Resume 101: Ditch the objective and write a summary

Resume 101: Ditch the objective and write a summary

If you're navigating the job hunt, surely you're taking some time to revamp your resume.  If that's the case, one of the questions that you might have is whether or not you need an objective statement on your resume.  The objective statement is basically a few bullet points saying what you're looking for -- a short, targeted statement regarding your ideal job. 

The long and the short of it is that no, you don't need an objective statement for your resume.  Most hiring managers find them too generic to add value.  Your resume should be limited to one page for most people with less than 10-12 years of experience, and two pages for those with more. That means that means that every centimeter of that page is valuable real estate that you don't want to waste with information that is not going to make you more valuable to a potential employer. Skip the objective statement!

What you may consider instead would be an resume summary.

A resume summary is a good idea if you (a) have an extensive work history and want to put highlights front and center, or (b) you're making a big career transition and need to create a clear narrative for the potential employer that they may not be able to discern as readily on their own. A summary allows you to present your personal brand in a clear way to potential employers. If you think that a summary may be a good fit for your resume, you're going to have to do some introspection to make sure that you create a summary that is meaningful. 

Here are a few steps to help you do that.

Step 1: Have a Clear Direction

You want your summary to be clearly directed towards the type of role that you want -- you need to emphasize the skills and experience the most directly relevant for your ideal job. Ask yourself: 

  • Which skills do you most enjoy using?
  • What results and/or accomplishments best highlight your strengths?
  • What do you want to be known for? 

Step 2: Research your target industry

You want to have a strong understanding of the industry that you want to be in so that you can better anticipate the top needs.

Ask yourself:

  • What are the top trends in your industry?
  • What problems are you best able to resolve?
  • What would make you a unique asset?

Step 3: Paint the picture

Now that you know what your skills are and what is most vlued in your industry, connect the dots for the potential employer.  Write 4-6 bullets with clear, specific, pithy statements with a focus on how you could add value based on results and accomplishments.

Ask yourself:

  • What are your biggest selling points?
  • What is needed in your target industry that you have?

Here's an example:

Retail sales manager with 5+ years experience with strengths including customer services, sales, and negotiation. Successful in developing strategies resulting in over 30% increase in new customers over 12 month period. 

The example above is great because its both clear and concise. As soon as the hiring manager picks up the resume with this at the top, they know the type of person they're looking at. This can be persuasive and provide just the punch needed to put you at the top of the list of potential candidates.