How A Resume Objective
Can Derail Your Job Search
Leading off your resume with a resume objective seems like a good way to start your document. After all,
conventional wisdom suggests that when you're looking for a new job, you know what type of position you
want to land. In fact, if you've ever hired someone, you've probably seen hundreds of resumes that start off this
way. Is this standard start to a resume the best strategy?
Unfortunately, for the tens of thousands of candidates who build their resume this way, it's not.
Including an objective on your resume can unwittingly exclude you from multiple opportunities. Here's the problem.
Titles can vary widely from company to company. A Vice President in one company might be a Director
level position in another. Maybe even a Manager level. If I have an opening for a Director, but your resume
suggests that you're looking for a VP role, chances are you've just screened yourself out.
Likewise, if I have a role in Customer Service, but your resume objective states that you want a product marketing
role, you won't be considered.
Keep in mind that you've got about 15-20 seconds to make your resume stand out. If the screener can't see a
clear match between your background and the opening at hand, your resume will land in the "no" pile. Your objective
can take you out of the running before anyone even considers your background.
The Generic Resume Objective
Maybe the thing to do is make my objective a little less specific. Like this:
A senior level marketing role in a company offering growth opportunity based on performance.
This reminds me of mom and apple pie! While there's nothing blatantly wrong with this resume objective,
it's going to take up valuable real estate in your resume, while adding virtually nothing to your
presentation. Everyone wants to work for a company that rewards performance. There is no value added
in a generic objective like this one.
The Summary Statement Solution
A better approach is to start your resume with a strong Summary Statement. This short narrative
(3-5 good sentences/phrases) should describe your strengths and provide a snapshot into your background.
You can follow this paragraph with 5-8 summary bullet points, highlighting key skills that you possess.
Here's an example:
Accomplished marketing leader with global brand management responsibility for a leading consumer
package goods company in the U.S. Extensive international marketing focus, with management responsibility
for teams in Europe, Asia and Latin America. P & L responsibility for a $3 billion product division, with an
operating budget in excess of $25 million. Recognized as a visionary leader and top marketing strategist in
- Problem Solver
- Consensus Builder
- Strong Results Orientation
- Team Player
Look at What We've Learned!
In this short summary, there's much to learn about this candidate:
- Functional responsibility -- marketing management, with an emphasis on brand management
- International expertise
- People management responsibility
- Significant financial management responsibility
- Industry reputation
There's no mention of level. My guess might be SVP or even Divisional President. If I'm recruiting for a
senior level marketing spot, I want to learn more about this candidate. He may not ultimately be the right
candidate, but my 15 second review gets him into the "yes" pile for further consideration.
It's actually best to write this section of your resume last. As you build your resume, adding positions you've
held and accomplishments you've achieved, writing your summary should be a little easier.
There's one thing we know for sure. A Summary Statement is
much more likely to screen you in rather than out.