Everyone knows that the amount of time that your resume will be judged is getting shorter and shorter. From the generous 60 seconds 10 years ago to the strict 10-30 seconds of the modern era, the amount of time you have to impact the HR recruiter or hiring manager keeps getting shorter. However, do you know the sure-fire way to get screened out in only 2 seconds?
The Dreaded Objective
The moment that someone adds an Objective statement to the resume it is a kiss of death. It doesn’t matter if the Objective is too specific or too vague; either way, the Objective limits possibilities and makes sure that the reader will only consider your resume from one point of view.
Getting Too Specific
For some job seekers, they list a very specific Objective at the top of their resume. For example:
“Objective: to gain a business-to-business sales position with a dynamic medical device company.”
This may seem like a good idea, but in fact, it is limiting. If the exact job title doesn’t match this Objective, HR will cut the candidate because they are given the impression that the applicant would not be open to other positions.
Worse, many job seekers get lazy and won’t adjust the Objective. For example, I recently posted a job opening for a resume writer at my company. Ironically, I saw a number of really bad resumes. Of these, the very worst were the ones that didn’t bother to change that Objective, especially when they were coming from a different industry. One Objective literally read: “To host my own talk show in radio or television.” Obviously, this has nothing to do with my job posting. In fact, it is insulting that the job seeker couldn’t be bothered to even address my job in any way.
Bottom line: beware of the specific Objective statement. It can box you in more than you realize.
Being Too Vague
A vague job description does nothing but takes up unnecessary space on a resume. These generic statements tend to all sound the same:
“Objective: to gain a challenging and rewarding position with a stable company with plenty of opportunity for growth.”
Well, who doesn’t want that? The same could be said for any job seeker. This does nothing to impress a hiring manager or recruiter.
Another problem with the vague Objective is that there are no active key words in it. Resumes are screened first and foremost by the key words within the job description or job posting. Anything that doesn’t relate to either the requirements or responsibilities is eating up valuable real estate.
The Nature of Sin
Finally, the biggest problem with an Objective is that is completely self-serving. The truth is that companies don’t really care about what you want; they care about their own needs. When you write your resume to match the employer’s needs, you get a better response.
For example, if I am hiring a salesperson, I care about her track record of success. If I am hiring an executive assistant, I care about his proficiency in Microsoft Office. If I am hiring an accountant, I want him to be able to do math.
Always consider the employer’s needs when writing your resume. How can you help this company? Can you make them money, save them money or solve problems? If you prove that you can do one of those three things, the employers will take notice.
Summaries Instead of Objectives
Instead of the hated Objective, try writing a Summary instead. This is 3-4 sentences about your best features – remembering, of course, to relate it back to their needs and use matching key words. At the top of the resume, do include the title of your target job. That lets the company know exactly where your interest lies:
“DRIVEN SALES PROFESSIONAL
“Highly successful sales professional with talents and experience in regulated industries, major account management, enterprise sales and capital expense purchases. A collaborative sales expert, with the ability to help customers determine the best products for their technical, budgetary and company needs. A specialist in building long-term customer relationships based on technical expertise, availability and pro-active customer service.”
Now that is a salesman that I want to call!