Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Objective statements on resumes?

I attended a corporate recruiting event last week, which for the most part was successful (the lunch was even ok, though their description of the sandwich was by far better than the actual food itself; somewhat like a lot of resumes I read?). One intriguing trend I continue to see is the abismal use of "objective" statements on resumes.

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Here's an example of a bad objective statement. The set up is someone looking for an IT job: "I am seeking a position doing IT work."

Yes, I really saw those, a lot. This is not only a horrible use of space on a resume, but an indicator that you were either using it as filler because you lack good experience or you are truly just that bad of a candidate.


Here is an example of a modestly decent objective statement. Same set up, someone looking for an IT job: "To use my IT skills and experience in an environment where performance and productivity are rewarded."

The person at least mentioned their skills and experience, so now I am at least drawn to scan the rest of the resume to see if they are lying to me or not. It was an ok teaser. The second half of the resume is where they lost me. It either indicates that they are a go-getter or are disgruntled (and you can usually figure this out by looking at the rest of the resume and talking to them for 12 seconds).

An example of a good objective statement on a resume? I don't have one. I have never seen one, and I firmly doubt I have ever written one.

The sad reality is most people who spend time looking at resumes think they are really REALLY good at it. I know from a lot of past experience they aren't. I've interviewed, hired and worked with people whose resumes were initially overlooked. I've also not hired people who I have interviewed who had glowing resumes, and worked with abject hiring failures who had amazing resumes.

To me, resumes are like the SATs. They can get you in the door, but unless they are near perfect don't guarantee admittance. Even if you have a bad SAT score (resume) you can still get accepted if you show tenacity, have other great bona fides, write a strong cover letter, interview well, etc.


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