IT Employment

Quick resume tip: Hone your Job Objective statement

Some people don't use an Objective statement in a resume at all. But for those who do, it can be a powerful tool. Here are some tips for doing it correctly.

Previously in this blog, TechRepublic members debated the advantages of even including an Objective statement in their resumes.

Many people swore by their use and many people ridiculed the Objective statement as a quaint, outmoded resume element. The fact is, everyone is correct, because what is included in a resume is entirely dependent on your personal needs and what information you want to convey.

It is unlikely that a hiring manager will stop dead in his tracks if you haven't included an Objective statement. But a poorly worded one can send a message that may not be the best one to put out there. However, Susan Ireland, in her book, The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Perfect Resume, cautions that Objective statements make it easier for a potential employer to understand the message that you're trying to convey in the rest of your resume.

Ireland says, "A resume without an Objective statement effectively says, 'This is what I've done. Could you figure out what I should do next?' A job objective gives your resume focus and strength, and makes a powerful first move toward the title and salary negotiations."

If you're going to use a job objective, take time to make it a good one. Here are some tips:

Don't make it about what you want

It's very tempting to write something like:

A challenging IT position in a company that supports creativity and growth opportunity in the workplace.

Sounds okay, right? Well, not exactly. The parts in bold are all about you and your needs-a sure way to alienate employers who have a stack of more humble candidates to choose from. Here and elsewhere, adopt this mindset: "How can I help you, Mr./Ms. Employer?" (And don't get all puffed up and post angry comments about the job search being a two-way street. I know that, but the resume is not the time and place to make your "demands." You can do that after you've charmed everyone in an interview.)

Tailor your objective to the position you're applying for

If you're applying for a project management position in a hospital, put that as your objective:

A Project Management position within a health-care setting

Just be sure to change it for the next job you are applying for if the job title is different. This will also help an HR person know exactly where to direct your resume.

Resist the trite

Don't use phrases like "opportunity to grow" or "room for advancement." Those are not only a given but by using them you're essentially burying your real objective in a bunch of fluff.

Get the PDF version of this tip here.

About

Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.

45 comments
jagadeeshk
jagadeeshk

True. very valid point. thanks for the insight.

smatteson
smatteson

As an IT pro who has conducted interviews and participated in hiring many individuals, I've read a few resumes in my time. Invariably the ones with an objective statement have been from people with little experience trying to break into the field. They almost always come from help desk technicians with 1-2 years experience. While I read every resume I receive, I must admit if it has an objective statement at the top I start out a bit skeptical the individual in question will have the experience needed for a high level job.

benwal91
benwal91

I have been getting lots of advice on resume writing, and I think I have gotten it right. Now reading about the objective statement, I would like to know how this Objective sounds like: "To obtain an IT position that utilizes my experiences as a Network Administrator having responsibility of maintaining all aspects of computers, and networking systems." Some tell me it has to be specific, such as telling what I want to do. How will I better word this?

rajdaroch
rajdaroch

"Tailor your objective to the position you?re applying for" - in other words, your career objective is a load of crock! If we are changing our career objectives as per job description, then what is ethical about that? Cheers Raj

D. A. Wright
D. A. Wright

Yes, I totally agree you have to customize your objective to each company or industry you are applying in. Generic or vague objectives do not see sell you. Di Wright, Website: www.diwright.com B.A. , Dipl. in Ad. Ed, Certified ESL Business Communication Specialist, Business Teacher, and Career Coach ****Member of Career Professionals of Canada and Society of Internet Professionals*********** ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Toronto Star article: www.thestar.com/Article/616663 Website Assessment Service: www.sipgroup.org/membership/.../websiteassessment.htm LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/diwright Twitter: http://twitter.com/Diwright25 Blog: http://diwrightsig.blogspot.com/ Author: " A Year in Serendipity: A Journalling Workbook"http://tinyurl.com/serendipityjournal

mikifinaz1
mikifinaz1

The company could care less about you in most cases. The loyalty thing is crap these days, so always be on the lookout for a better position and squeeze them for all you can get. You are spending an unreplaceable asset, your time. I don't work anywhere unless I get as good as I give. Yes, I take any job I can get until I can get a better one; but don't surrender your own career goals. I move frequently, even in these times always in pursuit of my ends and means and the company be damned. Are they going to support me in my old age? I think not.

