You know the quote, “Don’t judge a book by its cover”?
Well, we need to add a second part to the classic expression.
“Don’t judge a book by its cover…but the cover still matters an awful lot.”
When done well, the objective statement (AKA your front cover) can hook even the busiest employer. A poorly written statement, like a blase’ book title, may land your application back on the shelf.
Judge your resume by its cover, and the job could be yours.
How to Write an Impressive Resume Objective Statement
With an objective statement, our instinct is to dazzle employers with adjectives:
“Highly motivated professional with excellent leadership skills. Performance-driven individual who can create immeasurable success on a team and turn complex problems into solutions.”
We think “If I tell the boss I will create ‘immeasurable success,’ THAT’S going to set me apart. Nailed it.”
Here’s the rub: the boss has a stack of 50 resumes from people who ALL claim to create “immeasurable success.”
As I explain with cover letters, don’t tell employers you’re “highly motivated.” Show them with concrete examples. Rely on key details to craft an objective statement — ahem, book title — no one else can match.
Let’s say “Dave” has three years of work experience in medical sales and wants a new job in the same field.
Old objective statement:
“Highly motivated professional with excellent customer service skills and a strong ability to turn complex problems into solutions. Accomplished sales leader with a track record of success.”
Again, the rub: Dave’s objective statement could appear on anyone’s resume for any job. It’s not specific to his career in medical sales and uses empty rhetoric (“accomplished sales leader”). Dave, don’t TELL me you’re “accomplished.” SHOW me.
New objective statement:
“Experienced medical sales professional who provides surgical supplies to hospitals throughout Georgia and South Carolina; manage 18 accounts and in 2014 grew sales totals 22% to $1.3 million.”
How many other people could write an objective statement like Dave? That’s right. Zero. It’s his story and his alone.
Every time Dave could have been bland, he doubles down on the details.
- “Highly motivated professional” becomes “Experienced medical sales professional”
- “Excellent customers service skills” becomes “manage 18 accounts”
- “Complex problems into solutions” (the most cliche’ phrase EVER on a resume) becomes “grew sales totals 22% to $1.3 million”
If Dave’s objective statement were a book title, it would fly off the shelf. His description is impressive from start to finish because it’s 100% substance.
You might think, “OK, great for Dave. But I just graduated and don’t have work experience. What then, Mr. Writer Man?”
Now I’m going to change the tune on you.
If you don’t have work experience, skip the objective statement. That’s right — leave it out.
Until you have concrete results on the job, start the resume with your biggest selling point to date: your skills. List out software, tools, programs, trainings and certifications. Don’t write fluff like “Excellent time management” and “Hard worker.” Anyone can say that.
What are the skills that set you apart?
And right below “Skills,” go into your experience.
Since you’re at square one of your career, you don’t need a passionate and finely-tuned “objective.” You need to apply your skills at a job and start on your journey.
As long as you bust it at every opportunity, the objective will reveal itself in time.
Any other questions on objective statements?
Featured photo: Steve Wilson (Flickr)
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