The Difference Between Professional Summary & Profile on a Resume

by Ruth Mayhew; Updated September 26, 2017

Confusing a professional summary with a profile can wind up costing a job seeker that sought-after interview. A professional summary and a profile on a resume are two very different ways to present the same information. However, a job seeker focuses on preparing a professional summary to present her qualifications and interest to a recruiter. A profile is not likely to be part of a job search because it contains fewer details about actual work experience and more personal information which could be helpful, for example, in introducing a keynote speaker.

Career Objective

Many resumes begin with a career objective. In fact, a professional summary resume might be more likely to contain an objective than would a profile resume. The purpose of a professional summary resume generally is to position a job seeker for the next step on the path to her career objective. A profile resume may not be specifically designed to attract the attention of recruiters looking for qualified applicants. Rather, a profile denotes accomplishments already achieved and a statement of someone at the pinnacle of her career.

Work Experience

Although both a professional summary and profile may feature a careerist's work history, a professional summary is constructed with the recruiter in mind. A job seeker includes a professional summary to describe his previous work history to illustrate why he's qualified for the position. Conversely, a profile briefly lists titles or positions held, which can serve as an introduction to prestigious roles the person occupied.

Personal Information

Resume critics strongly advise against including personal information on a professional summary. With the exception of basic contact information, work history and experience, job seekers who include a professional summary on their resumes should remain relatively anonymous to recruiters -- meaning, they shouldn't include information that could be used to unfairly judge whether they're qualified based on factors not related to the job. A profile -- particularly one for a high-level executive -- might indicate the executive's marital status, places she's lived and even her children's names and ages. The intent of a profile is to provide a snapshot of the person's life, not to persuade a recruiter to call for an interview.

Education

Academic credentials and education both are part of a professional summary as well as a profile. However, a professional summary usually provides more detail about the job seeker's education as it relates to the position he wants. For example, someone who is new to the workforce might include actual coursework or certifications that indicate he's a viable candidate. A profile, on the other hand, may simply state, "John Smith earned his B.A. and Ph.D. in Economics from the University of California, Santa Cruz."

Civic Participation

Job seekers are often cautioned against providing information about community involvement and civic participation that indicates political affiliation or suggests support of groups that exclude members based on race, national origin, sex or disability. Therefore, a professional summary might only include a list of professional associations to which the job seeker belongs, such as the American Bar Association or the American Medical Association. A profile might include affiliations with organizations that indicate political affiliation, such as conservative or liberal think tanks and charitable foundations.

About the Author

Ruth Mayhew began writing in 1985. Her work appears in "The Multi-Generational Workforce in the Health Care Industry" and "Human Resources Managers Appraisal Schemes." Mayhew earned senior professional human resources certification from the Human Resources Certification Institute and holds a Master of Arts in sociology from the University of Missouri-Kansas City.