Ditch the run-of-the-mill objective statement for a compelling resume professional summary.
When you first graduated from school or started looking for a job, chances are someone advised you to include a career objective statement at the top of your resume. And chances are, you listened to that person and continued this practice whenever it was time to search for new work.
Unfortunately, the resume objective statement is an outdated custom that's best forgotten. In fact, I'd go out on a limb and say that “objective” has become a dirty word among the resume-writing community.
Let me explain.
We've all seen those generic resume objective statements that talk about a “motivated, hard-working self-starter looking for opportunities in [___] field that will allow me to leverage my [___] skills.” This type of statement makes most resume writers cringe for a few reasons.
Reasons why you need to replace your career objective statement
A sentence like that doesn't tell the reader explicitly what position you're targeting and why you're qualified for such a role.
There's a lot of fluff
Motivated. Hardworking. Self-starter. All of these terms are considered filler words by recruiters and hiring managers. Don't say you're hardworking; instead, use your resume professional summary to explain what you've accomplished because of your hard work. Avoid throwing in a bunch of extraneous marketing fluff wherever possible.
It uses pronouns
While there is some debate within the resume-writing world, most professional writers still believe that pronouns such as “I” or “me" should not be included when writing a resume. Save those for the intro paragraph of your LinkedIn profile summary. Instead, stick to what's known as the absent first person, which is when you remove the pronouns. Here's an example of how a professional summary can begin using the absent first person:
“Strategic business-development professional with more than 10 years' experience leading B2B sales teams to generate revenue, increase market share, and exceed quotas for organizations within the Software as a Service (SaaS) sector. Possess in-depth knowledge of lead generation and qualification techniques ...”
It's all about you
Resume objective statements talk about the type of job you want when it should focus on what you can offer a potential employer. Remember, you're writing this resume for recruiters and hiring managers to read. Instead of listing out your needs and wants, use this space to deliver your elevator pitch.
In approximately three to five sentences, explain what you're great at and most interested in by describing how you can provide value to a prospective employer in this type of role. I call this section the executive summary or resume professional summary. Others refer to it as a career statement or career summary. To figure out what to include in this section, ask yourself the following questions:
Why am I qualified for the position I'm targeting?
What about my experience, education, and skills make me a good candidate for this type of role?
How have I used these qualifications to create results and provide value to my previous employers?
Ideally, your resume professional summary should communicate your record of achievement, experience level, value, industry (assuming this is relevant to your current goals), and your immediate career goals. This section will set the tone and focus for the rest of your resume, so give it some careful thought.
Related: How to Define Your Career Goals
What to add to your professional summary
In addition, take a look at the following additional pieces of information you may want to include at the end of your professional summary to further clarify your intent and value.
If you speak more than one language, make sure this information gets incorporated into the resume professional summary section of your resume snapshot. For instance, you might add “Bilingual: Spanish and English” or “Multilingual: Russian, Arabic, and English,” depending on your language skills. This ensures that the recruiter or hiring manager won't overlook these valuable skills, which are usually mentioned toward the bottom of the resume.
Some jobs require a certain amount of travel on a regular basis. You usually see this with outside sales positions, business-development roles, or consulting jobs. If you relish the idea of jet-setting across the U.S. or around the globe for work and you're targeting jobs that require such travel, include this information as well. Incorporate a short sentence such as “Willing to travel up to 50% of the time” to make your intents known. If the job descriptions you're looking at include specific language around the travel requirements, feel free to use that wording as the basis for your blurb.
If you're interested in relocating for work, don't be afraid to mention this in your professional summary as well. If you want to relocate to a specific location, you can include a blurb like this one: “Interested in relocating to the greater Chicago, IL area.” You can take it a step further and mention that you're “willing to relocate to [location] at own expense” to show employers how dedicated you are to making such a move. If you're still toying with the idea of relocating, your best bet is to leave a line like this out until you've done your research and found a specific location that interests you and is a realistic option, given your career and the location's current job market.
If you have a non-U.S. degree or if much of your experience took place in a different country, recruiters may assume you require sponsorship to work for their organization. As a result, you may be automatically screened out by employers who don't want to take on these additional hiring costs.
If you do not require sponsorship to work in the United States, make this crystal clear. Include a blurb at the end of your professional summary such as “U.S. Citizen: No sponsorship required” or “Green card holder – no sponsorship required,” depending upon your circumstance, to avoid being overlooked for a role.
Yes, it's time to officially ditch the resume objective statement. And even though writing a resume professional summary can be a challenging exercise, it will make your resume all the more competitive.
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