Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Objective Statements - Do You Need One?

   I've been doing a lot of resume screening lately so I thought I'd write up a few of my thoughts.  Ever since my early days as a hiring manager I've told people not to include an objective statement on their resumes.  More often than not, it is worthless.  Usually it equates to "I want a job."  Well, yes.  I could infer that from the fact that you submitted the resume.  Lately I've had some change in my thinking.  I still find most objective statements useless but a well-crafted one can be useful in the right circumstances.

   What are the right circumstances?  The only time I can envision an objective statement being useful is when you are submitting your resume into a large pool.  If you are submitting directly to the hiring manager, it won't tell him/her anything the presence of your resume does not.  Don't waste the space.  If, on the other hand, you are submitting to a large pool such as Dice or Monster or a large company like Microsoft where many hiring managers will be looking at your resume for disparate positions.

   What should be in the objective statement?  Something like, "To obtain a challenging position in the field of software the utilizes my skills" isn't too helpful.  Don't try to sell yourself via your objective statement.  It isn't a mini cover letter.  It should be a clear statement about what sort of job you are looking for.  "A full time position as a senior software developer" is probably all you need.  If there are more specifics--say you are interested in video--make that clear here too.  "To obtain a position as a program manager in the field of digital video." is probably good.  I think there are two main things you are trying to convey here: 

1)  What class of job are you looking for?  Management?  Development?  Testing?  Program Management?  Architect?

2)  Any specific areas you want to focus on.  Know that if you put down specific areas, it will probably cause you to be overlooked for other jobs.  Saying you want to work on telecommunications means you probably won't be tapped for a job working on video editing.  Make sure you are okay with that.  Generally, I would suggest only doing this if you are really passionate or really experienced in a particular area.