Sample Resume Objectives – Good, But Summaries Are Smokin’!

Since college I’ve been told that a resume ought to have an “objective statement” at the top. Maybe you’ve been told the same.

I’m here to tell you somebody’s been lying to you!

Well, not necessarily, but maybe. Every resume has an objective, but not every resume has to have an objective statement. So before you get the urge to search online for sample resume objectives, keep reading.

Every resume has an objective. How you TALK about that objective in the resume is a different matter entirely.

An objective statement simply states your objective. I got a four-year degree so I could make brilliant statements like that. But it’s true, and most of the sample resume objectives you’ll find online are statements of what the job seeker wants.

That’s a mistake. A bad mistake.

A good resume objective statement should tell the reader what the candidate will do for him. Specifically, it ought to tell him what profit the candidate will add.

No, I’m not kidding. Here’s an example of what I mean:

“A highly experienced sales and marketing professional with comprehensive strategic planning and implementation skills, and $27 million in total profit improvement added in 8 years, seeking a position as a Sales Manager where these skills will add similar or greater value.”

Wow! That objective statement screams, “Keep reading!” Do YOU know any hiring manager or executive who would turn his nose up at $27 million in 8 years? I don’t. It’s at least worth talking to you about, which means you’ll get an interview. What if it was only $1 million, or $100,000? Whatever the number, it’s money, and that counts.

And that, folks, is the magic. Everything in the job search process should have a focused purpose, and be done on purpose. The purpose of your resume and cover letter is to compel an interview. A strong objective statement like that can help.

Feel free to start with a sample or three. Just be sure to modify any sample you use. Keep the good and scrap the bad.

But is that the best you can do? Hardly.

I have nothing against objective statements, and you can find some solid sample resume objectives online. My only gripe is that using a solid objective statement is settling for good when there’s a (typically) better alternative.

That alternative is the resume summary. Some might call it a “Profile,” or a “Summary of Qualifications,” or even just “Qualifications.” Whatever the name, it’s a grab-’em-by-the-throat killer. Here’s an example of what I’m talking about:

“Savvy, results-oriented leader with proven success in managing multimillion-dollar software product rollouts to disparate sales channels. Background includes launching a high-productivity expert development team, increasing revenue by $2.5 million and achieving unit profitability within nine months (six months ahead of plan), at Widgets, Inc., with leading technology and feature-rich product releases to meet known demand. Critical thinker and adept negotiator who can apply extensive industry knowledge to profitable vendor partnerships and revenue-enhancing co-branding opportunities. Expertly directs development, technology integration, and customer demand discovery. Published author, and frequent keynote speaker at industry conferences.”

Good grief! If the example resume objective a few paragraphs ago was solid, that summary will leave a reader gasping for air.

Put a summary like that in a resume (with your own qualifications in it, of course), and you’ll almost certainly get a phone call for a job interview.

I can hear you saying that whoever has the summary you just read can walk on water. What about lowly old you? Here’s what I used on my last resume, and I wasn’t a high-powered executive either:

“Results-oriented software developer and consulting project manager with six years’ experience at Big 5 firm. Experienced OO developer with particular expertise in Java and Extreme Programming (XP). Over seven years’ experience developing software and managing projects in challenging, fast-paced consulting environments. Demonstrated ability to acquire technical knowledge and skills rapidly. Innovative problem solver, able to see the business and technical sides of a problem. Proven leadership, negotiation and problem resolution abilities. Exceptional communication skills, both oral and written. Published author and conference speaker.”

See? That summary needs some improvement, but it shows mere mortals can do it too. That means you can.

A powerfully stated objective statement makes your resume pop. A powerfully stated summary makes it a thermonuclear explosion. Most others in the resume pile (and there’s always a pile) have objectives that translate into “get a job.” Then you come along with a Sherman tank summary. They’re dead meat.

Make no mistake, job search is war. Powerful summaries give you an advantage.

(c) Copyright 2005 by Roy Miller