Should You Include an Objective or an Executive Summary on Your Resume?

Insights from Resume Writer, Nelly Grinfeld

At Centennial, we strive to provide you with resources that are helpful and relevant to executives today.  With that in mind, we want to take a look at a topic that many executives find daunting and outright confusing: resume writing. It’s a topic we find worth revisiting regularly.

Your resume should be unique to you, but there are some important elements that should be included in every resume.  We can’t give you a set formula, but we can give you some sage advice from a professional resume writer.

Nelly Grinfeld, Nationally Certified Resume Writer

Nelly Grinfeld, a Nationally Certified Resume Writer, is our guest blogger today.  She shares with us some key tips for writing a resume that will receive the attention you desire.  We hope you find her insights helpful as you tackle the task of creating, updating or overhauling your resume.

Objective Statement vs. Summary Statement

If you’re looking for a new job, or are planning on looking for a new job or promotion in the near future, chances are that you’ve thought about your resume. Maybe you’ve even updated it, or have planned to do a complete re-write. And, if you’re a professional who’s been in the workforce for a number of years, you’re probably used to the idea of putting an objective statement at the top of your resume.

Well, times have changed! An objective statement used to be the norm on resumes; it told the reader what you want and what your career goals are. But, guess what? Many hiring managers today care less about your interests and your goals! They want to know what you can do for them. So instead, a strong summary statement is a much better option; it is your first opportunity to catch the reader’s attention and sell them on why you are the answer to the company’s needs.

Start off your resume, right under your name and contact information, with a strong heading. This is a one-line statement or phrase that immediately positions you and tells the reader what the whole resume is about, like in this example:

Executive Management Professional: Lead Teams to Execute Turnarounds and Surpass Sales Goals

Under the heading should be a brief executive summary. Take up a maximum of 4 to 5 lines to spell out the talents, skills, experiences, and advantages that set you apart from the competition. Imagine that the reader will only read this executive summary, and make them want to interview you. Here is an example:

Experienced President and Strategic Leader offering 25+ years expertise propelling operational, financial, and marketing initiatives in diverse service, multi-unit retail, and construction industries. Achieved double-digit growth following catastrophic events: expanded capabilities, implemented new business structures, and developed tactical solutions to get results.  Led business enhancements to positively impact performance in non-profit, corporate, public, and private settings.

Concise, direct, and clear – the highlights of what you want the reader to learn about you. Remember that a resume’s purpose is to effectively market your skills, abilities, and expertise in order to secure or support an interview. Studies have shown that company recruiters and HR managers spend an average of 7 seconds reviewing a resume. So you can imagine why it’s crucial to make it immediately apparent to the reader why you’re a good fit for the position you’re applying for. You can do this by writing a strong heading and an even stronger executive summary.

Make Your Resume ATS-Friendly

resume writingLet’s now turn our attention to another often-overlooked component of resumes. Even if you’re networking your way into a job, most employers today use electronic Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) to scan candidates’ resumes. Using the right font, the right formatting, the right section headings, and the right layout can ensure that your resume passes ATS and actually lands on the hiring manager’s desk. Most importantly, your resume needs to contain the right mix of keywords, since ATS work by matching keywords in your resume to the keywords they are programmed to accept for a particular position. You can discover what the main keywords are for any particular position by closely examining the job posting. And, since a resume that is formatted for ATS can end up looking very plain, I advise job seekers to have two versions; an ATS-friendly resume, and a more visually appealing resume that you can network with.

Your resume needs to not only be appealing, but also organized, concise, and honest. It can be hard to write clearly and briefly, but this is what you must do to focus your message and make sense to the reader. Every word on your resume must have a strong reason for being there. And remember, while you may be an expert in your field, you’re probably not an expert in resume writing; which is why it may be in your best interest to work with a resume writer to effectively market yourself on your resume.

Remember; your resume is like a commercial, and you are the product. Don’t be afraid to tell the world about your talents, accomplishments, and successes, and back them up with specific, quantifiable examples. This way, you’ll set yourself up for a successful interview!


Nelly Grinfeld is a Nationally Certified Resume Writer and Certified Employment Interview Consultant. Nelly works with motivated professionals from all industries and at all career levels to create powerful resumes, cover letters, and LinkedIn profiles, as well as to prepare job seekers to excel at their next job interview. If you are interested in her services, please contact her here.

Whether it's writing blog articles, email drip campaigns, job descriptions, marketing material, or developing presentations, I stay busy sharing the benefits of partnering with a trusted search firm. I thoroughly enjoy creating things that benefit others in simple and clear ways.

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