Resume Objective Statements That Kill Your Hiring Prospects

How to know if your resume has an objective statement that helps or harms.

resume objectives cartoonThis is a guest post by Paula R. Stern. If you’d also like to guest post here on JobMob, follow these guest post guidelines.

Does your resume have an Objective Statement that starts with something like, “A responsible position allowing me to fully utilize my professional skills and which provides me with an opportunity for professional advancement”?

If it does, consider that you’ve just asked a potential employer to read 20+ words that say absolutely nothing and risked having that person close your resume rather than learn what you can really do for them. My personal belief is that the fastest way to lose a job before they even read your resume, is to begin it with something like that.

When going through the job-seeking process, it is very important to understand the stages and the roles of the documents that support each stage.

Cover letters that get your resume read

In today’s job hunting environment, most jobs involve emailing your resume to someone.

Too many job seekers fail to realize that the job of the cover letter is to get the recipient to open the attached resume. That’s all. No one gets a job because of a cover letter, but if the recipient opens the resume, the cover letter worked brilliantly.

I receive dozens of emails from people looking for work, maybe even hundreds over the period of a year. If I receive a blank email, I am as likely to delete the email as I am to open the resume. Perhaps even more so. My feeling is best summed up simply be explaining that if you can’t be bothered to write me a brief note, why should I feel obligated to open the resume?

Resumes that open the door for you

Like the cover letter, the role of the resume is not to get you a job. It’s to get you an interview. If you are called and asked to come to a company, your resume worked.

From there, the process goes on, but what is in the resume is critical – every line, every bullet, every section.

  • Your name and address should be placed at the top of the page or file, not on the sides, not on the bottom.
  • The name of the file should include your name; not “resume2011.doc.” I might like what I see, but if I save a file that uses that type of naming, I’ll probably never find it again, never open it, never call you for that important interview.

Objective Statements that… attract or repulse?

The next big question I have often been asked to discuss, is the Objective Statement many place at the top of the resume.

Understand that a manager will glance quickly at a resume and decide in seconds whether to bother reading further. In a sense, the manager is looking more for reasons not to continue reading, rather than trying to gain a true assessment of how you can fit into their company.

Is an Objective Statement needed?

Does it add or detract from the resume?

The answer, I believe, is “it depends.”

3 rules to decide if you need an Objective Statement in your resume

Here are a few rules for deciding whether to include it or not.

1) Who will see your resume?

  • If you are sending a resume directly to the person who has advertised the job and is responsible for hiring the ideal candidate, the Objective Statement may well be redundant. Even more, it may be distracting.
  • On the other hand, if you are sending your resume to the Human Resources department or to a general email address within a company, the Objective Statement can be helpful in directing your resume to the proper person within the company.

2) What do you want to accomplish?

  • If you are applying for a specific job and your resume clearly reflects that direction, the Objective Statement may not be necessary. After all, it is obvious you are a dentist, a technical writer, a translator, etc. Nothing is gained by stating the obvious and given that you have only seconds to impress the recipient, it is often best that they begin reading your background information, rather than confirming you are looking for the job they are offering. After all, if you weren’t interested in the job, you would not have sent it to them, right?
  • On the other hand, if you are applying for multiple positions within the company because your goal is to get a job and you hope by seeing your abilities, the recipient will decide you match “one of” the jobs that are available, rather than “the” job that was advertised, the Objective Statement may well open additional possibilities.

3) Finally, what should you write in the Objective Statement, if you decide to include it?

  • It is very important to make the Objective Statement as directed as possible. You can damage your positioning or lower their impression of your abilities by making it too broad. If I see an Objective Statement that states the person is seeking a position as a technical writer, editor, or translator, my first impression is that they should make up their minds what they want to do. My second thought is to wonder if I offer them the job, will they leave it as soon as their “true” objective is offered somewhere else.
  • Don’t include a statement of your personal abilities. Though you may be a team player, quick to learn, responsible, etc. these are only words until proven. The proof should be in the sections that follow, in your Experience and Education.

The goal of the resume is to impress the recipient enough to invite you to an interview. If they are so busy reading the Objective Statement, they are delayed in getting to the important sections that follow. Who you are and what you can do, is best represented by the Experience and Education sections.

While there are times that the Objective Statement is important, even critical, there are often times when it can work against the job seeker. If it is too long, if it is too broad, if it is too obvious or redundant, the damage may be enough to create a lost opportunity.

On the other hand, a resume without an Objective Statement may be lost in the vast network of job seekers. It may not open other doors if the particular door of interest isn’t available to you.

So, should you have an Objective Statement in your resume?

While this is a decision you have to make based on many factors, the most important consideration is what you plan to put into it.

A short, direct, proper, Objective Statement may help you land the job of your dreams; a long and winding Objective Statement may well close doors of opportunity as quickly as the manager will close the resume you sent them.

Like all elements of your resume (and your cover letter), if you choose to include an Objective Statement, spend time reviewing it so that it is concise, clear and relevant.

About the Author

paula stern portraitPaula R. Stern is the CEO of Writepoint Ltd., a leading technical writing company in Israel providing comprehensive documentation and training services to Israel’s hi-tech companies. WritePoint was founded in 1995 and has been providing quality documentation at affordable prices ever since. Paula can be reached at [email protected]. Paula is the list owner/moderator of Techshoret and is an Adobe Community Professional.

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