Writing an objective or career summary can be one of the hardest sections to write in a resume. Why? It is often the shortest part of your resume, so it shouldn’t be hard, right? Unfortunately, it can be very difficult for people because you have to briefly summarize why an employer should hire you. When it gets to the point that it is too difficult to write a tailored, specific summary, some people will give up and just write a vague or generalized one. While this is certainly an option for people, there are problems with it. Some of these include:
Confusing or Unclear: If your career summary is vague or generalized, it can become unclear to your potential employers what your focus actually is. You don’t want to make it harder for your potential employers to see what your goal is. They are looking through dozens (or hundreds!) of resumes, and if it is too hard for them to understand what you are saying, they probably won’t take the time to go through the rest of your resume.
Looks Lazy: Besides being unclear, a vague summary can look just plain lazy. It can look like you didn’t take time to research the position, and that can cause employers to feel like you don’t care about the role, or their time.
Now that you know some of the problems with having a vague objective, here are some ways that you can fix it so you have a specific, tailored objective that will impress employers.
Maintain a clear focus: Be very clear about what it is you want to do. Briefly add some tangible experiences that pertain to this role. Show your expertise and brand!
Research: Do some research on the position so you know what you are talking about. Add similar qualities that you possess to the summary as it will help you stand out more.
That is it. You just need to be willing to take the time and do the work and you will end up with an impressive focus and summary that will help keep potential employers reading and interested in your resume, and you.
Very few people stay in one career or even one job for decades anymore. Moving from one job to the next is one way to acquire skill sets relatively quickly. Once you acquire those skill sets, you may feel as if it is time for a career change. Your resume can help you reach that next career target in a couple of ways.
The career objective on a resume is sometimes a long, run-on sentence that doesn’t really say a lot about who you are or what you are looking for in a career. However, using a career objective effectively can help you when you are looking to change careers, but do not have experience in the career you are targeting. Succinctly state which skills you do have and how you want to use them. For example: I want to use my design skills to present museum exhibits. Look carefully at job descriptions for your next targeted career and pick out the skills you have now that will transfer to this career. For example, while you may never have designed a museum exhibit, your art gallery event planning and exhibit design are both assets in your targeted career because they are also skills used in planning and designing museum exhibits. Environmental design skills are also a plus in staging a 3D exhibit where foot traffic patterns and how people interact with the exhibits are important. Highlight your transferable skills in a skills summary and show how you used these skills in an Accomplishments and Experience summary on your resume.
When you have a strong resume that clearly states the position you want, you have a greater chance of capturing the attention of the reader and moving on to your next big adventure.
If you were to ask career counselors if a career objective is worth merit, half of them would say yes. Those arguing against objectives will say they are too limiting and usually poorly constructed. Those in favor will say that employers want to be able to determine quickly what you can do for the company and what you’re good at. An objective can help meet that need. To some employers, the lack of an objective translates into a job seeker who doesn’t know what he or she wants. On the other hand, numerous employers say they rarely see a well-written objective.
There’s no doubt that many resume career objectives are poorly put together as they are usually vague and not job specific. This defeats the whole purpose of the objective in the first place.
Job seekers also tend to ignore the employer’s need to know what a potential employee can contribute and list everything that the job seeker wants. For example, a typical self-serving objective will say “To obtain a meaningful and challenging position which enables me to learn the accounting field and which allows for advancement.” If your career objective doesn’t match what the hiring manager has to offer, he or she is not likely to give serious consideration to other positions within the company that you might fit into.
In other words, don’t leave the career objective off of your resume. You can have several versions of your resume saved on your computer that each have a different objective. You could even come up with a specific, tailor-made objective on your resume for each job you apply for. With technology, resumes and objectives need not be “one size fits all.” However, if you go to a job fair where it’s impossible to tailor your objective as you move from booth to booth, or if you’re handing out resumes in a networking situation, it may make more sense to leave your objective off.
If you are still uncomfortable with committing yourself to an objective on your resume, you can use a cover letter to tailor a resume to specific jobs. The cover letter can help bring the resume into sharper focus by elaborating on what the job seeker wants to do and what he or she can specifically contribute to a particular job.
Employers are seeing more objectives being replaced with wording such as summary, skills summary, qualifications or profile. Keywords in these sections are very important if they are tailored to specific job skills.
Objectives should reflect the employer’s perspective, not the job seeker’s, and should tell what the job seeker can contribute. An objective should demonstrate the value the candidate will add to the organization. Objectives should be as concise as possible. Whether or not you choose to include an objective, you may wish to present a skills or qualifications section on your resume