Englebert
Englebert

Let's face it, if the candidates know enough to tailor the Objective to fit the position, then surely the employers and especially HR know about this. In this day and age, the real objective of most candidates are ' to get job ', 'to get foot in door', 'to make money', to 'avoid boredom', to 'stay sane', 'to keep sharp'.... Anyone who tailors the Objective to meet the position is telling a big fat lie.

santeewelding
santeewelding

Flying a remotely piloted vehicle benignly into their building. Charm them right out of, or into, their pants.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

to continue being able to afford my mortgage? Ah so you do want fluff then. Think I'll stick to leaving it out, seeing as the truth isn't welcome, and I really can't be bothered to lie.

jjanossy
jjanossy

Susan Ireland is exactly right when she says ?A resume without an Objective statement effectively says, ?This is what I?ve done. Could you figure out what I should do next??" But Tony your example for an objective statement is a little too weak: "A Project Management position within a health-care setting". See Nicholas Lore's excellent article on creating a "masterpiece resume" at http://www.rockportinstitute.com/resumes.html for Lore's complete article and examples of very powerful, attention-getting objective statements that you then support with experiences and accomplishments relevant to the specific position you are applying for. This goes hand-in-hand with custom-crafting your resume for each position, not running off a hundred copies of the same thing and blasting it out. Keep up the fine work. Got time for lunch when you are in town?

blarman
blarman

Every company wants something a little bit different. The point it to get past the initial screening and into the interview. It has less to do with being humble than addressing the needs of the company you are applying with. My advice: research the company's website and job description. If you can, get a hold of someone knowledgeable about the position and ask them to go over what the position entails and what challenges they face. Address those needs in the objective statement and the body of your resume. Remember that you are trying to demonstrate how YOU are the best candidate. You can't go wrong by demonstrating even before you're hired that you want to solve their issues, not just fill a chair.

xeno6696
xeno6696

Attended a seminar by the "working geek" and he had several points that were good, first and foremost, why waste a reviewer's time when the most relevant criteria is your experience? List your experience in terms of number of years, and make that your top item. Also, since you're most likely going to be doing a cover letter (to test for communications skills) your objective statement if you choose to do one should say something different than the cover letter--or you just wasted that valuable real estate at the top of your resume all over again. Your real objective: To get hired.

kenshields
kenshields

I think that Ms. Bowersn is 'spot-on' with her comments. I include an objective statement with my resume, and I reinforce it with-in the body of an accomanying Cover Letter. To me it gives the prospective employer an opportunity to summarize the potential impact, a potential employee will have, on the company doing the hiring.

vincent.laviole
vincent.laviole

Maybe the "objective" can be a repetition of the Title statement. In your example "A Project Management position within a health-care setting", if the Title of the Resume is "Project Manager" and the application is made towards Health Care society, it is quite obvious that the applicant is looking for "A Project Management position within a health-care setting". My point is that this "objective" should bring new pieces of information that could not be easy understood with the title and the rest of the resume.

highlander718
highlander718

These are really good tips, not necessarily obvious. I do not use an objective anymore, but in the past I used something very similar to the first example. Darn, reading your article seems a really silly thing to do now :-)

raiderh808
raiderh808

I would not consider a job wheree I was applying to an "HR Person" more or less give my resume to one. I am applying for a job, I would give my resume directly to the person who will be making the hiring decision and in a best case scenario, give it to him by hand.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

To get a job as an admin... So being honest To get a job... Waste of space, if you insist on dressing it up for the HR numpties, I'd go with Santee's appraisal, mine would be the delete key, or backspace at a push...

