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Objections To Objective Statements

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

By Brad Karsh, President, JobBound

I object to an objective statement.

It’s true. Most of the time you simply don’t need one. If you are applying for a specific job at a specific company, what is your objective? Obviously, it’s to get that job. Yet time and time again, I see long, flowery objective statements like:

Hard working strategic thinker looking to use my exceptional communication, leadership, and creative problem-solving skills in a growing and dynamic organization.

On the surface, that may sound good, but let’s really think about what’s written. That statement is full of what I call “self-ascribed attributes.”

According to you, you are a hard worker, a strategic thinker, and a great communicator. In truth, anyone can write that on a resume. There is no test you take to prove that you are a hard worker.

As a result, these personal manifestos mean absolutely nothing to recruiting directors looking at your resume. They simply don’t believe you.

If you were not a hard worker, would you write:

Lazy worker looking to do the least amount of work for the most amount of money. Prefer boss that stays out of my face and let’s me do what I want.

The only time you need an objective statement is when you are applying to a job and you’re not sure where to send the resume and you’re not sure where they have an opening. In that case, you’d want to write something very simple like:

To obtain a position as a financial analyst at Dick’s Sporting Goods

This way, the recruiting director knows what type of job you’re seeking.

A summary statement (also called “professional profile” or “summary of qualifications”) is another story. Some folks need them, and some do not.

If you’re a student or have been working fewer than four or five years, you don’t need one. At the risk of being obvious, there’s not much to summarize – especially since you have a one page resume.

For those who have been working for a while, a summary statement can work to your benefit, especially if you have great experiences that occurred prior to your last job. In other words, you can highlight the good stuff that is on page two of your resume.

Just like with an objective statement, you must avoid the self-ascribed attributes. Make sure you back every statement up with support for your claim.

Bad
Great communication skills

Good
Great communication skills having delivered more than 50 presentations to audiences as large as 100

Bad
Strong leader

Good
Seasoned manager with experience managing diverse groups of up to 12 associates across two branch locations

I recommend you list four or five summary points. Here’s a little trick when it comes to deciding which ones. Look at the job description for the job you’d like to get. Then do your best to mirror the requirements that they list in that description.

For instance if the job description says:

Must have five-years of financial planning experience

Then your summary point can say:

Five years of financial planning experience handling more than $3 million in annual company revenue

Now, of course, you can’t lie if you don’t have the experience, but if you do, try to make yourself look like the perfect person for the job from the start.

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