Studies show that if you’re not able to capture a recruiter’s attention within six seconds of them looking at your resume, then a “thanks, but no thanks” rejection email is in your future.
With hundreds of resumes coming across their desks for any given job, recruiters quickly scan resumes to identify resume objectives, keywords, and phrases that capture their attention and align with the job for which they’re recruiting.
Where do they look first?
A study by TheLadders used a scientific “eye tracking” technique to determine what recruiters focused on when quickly reviewing resumes. The study showed that much of their concentration was focused on the top of the resume. This means that having a powerful objective statement located at the top of your resume could help you move to the “interview” vs. “no thanks” pile.
It’s become standard resume etiquette to include a summary statement at the top of your resume if you’re a professional with relevant work experience that meets the open job criteria. A summary statement should highlight an individual’s accomplishments and strengths in a short paragraph that is tailored to align with the job for which he or she is applying.
An objective statement, on the other hand, is a two- to four-sentence introduction at the top of your resume that states your goal, or objective, for the job to which you’re applying. There are three main types of objective statements:
At one point in time, an objective statement shared what the job seeker was looking for and read more like a wish list. However, companies are not concerned so much about what you want — not initially at least — but instead want to know what you can do for them.
So, in today’s world, a modernized objective statement will blend the 80s version of an objective statement with today’s version of a summary statement. A well-written objective statement will state what the job hunter can do for the company while also stating his or her goals.
Though some recruiters say that an objective statement isn’t necessary and that you can skip it altogether, that’s not the case with all recruiters. Many recruiters refer to the objective statement to decide if they want to go any further with the resume. If the objective statement is poorly written, has grammatical errors, is targeting a different industry, or is vague, a recruiter will move on to another resume in a heartbeat.
When writing an objective statement, you’ve got to make it count. One way to do this is to review the job posting and highlight traits from your experiences that are also requirements of the job. Then, decide which of those traits are best to include in your objective statement. You don’t need to rewrite your entire objective statement every time you submit your resume, but you do want to tweak it to align with each job for which you apply.
Effective objective statements give the recruiter a sense that they already know you before ever speaking to you. They are focused, clear and concise, and they provide some insight into your abilities and personality in a way that makes the recruiter want to know more. If your objective statement is too vague or impersonal, it won’t entice the recruiter to keep reading.
The following objective statements are too vague and impersonal.
“To obtain a position where I can utilize my educational background, leadership skills and ability to communicate well with others.”
“Entry-level employee seeking a sales position where I can apply my education and background. Looking to grow with a stable organization.”
“Seeking a career working within a competitive industry where I can apply my ability to get along well with others.”
“New graduate open to opportunities in the business area. Would love the opportunity for personal development and growth within the company.”
“Entry-level professional with experience in human resources looking to advance my career with a stable organization.”
Your objective statement should be tailored to meet, as the name implies, your objective when you apply for a position. Are you looking to land your first relevant job (entry level), looking to make a career change, or targeting a very specific position? Below are some examples of effective objectives that fall within these three categories.
As an entry level employee, you might have little to no work experience. In lieu of work experience, you’ll want to consider your extracurricular activities and other activities you have been involved in when creating your objective statement. For example, did you hold office for any school-related organizations or play a musical instrument? If yes, you might include “proven leader,” “creative” and “effective communicator” as adjectives to describe you. Below are some examples of effective entry-level objectives.
“Focused human resources graduate with proven leadership ability and effective communication skills. Seeking an entry-level HR position with a company where I can apply my dedication, creativity and positive attitude to help the company achieve its goals. Open to relocation.”
“Recent college graduate with 4+ years of experience in the restaurant service industry. Marketing major seeking to apply my leadership and interpersonal skills acquired through my restaurant experience for your graphic design firm. Adaptable, hard-working, creative, willing to relocate.”
“Student teacher, graduating with a Master’s in English Literature in May 2019 and interested in middle school and high school teaching opportunities in the subjects of Theatre, English or English Literature. Energetic, professional, motivated and articulate.”
“Highly motivated college senior seeking a human resources position utilizing strong problem-solving, communication and leadership skills.”
When you’re switching careers, an objective statement is your tool to help clarify this point. That way, a recruiter won’t be confused as to why you’re a professional pharmaceutical rep looking to land a marketing gig. Below are some examples of career change objectives.
“Executive chef with 10+ years of experience managing a team of artistic and administrative personnel for a catering company. Utilize effective communication and leadership skills to motivate and unite teams while efficiently meeting and exceeding departmental goals. Hold an MFA and look forward to applying my skill set to the faculty teaching position at your school.”
“Former police officer with 4+ years of experience in public service. I am motivated, a fast learner, and quick on my feet. Eager to apply my ability to multitask and work well under pressure to the administrative assistant position at your organization.”
“Human resources professional with 10+ years of experience in oil & gas and not-for-profit organizations. Effective leader and communicator through both written and verbal mediums. Would love the opportunity to apply my skills to your creative writing position.”
Though you could opt for a summary statement if you’re targeting a specific job, an objective statement might work better for you. Below are some examples of effective job-specific objectives.
“Accomplished engineer with a background in water and wastewater treatment and facilities eager to apply my knowledge and experience for your Wastewater Project Engineer position. Hold a Bachelor’s in Civil Engineering and on target to achieve my PE license early next year.”
“Learning and development specialist with 5+ years of experience. Focused, creative, efficient and humorous with ability to support the achievement of team and individual goals. Eager to apply my coaching and training skills to your open Training Manager position.”
A well-written objective can help your resume stand out from the hundreds of other resumes recruiters receive. Take the time to clarify your objective and what you have to offer the company. From there, you can craft a compelling objective statement to avoid receiving the dreaded rejection email!