santeewelding
santeewelding

First, "obtain". That's wimpy. Face it: you want to seize, grab, claw your way to, wrest, rip from them, the position. Now, how to say that nicely. "Utilize"? Where the hell did you get that from? It is also passive voice -- do you really wish to be used by the position? Wouldn't you rather [i]exercise[/i] the position? Replace "experiences" with "experience", singular. Is there anything wrong with "responsible for" instead of, "having responsibility of"? Lose, "all aspects of". The way you have put it sounds like you want it all at arm's length, which is not what you want, is it? You asked.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

your side of the table. Mine too, though for different reasons. From my point of view given hiring managers don't like huge resume/cv's I view the space an objective statement takes up as wasted. Any hirer's primary interest in me is tools, skills and experience not some flowery BS only a HR noob would be interested in. If I had the information to target a resume at a job, a circumstance which is irritatingly rare, I'd be pointing out areas where I had applied my skills in similar areas, not fluff.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

Here's mine Thirty continuous years at the sharp end of IT in my discipline, in the real world. I've got that through appealing across a broad range of industries and IT roles. Am I the perfect candidate for a particular role. Given this perfection, am I going to be remunerated accordingly? After all successful employers pay for the best people to produce the best product don't they? Get a grip man! If this was an an attempt to sell your services, I'm not buying. If you really believe what you say, can I interest you in a bridge, one careful owner, going cheap due to financial mismanagement.... If you were even vaguely correct there would be no such thing as a job board and 99% of the recuitment industry would be economically ineffective. Seeing as you aren't even close and that these things function to make money out of employers by satisfyng their requirements for cheap and hopefully suitable labour, it appears to me that at best you are spouting drivel, and at worst you are simply joining in to get your own cut as yet another middleman of dubious value.

Jea123
Jea123

One of my golden rules of job search communication is this: NEVER LET THEM THINK FOR THEMSELVES. Always tell them what to think about your skills and how you'll save/make money. An Objective Statement or Profile accomplishes that neatly.

smithDms2002
smithDms2002

There is a lot of good information there, see page 2 for help on targeting the objective to the position you are looking for. I don't have an Objective on my resume now so I'll give it a try.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

Oh it doesn't does it? Custom craft my resume for each position. Lets see a PhD in CS, MCSE, MCA, MCT, CNNP, with 25 years experience in VMS, windows, unix, linux, Oracle SQL Server, Paradox 2.0, F#, Prolog and Z80 machine code. Familiar with the entire life cycle including SCRUM. Knowledge of the Vienna Development method desirable Salary 10k. I'm struggling here, I bet your mate would as well.

CMB from Omaha
CMB from Omaha

The Rockport Institute article is excellent! Thanks for posting it.

WiseITOne
WiseITOne

Is it worth the time to put in how many years you have been working on a particular software or hardware if you are going for management? I am going more for a PM type job and I have since removed all of my technical lingo at the top of my resume. I used to have it as you mentioned above, the type of work I did and years doing it. Now it is more from a managerial perspective on projects and cost savings. Any thoughts?

glenstorm_98
glenstorm_98

Nearly 20 years ago, I worked with a Tech Comm PhD who had a side business professionally writing resumes. She wrote and had published a book on the subject, in which she advocated for beginning every resume a "Summary" statement. The point is that the hiring process people, whether HR or the manager, know what the job is; what they need to know is who *you* are. The summary statement tells them that, so they can decide whether you are a good fit for the particular opening they need to fill. Therefore, my resume starts with a summary that reads (in part), "IT Systems Engineer/Architect and Technical Writer with 35 years' experience in a broad range of technologies..." The entire summary consists of two, or at the most three, short sentences. Just enough to get past the first 30 seconds, which is when most resumes either end up in the "follow up" pile--or the wastebasket. -David Wandelt

wburr
wburr

I'm unfamiliar with using a Title statement in a resume, but the writer and the respondent are correct that it should point to infrmation not previously stated and offer a business reason to consider you as a candidate. The idea of pushing past HR to deliver directly to the decision maker is not always possible and while exhibiting some kahunas, may label the applicant as someone who cannot work within the designed system. If your credentials are sterling or gold, it may work. For the rest of us, I'm sure there's a better middleground.

