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Let’s face it: A well-written resume that follows all the rules can feel pretty lifeless and generic.

You’ve listed your past experiences in the form of achievement-focused bullet points, included keywords from the job description, and pared it down to design elements an applicant tracking system (ATS) can parse, and now your resume is an accurate representation of your professional qualifications. But you can’t shake the feeling that who you are as a person or what you really want your resume reader to know about you is getting a bit lost.

So how can you make all of that clear to whoever’s reading your resume and still be professional? That’s where a resume profile comes in.

What Is a Resume Profile?

A resume profile is a few concise sentences or bullet points that can be placed at the top of your resume (below the header) and quickly read by a recruiter or hiring manager. Overall, a resume profile “describes who you are as a professional,” says Muse career coach Yolanda Owens, founder of CareerSensei, who worked as a college corporate recruiter for over 20 years.

Career professionals don’t all agree on the exact contents of a resume profile, or even on whether it’s different from a resume summary. So you have a bit of flexibility in how you think about yours and what you include in it. For example, you might think of a resume profile as a way to “tell the reader who you are, what you do, and what you’re looking for,” so that you grab their attention and “quickly showcase your accomplishments,” says Muse career coach and former recruiter Jennifer Smith, founder of Flourish Careers. Or you might approach your resume summary like Owens does as the equivalent to “a dating profile that describes how you see yourself at work, the type of work environment that makes you feel productive and purposeful, and what you’re looking for in your next role in terms of challenges and learning.”

Whatever approach you go with, a resume profile is “a space to tell the employer things you want [them] to know about you that you may not be able to portray in your experience bullet points,” Owens says. For example, a resume profile may help show more of your personality or tell an employer what you’re looking to do next.

So How Is a Resume Profile Different From a Resume Summary or Objective?

While some career coaches or other job search resources may use the terms resume profile and resume summary interchangeably, others treat them differently. A resume summary is a quick synopsis of the relevant experience and skills you bring to a role. A resume profile can do the same, but it can also focus on your traits and achievements, your story as a professional, and your desires for your next role, Smith says.

So if a resume profile includes what you’re looking for in your next role, how is it different from a resume objective? You may have heard that resume objectives are outdated at best and a waste of space at worst. If that’s true, why is a resume profile acceptable? The difference, Smith says, lies in “the additional context that’s included in the profile.” A traditional objective merely states what you’re looking for and maybe a vague reason why. But “the profile goes deeper into who you are and what you do” in addition to what you’re looking for next, connecting your past and present to your future.

Who Should Use a Resume Profile?

Resume profiles can be advantageous for all job seekers, Smith says. However, “People who are changing either their role or industry should definitely have one.” If you’re a career changer, a strong, explicit resume profile will give you space to tell the reader right up front that, no, you didn’t apply to this job by mistake—this is the next step in your career and here’s why. As a career changer, a resume profile lets you own your narrative as a professional, Owens says, rather than allowing recruiters and hiring managers to speculate.

Resume profiles are also especially useful for entry-level candidates who may need to tie their education and other experiences together more explicitly for those reading their resumes. So if a candidate is writing an entry-level resume, Owens suggests that they “use the profile section to explain what they’re looking for in their next role in terms of challenges and learning, and the skills they possess that could potentially add value.” Smith adds that you should highlight any of your experiences that showcase leadership skills, such as being captain of a sports team or holding a position within a club.

What Should You Include in a Resume Profile?

Think about what you’d want the person reading your resume to know first. Is it something about your qualifications or your biggest accomplishment? Is it how well you work with others or what your personality adds to a team? This is what should go into your resume profile. But you have a few sentences (or bullets) to work with, so don’t restrict yourself to highlighting just one thing.

Here are a few types of information that you can include in a resume profile, according to our coaches:

  • Relevant skills and experiences
  • Relevant achievements and accomplishments
  • Years of experience
  • Strengths as a professional (both soft and hard skills)
  • Signature traits related to the job
  • Personal traits that contribute to your work
  • Qualities you’re looking for in your next role, team, or company
  • Willingness to relocate (if you’re applying to a job not near the location listed on your resume)

What Are Recruiters Looking for in a Resume Profile?

Don’t underestimate the power of a good first impression to get someone to keep reading the rest of your resume with interest. “The resume profile has an ability to quickly convince a recruiter that the person is a strong, qualified candidate,” says recruiter and Muse career coach Steven Davis, founder and CEO of Renaissance Solutions.

But recruiting isn’t just about making sure candidates have the right skills, Owens says. Recruiters also need to get a feel for whether the team and work environment will be a good match for the candidate long term. Candidates’ skills and experiences should be well represented throughout their resumes, so as a recruiter, Owens most often “looked at the profile as a way to get a sense of the candidate’s work persona and gauge environment fit for the role.”

How Do You Write a Resume Profile?

