Objective/Summary Statements on a Resume: Yes Or No?

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I recently had a client ask me if he should include an objective or career summary statement at the top of his resume. Personally for me, I say no, because I feel you need every line of space on your resume to show potential employers exactly what you can do and why they should hire you.

I’m blessed to have a lot of friends who are in jobs where they hire people, so I thought I’d crowdsource the question and get their thoughts. Their answers are below.

  • Nope! Maybe makes sense in other fields but definitely not for journalism. Use the space instead to give me more information about your work experience and skills. And use your cover letter to tell me about your objectives–but do so in a way that conveys your storytelling and writing chops. E.G.
  • Mixed feelings here. In the absence of a cover letter, it’s a good thing. But brevity is important, and I have no patience for a cover letter in agate type at the top of a resume. J.M.
  • No to the summaries! Takes up valuable one-page retail space! The objective is simple and universal: we need money, we need jobs. Period. M.E.
  • Objectives are useless and trite. I won’t even look at a resume that has objectives unless they’re fresh out of school, which is the only time I find it acceptable. I appreciate a professional summary up top because it’s a quick snapshot of whether to keep reading. G.S.
  • Interesting to see folks come down so hard on objectives/summaries. I encourage them and look for them in the hiring and intern process. I think how a resume is packed into one page says a lot about the editing (and design) skills of an applicant with experience. Either way, skills and experience matter more than any single format. Z.B.
  • I’ve never seen a summary or objectives statement that didn’t make it look like the candidate was applying for a different job than the one I was hiring for. Show me your experience and skills on your resume, tell me what you’re going to do for me in your cover letter. R.S.
  • It depends. A good summary will draw me in and sets the tone for the rest of the resume. But one that is not specific may cause me to toss it. When I ve got 100 resumes to get through per position, summaries are key. J.D.
  • No summary. I’d rather read the resume and make up my own mind. M.U.
  • Nope. Tell me what you’ve done. And do it on a single page. N.P.
  • I’ve seen people write terrible opening summaries, so unless you know what you’re doing, no. M.M.
  • When I was hiring a digital media team, I wanted to see a skills summary or executive summary (or whatever you want to call it) at the top of the resume. I don’t care what your dreams are I want to know what you’ve done and are capable of on the first day of joining the team. S.F.
  • No summary. That’s what a cover letter is for — and yes, I still very much believe in cover letters! S.W.
  • A resume service once advised me that an objective is ideal for young applicants with little to no practical experience. For those with experience, the resume can speak for itself. K.B.
  • Nope, the summary is outdated. You rarely see them anymore and for good reason. You have a limited amount of real estate on a resume, and you want to fill it with concrete accomplishments and skills. R.F.
  • Not necessary. You box yourself in. I might have a job that doesn’t fit your objectives, and then what? M.M.
  • No. If your resume is on my desk, we both know why it’s there. K.P.

So there you have it. Please contact me if you need help making your resume stand out with potential employers.  My rates are very reasonable — negotiable — so email me today for a free consultation.

The Truth About Your Resumes: An Employer Speaks Out

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I like posting things about resumes, job searches and careers on my personal Facebook account and my Resumes By Benét Facebook Fan Page. I have a friend, known in this post as “Gene McCarthy,” who is a hiring manager in the Washington, D.C., area and regularly posts the crazy things he sees on the resumes he reviews.

McCartney, who works for a government contractor in the science community, says he sees between 20 and 250 resumes a month, “It all depends on the position type and requirements,” he said.

In this day and age, we’re no longer paper-based; we send electronic documents, said McCartney. “Most people now accept the limitations of electronic communications, like texts using bad grammar are accepted. And grammar is not a focus in schools anymore,” he said.

Another problem is that people job hop so much they don’t think resumes are important anymore, said McCarthy. “They just put buzz words on their resumes to catch attention,” he said. “Those submitting resumes between the ages of 18 and 25 have grown up only using instant communications, and it’s hard to reel that back in.

“I don’t know if colleges and universities are really teaching them to write real resumes or just a list of buzz words,” McCarthy continued. “I’m not sure if they’re prepared to show what they bring to the table or are just synthesizing their work experiences in keywords that come up in a search. But words still matter, especially for someone trying to make an impression in a job interview.”

