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Every time I see an objective statement on a resume, I cringe. It’s a dated and old-school practice that does nothing for you or your job search.

I understand that many job seekers think they need an objective statement. It’s what we were all taught in high school or college, or whenever we might have been searching for our first job.  

But, there are two critical problems with objective statements. First, they’re usually completely unoriginal (does “seeking a challenging position with an industry-leading company” sound familiar?). Second, objective statements display a complete lack of understanding about the purpose of a resume.

You Need to Sell Your Value (Not Your Needs)

Resumes are marketing documents designed to sell you and your skills to an employer. You need to show you’re worth the price of your salary – and you’re a big-ticket item!

When you decide to purchase something, it’s because it provides value to you – not because your purchase delivers value to the seller. Would you buy a $60,000 car because the salesperson needs the commission to pay for her summer vacation? Of course, not. You buy the car because of what it means to you – reliability, style, comfort.

When you apply for a job, think of the hiring manager or recruiter as a customer. You need to convince them that investing in you will pay-off and deliver value to their company. Objective statements naturally work against this goal.

Answer the Hiring Manager’s Questions

Instead of using an objective statement, use a Profile or Executive Summary.

The strongest start to a summary section is an elevator pitch: who you are, who you serve, and what you do. Align this opening statement with the specific position you’re applying to as much as possible (while remaining honest). Not only is this a strong sales statement for your abilities, but it also proactively answers the “who is this person?” question.

For example:

Social Media Marketing Specialist with expertise elevating online visibility and driving customer acquisition for small- to medium-sized businesses. 

Pharmaceutical Account Manager with a history of leading successful product launches for Pfizer and Merck. 

IT Architecture Professional specializing in delivering customized technology solutions to support rapid-growth and start-up enterprises. 

Corporate Branding Consultant who powers customer engagement and loyalty transformations for Fortune 500 companies.

Follow your elevator pitch with relevant facts and details: years’ experience, expertise, specific skills, etc.

Show, Don’t Just Tell

Remember, it’s always better to “show” than to “tell”. Replace generic statements like, “increase sales” with a more specific and descriptive example, such as “generate multimillion-dollar sales and spark 10% YOY growth”.

The more factual support you can give, the more you help hiring managers fully understand how you will impact their business – and this makes their “purchasing decision” easier.

The summary section is also a great place to explain how you deliver impressive results. What’s your secret sauce? How is your approach different than your competitor’s? Are you the queen of following-up and never taking “no” for an answer? Or, do you approach sales as a trusted advisor always excited to champion your customer’s goals?

Explaining your “how” will differentiate you from other candidates and give hiring managers insight into how you will fit with their team and culture.

Lead Your Resume with Your Summary

Profile or summary sections should be positioned at the top of your resume. This section puts the rest of your resume in context and will frame how everything else in your resume is perceived. Don’t limit yourself with too little space – as one of the most important sections of your resume, let the summary take as much room as it needs to be impactful.

Depending on your position level, the summary section could range from 4 sentences (entry-level) to a couple of short paragraphs (senior-manager and above).

Many job seekers misinterpret the popular resume advice “focus on the company needs not your own”; job seekers tend to think this means they shouldn’t talk about themselves at all. It’s quite the opposite. Job seekers should focus on selling the skills and strengths they have that would be of most value to the company.

Have a question about crafting your summary section? Let me know in the comments below!


Written By
Tammy Banfield is a professional resume writer and certified career coach who specializes in helping talented and ambitious women advance their careers and find rewarding, fulfilling jobs. Working from her Canada-based office, Tammy has helped over 600 career seekers from around the world secure coveted positions. Connect with Tammy on Facebook, LinkedIn, or her Website.

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