The days of writing a career objective are long over. The objective was traditionally reserved for recent graduates or professionals changing fields or industries to indicate to hiring managers the kind of position they wanted, as this might not be immediately apparent from their resume since it would either have little experience or unrelated experience. It soon became fashionable for everyone to write a career objective at the beginning of their resume. However, most recruiters rightly point out that hiring managers don’t want to know what a job seeker wants from an employer but what the job seeker can offer to the employer.
It is now standard procedure to include a brief summary rather than an objective. The summary is designed to provide the employer a quick snapshot of what you have done and for how long, outlining your strengths, skills, and expertise (especially intangibles).
It is important to know what a summary statement should include, as there is no set format and templates should be avoided. Some of the key ingredients are:
- Mention your industry, your work experience in years, and the kinds of companies you have worked for.
e.g., Financial Services, 20 years, private and public sector, Fortune 500, etc.
- Include important functional and vertical skills or expertise you demonstrate.
e.g., back office, service delivery, music composition, lyricist, accounting, software specialist, etc.
It is also important to include keywords from the description of the job that you are applying for. Otherwise, while the human element (HR) might be willing to give you the benefit of the doubt, that you have some possible relevance to the job, the Application Tracking Software surely won’t and you’ll be filtered out before they even see your resume.
- An executive summary should not attempt to confuse or deceive the reader. It must be honest and consistent with the rest of the resume. Be concise and avoid generalizations. Think of it as a quick road map to what the hiring manager will be reading further below.
- The summary should be just that: a summary. It should summarize the details and the breadth of your career and resume. And it should be able to convey your background in less than 20 seconds.
Problems occasionally arise, however, when a professional is attempting to move into an adjacent profession, such as when a musician wants to be a lyricist or a teacher is applying for a role as a personal trainer or tutor. The goal then is to make the employer understand that you have transferable skills that are applicable to the role for which you are applying, even though you don’t have any or much direct experience. The summary can be an excellent place to accomplish this, as it will explain the situation immediately to the hiring manager and provide the lenses through which the hiring manager should read the rest of your resume.