Should You Have An Objective? Yes, But Maybe Not On Your Resume

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Many professional resume writers strongly recommend including an objective statement on your resume. I agree. . . under one condition. It has to be so good that it reaches out and COMPELS the reader to call you for an interview. Most aren't.

If you're interviewing a prospective resume writer (and you should definitely interview them before hiring them), ask him for a respresentative object statement from his porfolio. Is it compelling to you? What's compelling to you might not be compelling to somebody else, but what's NOT compelling to you probably wouldn't excite anybody else.

If you came to me asking for help on your resume (and people have done that frequently), I would counsel you to avoid an objective statement. Instead I'd recommend you use a summary statement instead.

What's that?

It's a compelling marketing tool that outlines your big-ticket, attention-grabbing accomplishments and skills. You might call it the cover letter at the start of your resume.

A summary statement should do what your cover letter is designed to do: compel an interview. Period. If a person reads your laser-focused, compelling cover letter, then moves to your resume to see if this too-good-to-be-true person is real, the first thing he should see is an equally strong opening. If he doesn't, the anticlimax can be extreme.

Here's the summary statement I used to use on my IT Manager resume (a LONG time ago):

"Results-oriented software developer and consulting project manager with six years experience at a Big 5 firm. Experienced OO developer, with particular expertise in Java and Extreme Programming (XP). Over seven years experience developing software and managing projects in challenging, fast-paced consulting environments. Demonstrated ability to acquire technical knowledge and skills rapidly. Innovative problem solver, able to see the business and technical sides of a problem. Proven leadership skills. Highly effective skills in negotiation and problem resolution. Exceptional communication skills, both oral and written. "

I sounded pretty good!

Before you go reusing that, let me tell you a couple things I've learned since then:

  • A summary statement should contain actual, quantified accomplishments, if possible. Mine didn't.
  • The paragraph should be relatively short, followed by a bulleted list of accomplishments in balanced columns. Mine failed that test as well.
  • A summary should highlight your absolutely compelling skills (about three) above the paragraph as sort of a “headline". Nope, didn't have that.

My content was pretty good, but my presentation left a lot to be desired.

If you have a compelling summary statement, presented in a compelling way, and backed up by compelling detail in the rest of your resume, I'd be surprised if you don't get a phone call.

Copyright (c) by Roy Miller

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