McCarthy has a list of pet peeves that he sees regularly on the resumes submitted for his review. The first is people who don’t pay attention to the job requirements. “You can tell instantly because their qualifications have nothing to do with the actual job they’re applying for,” he said.

Second is the dreaded “detail-oriented phrase,” said McCartney. “It’s inevitable that phrase will show up on a resume. It actually shows that they are not detail-oriented, especially when they misspell detail oriented.”

Speaking of misspellings, these show up regularly in resumes and cover letters, said McCartney. “It’s extremely frustrating, especially for writing positions,” he noted. “I will usually move onto the next one unless it’s a very technical job. Sometimes you have to weigh skills over the errors.”

If you claim to be a writer, then be prepared to back it up, said McCarthey. “I see way too many people who claim they are writers and inevitably, they are not,” he said. “It makes you question what these people are thinking, especially if you’re an English major.”

His final pet peeve is the objective statement at the top of a resume, McCartney. “I’m always confused when I see an objective at the top of a resume because they are archaic and are usually just a generic piece of trivial and silly language,” It’s beyond frustrating because it brings absolutely nothing to a resume.”

McCartney said he can scan a resume in 10 seconds and know if it works for him. His advice for resume writers?

“Treat your resume as a story. Employers want to see a beginning, middle and end. Once you’ve laid out the story, bounce it off of three people: someone at a senior level looking for buzz words, someone that’s your peer and someone outside of your field that is a writer,” said McCartney. “If you cover those bases, then you can build something compelling.”

McCartney noted that many job applicants have a tendency to overshare in their resume, which isn’t the right place or context. “For example, I got a resume from a person applying for an IT support job. The top included his personal mantra and a photo,” he recalled. “The mantra was something about how common sense was no longer common. It was trite, lazy nonsense.”

Another person actually put a quote from the movie “Boiler Room” on his resume: “Either you’re slinging crack rock, or you got a wicked jump shot.’ Nobody wants to work for it anymore.

“I thought ‘my God. You actually put this on a resume.’ I’m sure he thought it was witty and a way to stand out, and he did — but for all the wrong reasons,” said McCartney. “I actually have a Wall of Shame. If your resume is on it, you are banned. If I see your resume again, it automatically goes to the junk pile.

McCartney said that one thing dawned on him as he looks at resumes: There are no participation trophies for simply doing a resume. “This is the first generation of participation trophies for simply showing up, and the majority of their resumes seem to show they’re expecting a trophy for simply having a resume — no content, no quality, no organization, no thought behind it,” he said. “It’s just digital trash that has always been rewarded.”

I hope that these tips have helped. If you need help with your own resume, I hope you’ll consider hiring ResumeQueen.org. I also help with cover letters and job interview preparation. You can see my rates here, all of which are negotiable.

Resumes Get the Royal Treatment Through New Service

17225139376_19b2842b5f_qBALTIMORE, MD — Getting a job in a highly competitive environment starts with a good resume, which is the ticket to an interview and an opportunity. But a single error is all it takes for a resume to be pushed to the side.

Now, there is a new service available called Resumes By Benét for those who want to ensure their resume stands out from ever growing stacks of resumes from hopeful applicants.

“Those reviewing resumes take, on average, only six seconds to find what they’re looking for,” says founder Benét J. Wilson. “If they don’t see it, they move onto the next resume.”

Wilson has been a writer, editor and hiring manager for more than two decades.  Based on her experience, she knows the techniques for highlighting important skills employers are seeking and key words valued by hiring managers.  She specializes in journalism and aviation/aerospace resumes, but can make any resume more effective.

“I know what makes a resume stand out – and also what gets one rejected,” says Wilson.

Her service includes a discussion of the applicant’s work, a marked up or rewritten resume and a review of suggested revisions. She can also help with cover letters and job interview preparation.

“With my experience as a hiring manager, I understand what employers are looking for,” says Wilson.  “With my help, your resume has a better chance of being read. My rates are very reasonable for something that is a huge investment in your career.”

For more information about this service, contact Wilson at benet@aviationqueen.com.