by former recruiter David Alan Carter
real-life examples of resume objectives  

Your resume objective is the first thing the hiring official will look at. Is yours up to the task?

The Resume Objective - It's Not About You

Here’s what not to say in your resume objective: "Seeking a challenging position with advancement opportunities."

If this happens to be your current resume objective, save the prospective employer the trouble and circular file that puppy yourself. Why? Because here's what that prospective employer will be reading, instead. "Gimme a fun job where the pay just Resume Objective - Sweating That First Impressionkeeps getting better and better."  

While the above might actually be our goal in life, it's not the kind of goal that is going to motivate a hiring official to give us the time of the day. When your resume hits the desk of a hiring official, you’ve got seven seconds to make a good first impression. And since your resume objective is likely to be the first thing read, your fortunes are riding on a mere handful of words. Here’s how to buy yourself another seven seconds, and another seven beyond that. In other words, here’s what you need to know to write a resume objective that will keep the prospective employer reading.

It’s About The Hiring Official

That’s right, contrary to conventional thinking, the resume objective is not about you. It’s not about your wants or your needs or your corporate lifestyle demands. Believe it or not, it’s about the hiring official. He (or she) is under pressure to fill a job opening not just with a warm body, but with an individual whose hiring won’t come back to haunt him. Ideally, he wants to find a candidate who’ll make him look good to his superiors.

Because your resume objective is the first thing he’ll read, he’ll be using that opportunity to quickly size you up. Are you a professional, or a goof off? Have you done your homework, or did you skip that prep? Do you have a defined and realistic goal, or will any old work for any old paycheck do? Do you give a damn about the company, or have you just got your hand out? You’d be surprised how much one can tell from a resume’s objective.

First Things First - Do Your Homework

The best resume writers start by researching their field. Even if you’re making a lateral move, brush up on the economies that are driving this field, the technologies that are changing it, and the qualifications that are most in demand.

Research your prospective employer. Acme Manufacturing, with it’s generic products and cardboard cutout employees is gone like Mayberry--if it ever existed in the first place. In its stead are highly competitive niche players that have their own peculiar structures and workforce demands. Identify the company (or companies) you want to work for, then research and identify the workplace environment and business philosophies that drive that company. Start your research with the company’s web presence. Glean additional insight from archived news articles, Dun and Bradstreet (check your library) and analysts’ reports (if the company’s stock is publicly traded).

As a former resume writer ... you should know that 99% of the time I was able to improve the resumes that were sent to me. Sometimes dramatically. So, I'm acutely aware of the benefit to having a pro on your side in your job search.

Although I don't write resumes myself anymore, I've taken a hard look at some of the more popular resume writing services on the Web. Like everything else in life, there are some good writers out there, and some you should probably avoid.

If your resume is going to be fighting for attention in a highly competitive field, or it you're finding it difficult to express your job qualifications in an unbiased - yet promotional - manner, a good professional writer might be able to help. In this tough economy, when a job search can run into the months, if not years, it's certainly worth considering.

If you're interested, here's how I rate the Web's most popular Resume Writing Services.

-- David Alan Carter

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Finally, research the position you want. Much of detail of the job will remain elusive until the face-to-face interview, but any nuggets of facts you can uncover ahead of that will help you in targeting your resume. Otherwise, you may never make it to the face-to-face.

Resume Objective - Bringing It All Together

By doing your homework on your prospective field, specific company and target position, you’re ready to begin work on that resume objective. Knowing that it’s not about you-it’s about the hiring official-put your research into words. Instead of "Seeking a position with advancement opportunities to senior management," which is self-serving and all about "me," your resume objective is now going to focus on the needs of that hiring official.

Something like the following: "Entry-level position in Finance which could fully utilize a technical expertise in database design and strong drive to maximize corporate profitability in a competitive global marketplace."

And bingo, in a single sentence you’ve drawn a straight line between a key ingredient of the job position and your skill set, acknowledged the company’s bid to go global, and signaled your understanding that profits are key to everybody keeping their job-including (and most importantly) the person reading your resume.

A Resume Objective That Buys Another 7 SecondsIf resumes were nothing beyond objectives, you’d have won the job right then and there. You’ve shown yourself to be professional, focused, on top of it, and dedicated to what matters. But of course, there’s more to the hiring process than the scan of a single objective. The important thing is that you’ve bought yourself another seven seconds in the screening process. And the hiring official keeps reading.

Where we go from here: See a real-life resume objective written for clients in your profession. Look for your profession or discipline (e.g. Sales Resume Objective) in the table of contents along the right hand margin of this page. 

Wondering which format will put your qualifications in the best light? Chronological or functional? OK - let's get into the nuts and bolts of The Resume Format.

David Alan Carter is a former headhunter and the founder of Resume One of Cincinnati. For more than ten years, he personally crafted thousands of resumes for clients from all occupational walks of life--entry level to executive. 

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