This week a recent college graduate sent me her resume, along with this question: “How can I update my objective statement to fit this specific job?” While I appreciated her recognizing the need to customize her resume for each specific application, the best way to update a resume’s objective statement is to delete it altogether.
Even if you’re looking for entry-level work, the very fact you’re applying for a particular job indicates your objective is to acquire that job. Using your cover letter to explain why you desire this specific job will generally help your case, but adding an objective statement saying you want the job only wastes space on your resume.
Worse still, many hiring managers say one of their pet peeves is receiving resumes with objective statements that have nothing to do with the position for which they’re hiring! For instance, someone submitting a resume for an educational nonprofit that says their objective is to be an optometrist.
If you’ve been in the workforce for a while, your experience will generally make logical sense in connection to the jobs for which you apply. If you’re changing careers or looking for entry-level work, the content of your resume may be less directly relevant. Resist the temptation to tell the employer what you want.
Instead, use that valuable space to summarize what you bring to the table as a candidate. Not only is this a much more effective strategy for getting your resume into the coveted interview stack, but it makes the application process much easier for you as a job seeker.
Objective statements get people into trouble whenever they don’t match a job description exactly—which requires the job seeker to tweak his or her objective each time they submit a resume. On the other hand, a summary statement capturing your essence as a candidate is something you can carry from resume to resume—as well as onto other media such as your LinkedIn profile or professional blog.
As you may have guessed, my response to the recent college grad was to lose her objective statement and simply sell her relevant skills. This strategy is effective no matter how long you’ve been in the workforce!
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