


Resume summaries include all of the qualifications that you possess and are hoping to showcase. They highlight your past accomplishments. Resume summaries are typically written out in a paragraph style format and may give highlight personal qualities in order to give the reader a sense of the candidate’s personality.   Typically a summary is 4-5 sentences. 

Self driven and results-oriented industrial engineering student with a successful background in process improvement and quality control. Nine months full-time work experience gained through internships and co-ops at Manufacturing Inc. and #1 Systems Company.  Six Sigma experience and track record of achievements in engineering project teams.  Possess a collaborative team approach, excel at completing projects in a timely manner, and conscious of budget throughout projects.  Skilled in the use of MS Project, MS Excel, AutoCAD, and SOLIDWORKS.


Profiles summarize the candidate’s relevant experience and highlight the main selling points that the person is trying to emphasize.  Typically a profile will be a bulleted list of items for easier reading.  The bulleted items will be based on experiences and skills that can be backed up with evidence based statements. 


  • Engineer-in-Training, passed the NCEES Fundamentals of Engineering (FE), February 2016
  • Strong academic Civil Engineering background, with focus on Structural Engineering
  • Hands on experience using power tools, conducting repairs, and performing electrical work
  • Strong communicator—developed skills through previous involvement in Toastmasters International
  • Experienced working collaboratively in engineering project teams with people from diverse backgrounds to achieve common goals

Regardless of whether you opt for an objective, a summary, or a profile, remember the following:

  • Know that regardless of which you choose (and you should only choose one!), these sections are listed first in the order of headings on the resume.
  • Do not use personal pronouns as it is a standard convention to omit pronouns from a resume.
  • Relate the “selling points” to the job(s) for which you are applying (translation: pick qualities to highlight that speficially match up with qualities listed in the job description).

Know that everyone is going to have different opinions regarding what you should use…you need to determine what suits YOU best because you will not be able to please everyone given the differing opinions.  For more help fine tuning your resume and putting your best foot forward, feel free to contact ECS.

"Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing." 
-Benjamin Franklin

Categories: Resumes

About the author

Rachel Kaschner

Rachel Kaschner is the Assistant Director at Engineering Career Services.