Tips for Writing a Resume Profile

Image shows several icons representing the job application process and planning for the future. Text reads:

Image by Theresa Chiechi © The Balance 2019

Some hiring managers recommend that job applicants begin their resume with a resume profile instead of an objective. But what’s the difference, and why might one be better than the other?

A resume profile is a brief summary of an applicant’s skills, experiences, and goals as they relate to a specific job opening. On the other hand, a resume objective simply states the type of position that the applicant is seeking.

Essentially, a profile is a very condensed version of a cover letter. Without restating your entire resume, it matches your qualifications to the job requirements. The intention is to show the hiring manager quickly and convincingly that you are the best person for the job.

A resume profile is also referred to as career summary, personal profile statement, profile statement, resume summary, or summary of qualifications. All refer to profiling your key qualifications for the job on your resume.

Benefits of Using a Profile

A few decades ago, before online job applications became the norm, resume objectives were the standard way to begin “snail mail” resumes.

However, the internet made it possible for employers to exponentially increase their candidate pool. While this was good for employers, it has intensified the competition between job seekers in many industries.

A resume profile offers applicants a way to stand out among the hundreds of resumes that companies receive. Most employers spend only seconds looking at a resume, and much of this time is spent looking at its top half. Therefore, even if employers only read your profile (located directly beneath your heading and contact information), they will still have a clear idea of your unique qualifications.

In addition, your profile should include resume keywords that will help your application get picked up by the applicant tracking system that many companies use to screen applications for job openings.

Resume Profile vs. Resume Objective

Stating an objective on your resume is a way to convince employers that you know what you want in a job, whereas a profile explains what you have to offer the employer and can help sell your candidacy.

Another option is to not use either and simply start your resume with your most recent work experience – but this sacrifices a key opportunity to incorporate the keyword phrases that are vital if your resume is to be ranked highly by applicant tracking systems.

It also makes a hiring manager have to work harder – instead of having a highlighted summary of your qualifications for the job top and center, he or she would have to try to ascertain from the “Experience” section whether you have the skill set required.

Most employers prefer resume profiles to resume objectives, but it's up to you to decide which works best for your resume considering your work experience, skills, the level of the position, and the qualifications for the job for which you are applying.

For example, while an objective might state, "Experienced English teacher seeking position at independent school," a profile would say, “English teacher with 10 years of experience in independent school systems. Success in developing creative teaching strategies to achieve passing grade levels on statewide exams." Unlike the objective, the profile answers the question, "What can this applicant offer the employer?"

As a general rule of thumb, using a resume profile rather than a resume objective is probably the best strategy for professionals with work experience. This is because the profile’s focus is upon the employer’s needs (and how the job candidate can meet these requirements) rather than upon the candidate’s own self-centric career objectives.

Tips for Writing a Resume Profile

Keep your profile concise. A resume profile should be between one and four (brief) sentences long. You can write your profile as a short paragraph or in bullet form. Alternatively, you can also begin with a descriptive sentence followed by four or five bulleted items describing your most desirable qualifications (such as “customer service” or “marketing” or “technical proficiencies”). Here’s an example of what this combined approach looks like:

Sample Profile for a Resume

Compassionate, high-energy Operating Room Nurse with 8 years’ experience serving rural communities via travel contracts.

  • Nursing: Well-versed in handling preoperative, intraoperative, and postoperative stages of emergency and scheduled surgical procedures.
  • Patient Relations: Superb patient communications skills in both English and Spanish, addressing patient and family concerns and providing patient education with clarity and sensitivity.
  • Certifications: Current BLS, PALS, and ACLS certifications.
  • Key Strengths: Proven flexibility and dependability in working challenging shifts; available for overtime scheduling when warranted.

Focus on the job listing. In your profile, only include the skills and qualifications that relate to the specific job for which you are applying. A profile is particularly helpful if you have a work history that is unrelated to your current career goals—it allows you to highlight only your most relevant experience.

Focus on the future. A profile serves to show what you have to offer an employer—what you will do for the company in the future. Look at the job listing for insights into what the company is looking for in an employee. In your profile, explain how you will meet the company’s expectations.

Does a sales director position require someone who can improve the company’s sales record? Your profile may state you are an "Accomplished sales director with success in developing strategies that have generated 6- and 7-figure revenue growth." Explain what you have done as a way of showing the hiring manager what you can and will do if they hire you.

Location matters. It's important that your resume profile or objective is listed where an employer can see it when they first review your resume, so place it at the top of the first page, above your work history.

Resume Profile Examples

It's always helpful to review samples to get ideas for your own resume. Here are sample resume profiles for a variety of job openings.

When writing your own profiles, try to integrate your employment history and skills into the qualifications listed in the job posting, so you appear, at the hiring manager’s very first glance, well-qualified for the job.

Article Sources

  1. CareerOneStop. "Headline and Summary Sample," Accessed Nov. 29, 2019.

  2. CareerBuilder. "Employers Share Their Most Outrageous Resume Mistakes and Instant Deal Breakers," Accessed Nov. 29, 2019.