WiseITOne
WiseITOne

I used to put in an objective statement. I would put opportunity to grow. Very silly indeed as the employer really wants to know what you can do for the and not the other way around. I am still not sure if I have the "perfect" resume. I tweek it from time to time. Right now I have three sentences describing my key skills. I am not even sure if that is effective. Any thoughts guys/girls? I put in that I am an effective communicator in one sentence, that I am expert in knowledge on indusrty systems/hardware, and that I work well in project teams. Again, that might be a bad way to start a resume so any thoughts would be great.

CMB from Omaha
CMB from Omaha

It's certainly possible to get a job by replying to a posted opening & playing HR's game--I've done it myself. But, by far, my BEST gigs have come from personal contacts/networking with the manager who actually "needed the help". These "Best Gigs" were never even advertised! Also, having been the hiring manager myself on occasion, I can't say enough about "Ask the Headhunter" (book, column, & website). Even if you don't use all of Corcodilos' (sp?) methods, he has a unique perspective and some great advice.

ray
ray

Wedge, The vast majority of opennings will not take a phone call to find out who the hiring manager is. Unless you know someone inside, you may be forced to 'go through the channel'. Managing the interview process will be difficult when the hiring manager has to see you and your resume at the same time. You are forcing them to read it on the spot, comprehend it, and then listen and respond to you. All of those components are needed, but not necessarially on your time schedule.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

To make it specific enough to leave no room for interpretation and be on target you need a great deal of information. Otherwise you are more likely to cut yourelf out of the picture. I make my skills and experience clear and leave the fluffy stuff to their imagination. They are far more lilely to come up with me as the right answer based on what they know of what they ant, than I am seeing as they haven't given me a useful clue.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

the more you should emphasise them, including pandering to HR types preconceptions. That's the real split on incluing objective statments, technical vs management.

WiseITOne
WiseITOne

I have a summary but it is three sentences spaced. I was told it is easier on the eyes rather than a paragraph. And these three sentences are the key to whether or not the resume is looked at again. They should be your elevator speech or quick 30 minute sell on yourself. I agree with you that this is better than an objective statement. I have been told that an objective statement is for entry level postions...

gechurch
gechurch

I just realised I didn't actually answer your questions. Three sentences on skills seems about right to me for a knowledge worker. I think I have three dot points, with comma separated items for each. One dot point lists programming languages I know well, one covers software I know well, and one covers hardware, networking and OS'. To my way of thinking, the communication and team aspects of any job are the things that will set you apart. They will likely get lots of resumes that list skills, and the employer is unlikely to know how good a persons skills are until they can test them in an interview. They need other ways of judging candidates. If you focus on how much of an importance you place on communication, high standards and documentation you will likely stand above the crowd. Regarding statements about working in teams - I consider one sentence saying "I work well in team environments" to be totally useless. That won't make you stand out. Most people say it, and if you don't say it I wouldn't assume it's because you work poorly in teams. Instead, my take is to focus on communication skills in the cover letter. I state how important I consider communication and documentation to be. I will have at least one paragraph (~ 1/4 of a page) on these two items. I typically discuss them first in the cover letter. I also normally make a statement along the lines of "I see this role as being a customer service one". That statement isn't just saying "I provide great service. Go me!!". It's giving an insight into how you think about the job. I believe if I can show what my approach to the job will be, that is far more important than just saying how awesome my skillset is or how many certificates I've got.

