In a prior posting I indicated that many recruiters only look at the top half of the first page—commonly called “above the fold”. This is where your resume can make or break you with each recruiter. Last time I wrote about your contact information (your name, phone number, etc.), so as I keep working down the page of a resume, the next item I’ll cover is the Objective statement.
Let me start off by saying that this topic is highly contested among resume writers and reviewers…it can easily start a fist-fight between two otherwise sane professionals. Most people say to never use it (opting for a Summary Statement instead, which is most often the better choice), while others say to always use it, and there aren’t many fence sitters on this issue. So let’s get to the easy answers first.
Who “should” use it?
- College graduate looking for your first job (You probably have no real work history and I don’t want to have to figure out what it is you want to do with your life, so you better tell me.)
- Career changer not wanting a job in your old career (Since you aren’t selling your “old” self, you must tell me what your “new” self is all about so I can find the “new” you nestled in amongst all your “old” work history.)
- Anybody applying for a “specific” job, such as on a government contract (If you want only that job, or one very similar in title, then tell me what it is you want.)
Who “shouldn’t” use it?
- (sounds of crickets in the background)
Hmm. I must be one of those people that think you should always have an Objective statement. Well, let me clarify.
The Objective line is no longer this lame “I’m looking for a satisfying career where I can learn new skills on your dime and work comfortably until I retire” statement, it’s now a strong “These are the skills I can bring to bear on your specific business issues so your firm can excel” statement. For example:
- Old – Objective: Seeking a mid-level Project Manager position in a medium-size firm where I can develop my skills to their fullest. (Wrong! It’s all about you wanting something.)
- New – Objective: Certified Project Manager with 10 years of experience directing IT integration projects looking to lead a small IT project team. (Better! It’s about your talent being specifically applied.)
Consider that the recruiter has carefully reviewed the requirements of his job posting and is now looking for a match…and you just helped make that match in the very first sentence the recruiter read on your resume! It’s a power statement that says “Look no further, I’m exactly what you are looking for!” This is where the right objective line scores big!
But, what you didn’t see before I wrote the new objective is that I went to the specific job posting and figured out that the position required 8+ years of experience, preferred a certified PM, and the candidate would be leading a 2-man project team for a single client that was integrating new software. Then I crafted a 1-line, impactful objective statement connecting my skills with the job needs. Oh, does that mean you must create a new objective line for each job you apply for? Yes…you probably can’t afford not to!
So, does this mean I must abandon the Summary Statement? No, the Objective and the Summary statements can coexist if you desire…and in many cases the Summary Statement is preferred. You should decide if the Objective statement fits your needs and it can strengthen your chances for getting the interview.
Bottom Line: The objective line is your 1-sentence sales pitch for a particular job—make it a strong “can do” statement. No generic statements allowed here! That’s why so many others tell you to get rid of it since it adds no value unless it truly connects your resume to the job that you’re applying for.
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For a full list of my Job Hunter articles, see Index