Once you know what recruiters and hiring managers are looking for in your resume profile and what you’d like to portray, you can follow these tips as you write your own:

  • Keep it concise. Your resume profile should be no more than four sentences or bullet points.
  • Decide if you want to use either bullet points or paragraph form. Your resume profile can be written as bullet points, but keep in mind that bullet points often take up more space than a paragraph. “To preserve real estate on the resume and attempt to keep it to one to two pages, I always recommend using paragraph format,” Owens says.
  • Tailor your profile to the job, but not so much that it’s not true to who you are. If your resume profile is closer to a summary that highlights your key qualifications and accomplishments as they relate to a given job, you should be tailoring it very carefully for each application and incorporating keywords from the job description. However, if your resume profile is more of a personal (but still professionally appropriate) description of yourself, Owens recommends against tailoring it to match each job: “What you don’t want to do is try to tell employers what you think they want to hear,” she says, if it doesn’t reflect who you are. “That’s how you end up in positions where you’re ultimately unhappy.”
  • Quantify your experiences and accomplishments. Whenever possible add numbers, percentages, and other metrics to the accomplishments you highlight in your resume profile.
  • Show some personality (as appropriate). While the rest of your resume won’t let much of your personality shine through, your profile gives you an opportunity for creativity. If you’re applying to a casual company, you can add a splash of personality, but if you’re applying to a more formal organization, it’s best to keep things more buttoned up.

What Does a Resume Profile Actually Look Like? Read These Examples!

What does all this advice look like in action? Check out these resume profile examples for different types of job seekers and jobs.

Career Changer

Quality-control team lead with 10+ years experience who specializes in making thorough business decisions and leading others through day-to-day operations to achieve excellence. Decided to transition to the outdoor recreation industry during the COVID-19 pandemic after realizing that people, especially children, spend too much time indoors behind computer screens. Excited to bring experience in quality assurance and operations to a management position at an outdoor recreation facility to help people of all ages get outside and enjoy themselves safely.

Recent College Graduate or Entry-Level Candidate

Recent magna cum laude animal sciences graduate with a focus on small animal care excited to bring passion and knowledge to a position with an animal shelter or animal-focused nonprofit and learn more about programs that protect animals from euthanasia. As president of the University of Georgia chapter of the Association of Shelter Veterinarians, planned, organized, advertised, and managed a fundraiser that brought in over $20,000 in donations to a local shelter while also placing 43 cats and dogs with adoptive families. Proud dog mom of two former shelter pets, Dakota and Miley (pictures available upon request).

Account Executive (Sales)

Account executive who has been making deals since my first lemonade stand at age four for a total of $20+ million in sales. I love the rush of being on a sales team working toward goals—both in exceeding my own targets and in cheering on my teammates and celebrating their wins. In my current role, I’ve discovered that the most satisfying feeling of all was teaching a few of our SDRs to close deals. Seeing how proud they were of themselves as they got better motivated me to seek out a sales training role at a highly collaborative company.

Accountant

A detail-oriented accountant with experience preparing tax and financial reports for charities to be posted publicly online. Evaluated budget (including payroll) for inefficiencies and suggested cost-cutting and time-saving measures that ultimately allowed the nonprofit to put an additional 5% of yearly donations directly into charitable programs. Excited to bring accounting skills to a nonprofit in the public health sector after spending over five years volunteering for public health charities suchs as the Red Cross and Project N95.

Customer Service Representative

An empathetic customer service representative who loves getting to talk to new people every day and help them solve problems. Crafted service approach of finding out what customers’ goals are and what their level of expertise in the product was rather than automatically giving boilerplate advice, leading to a 92% customer satisfaction rating. Avid video game player and designer looking to bring this passion to a customer service role for a gaming company.

Human Resources Manager

Human resources generalist who oversaw the transition of a 100+ employee company to remote work during the COVID-19 pandemic. Adept at dealing with the issues facing fully remote or hybrid workforces, including in hiring, professional development, and conflict resolution. Conceived of and instituted DEI programs for employees working from home. Looking for a position with a company that has a fully distributed or hybrid workforce and is committed to increasing diversity in its hiring pool.

Marketing Manager

Email marketer with 6+ years of experience gathering data-driven insights to make decisions about marketing campaigns. Conceived, proposed, and executed a campaign for a new headphone line across all marketing channels including email, social, content marketing, and print ads, with a total reach of 30 million impressions leading to over $1 million in sales. A team player who has taken the time to learn what each teammate in 10-person marketing department does and even filled in for them when needed. Excited to find a position in a collaborative work environment that oversees marketing campaigns across multiple channels.

Office Administrator

  • Friendly, organized, and proactive administrative assistant with four years of experience looking to move into an office administrator role
  • Saved office over $3,000 per quarter in supplies by creating new inventory tracking document on Google Sheets, showing other employees how to check supply levels and request orders, and comparing the supply sheet to inventory every two weeks to stop duplicate supply orders
  • Spent four months filling in for office manager during maternity leave

Project Manager

Looking for a project manager who can save at-risk initiatives and projects and make sure they come in on time and under budget and are fully functional at launch? I’ve held positions in customer care, engineering, product, and communications, so I know how to work with employees in all departments and see a project from multiple angles, ensuring each piece is on track and communicating with stakeholders along the way. I work best in environments where innovation is encouraged and no one expects to wear just one hat.

Web Developer

  • Back-end web developer with experience using Java, Python, and SQL to develop features for online databases
  • Go-to debugger on team of seven engineers
  • Developed a site (link) that uses television shows you’ve watched to suggest new shows based on the ratings and recommendations of users with similar watch histories, bringing in an average of 10,000 visitors monthly