gechurch
gechurch

I am far from an expert in resume's and have never hired anyone, so I don't put this out there as being awesome advice - it's just what makes sense to me. If I was looking to hire, I'd want to be able to skim through a resume and quickly make an interview/no interview decision. So my resume is simple. I only put in stuff that really matters (I don't include that math award I won in grade 10, or every subject I did at uni, or even that I have a current drivers license - if the interviewer wants to know they can ask. I highly doubt an employer has not interviewed an otherwise good candidate because they might not have their licence). It's in dot point, and for each area (schooling, skills, job history) I put one or two key points. For example I had average results at uni but when I buckled down in the final year my results were great. So for uni I put my averge final-year score. If I read that it looks impressive, and I would assume similar results for previous years. Personally, I try to avoid all the cliche's like 'Work well individually or in teams'. I hate them, and they are so overused as to be meaningless. The look of my resume is clean/modern. I have my name in big writing at the top so they can remember who I am, I have the most relevant stuff at top and I use dot points wherever possible. I also don't oversell myself, but that's a personal decision. I believe the resume is far, far less important than a cover letter. To me, the cover letter is where I really get to sell myself in the role. The resume is just there to tick a few boxes. I custom write the cover letter for each job, and it is usually a page long. I address every item in the job description, but try to do it by either providing examples or by making observations about myself ("I have found in the past that I tend to become the unofficial project leader..."). I think it sounds less arrogant than statements like "I am a great communicator". I always try to look at things from the employers point of view. I don't think I've ever written stuff about wanting to be challenged. Instead, in most cover letters I tend to write statements about how important I consider communication and documentation to be, and how much I pride myself on my work. I am for my cover letter to come across as "I'm eager, I work hard, I take ownership of the work I do and I've proven that, and I'm a safe choice". I usually finish with a sentence like "If you think I moght be a good fit in your company I am available for an interview...". I don't think that comes across as desperate - it's my way of saying "I've laid out on the line who I am. I am keen to interview, but am only interested if this is going to suit me too". I've got no idea if that's how it comes across to employers, but anecdotally it seems to. I've only applied for a handful of jobs, and have mainly worked at companies with 6 or less employees. I'm sure some of the above wouldn't work well in medium or large companies. I'm glad I've never had to deal with HE people.

rictou50
rictou50

Does spelling not count anymore? Do people still proofread? I hope the spelling errors in the comments are not indicative of how the resumes look. No offense, as a former clerical person, I tend to notice.

WiseITOne
WiseITOne

It sounds great but I am not sure if you have looked for a job recently. Actually geting past the HR and to a hiring manager is next to impossible in larger companies. It is now ALL online. If you call they ask if you have filled out an online application and that they will contact you. If it is a smaller company you might have a better chance of handing in your resume, or if you really have a lot of time you might be walking in and requesting the hiring manager. I really don't think this idea is useful since HR does pre-screening. The hiring manager doesn't want 500 resumes to sift through - that is HRs job. Good in theory but I really don't think it is effective or necessary. If I am wrong I would like to hear why you think this is effective or any positive results you have had using this technique in the past few years.

gechurch
gechurch

I've never thought of doing it that way. When I first read it I didn't like the idea (I'm not sure why!). The more I think about it though, the more I like it. It's good from the point of view of writing the cover letter because it will keep you on focus and will make it hard to forget to addres a criteria. It's good from the employers point of view because what they've asked to be addressed is all laid out in front of them. One potential problem with it is being limited in your response. I believe employers are looking for not only how well you directly address the criteria, but also are looking for the other things I mentioned - approach, documentation, communication. If I went this method I would be including additional paragraphs to address these. I don't think there is a 'best' way to do anything on a job application. That's why you get such different advice from everyone you ask. Anything that makes you stand out from the crowd must be good though.

WiseITOne
WiseITOne

In my cover letter I put it in table format. I just copy what they are looking for on the left and then put on the right how I have done something similar or how I know I can do the task required. Not sure if that is the best way.

jagadeeshk
jagadeeshk

I was about to about to my resume to few companies, thanks for the valid points

santeewelding
santeewelding

You slam everyone here in the name of your own ineptitude.

santeewelding
santeewelding

Which I didn't, back on the date of your post, the 26th, would you like to undergo a word-by-word analysis of your drivel? Including your fatuous, [b]WiseITOne[/b]?

boxfiddler
boxfiddler

[i]I hope the spelling errors in the comments are not indicative of how the resumes look.[/i] got past you?

WiseITOne
WiseITOne

If you are looking for good spelling and grammar in an online tech post you are in the wrong place. For one, a forum and two, a tech forum? Are you serious? Please don't make such obsurd comments. That is like expecting to find fine art work from an accountant. I feel your snobery oozing out, go eat some humble pie. 1. If you don't have anything good to say, keep it to yourself. 2. Never criticize, condem, or correct - trust me, it will help you out in your life. Good luck. P.S. If I am writing a term paper in Word I will spell check it and make sure it is grammatically correct. Same goes for an e-mail to the boss or a proposal. If I am enjoying a discussion in an on-line forum I am NOT going to care.