By now, most of us know that it’s a good idea to include a little intro at the top of your resume before diving into your experience. You’ve probably got one on your own resume. But is it the right kind? Or is it the dreaded “objective statement?” If so, your job search might be over before it even starts.
Somehow, people still use these. I read tons of resumes, from the entry level on up to C-level execs, and I’m routinely horrified by the fact that these are still in use. I’m even more horrified by what they usually say. Here are some examples that actual humans have put on their resumes:
- “To find a company that recognizes and rewards my exceptional product vision and gives me the resources and creative freedom to build something amazing.”
- “To use my terrifyingly high IQ to help you build your buisness” (Yep. “Buisness.”)
What — aside from being terrible — do these have in common? Each of them addresses the job seeker’s goals instead of advertising how their skills can benefit a particular company. Even the most well-crafted objective statements are little more than Christmas lists, filled with the shiny things job seekers want.
Unfortunately, hiring managers are not Santa Claus. They have a problem and they need you to be able to solve it. That means they’ll only spend time looking at you if you offer value to their business. Make their first impression of you about how you can help them, not about you.
Plus, they can sound really vague and canned. “To use my skills and experience to obtain a challenging position that offers professional development and room for growth.” You don’t say? No one has ever looked for that before! Instead of falling into this trap and being passed over as another bland candidate with nothing to offer, use that space for a hard-hitting summary of what specific skills and capabilities you offer, and why they would benefit any potential employer. Your resume is a marketing pitch, and you need to make the buyer want you.
A successful summary is a succinct distillation of what you offer: skills, industries, projects you have completed, awards, accolades, and the like. A well-written summary will focus on your value, not your goals. What kind of professional you are, what top skills you offer, and how these skills will help ease the employer’s pain. For more on how to craft a strong summary (the rest of a resume) check out How to Write a Great Resume and 5 Deadly Resume Errors People Still Make.
Remember, every employer has also been a job seeker. They get it. They know you want a more senior role, a bump in salary, to get in on a hot company, or even to land your first real job out of college. There’s no need to make that painfully obvious. Instead, use well-written summary to market your skills and experience. Show them why they should hire you, and save the Christmas list for Santa Claus.