Avoid a Directionless Resume

Why a specific objective is critical to writing an effective resume.

While I have advised in numerous past blogs that an objective statement no longer belongs on a resume, you – as a job seeker – must have a clear objective before you begin writing or rewriting your resume. Think of your resume as an advertisement. Without a specific audience in mind, it’s difficult to decide what to include in such a limited amount of space.

For example, pretend you are creating a newspaper advertisement for a robot with hundreds of functions. You don’t have the ad space to cover the robot’s every tool, so how do you decide what to mention in the ad? If you try to squeeze in all of the robot’s features in order to target all audiences, you will end up appealing to none of them because the reader has too much information to weed through in order to find the features they want. This rationale works the same way regarding your resume – you must determine your objective and target audience before deciding what details to include, in what order to display these details (i.e., weighing information by importance), and the overall strategy. All of this is driven 100% by your objective.

Many job seekers wish to target a variety of positions, and keeping an open mind is a great strategy in a competitive market. This simply means you will need multiple resume versions for each of your objectives. You won’t need to completely rewrite your resume for each goal, however slight adjustments will work in your favor. Let’s say I have held past positions as a Dental Assistant, Retail Sales Associate, and Tutor, and would be happy to fill any of these roles again. The facts of my resume won’t change between these three versions – career dates, past duties and achievements, education, community affiliations, etc. – however, where these items are placed on the resume and how heavily they are emphasized will change.

If I’m applying for a Dental Assistant role, my summary section will contain dental-specific keywords and my “Career Highlights” section will contain achievements from my Dental Assistant career history. I may still mention my retail and tutoring experience, however it will be in the background as an “added bonus” to my dental assisting qualifications. When applying to a retail position, the emphasis would have to shift to retail-specific skills and achievements, with my dental assisting and tutoring experience in the background.

Without a clear objective, you do not have a clear audience. Without a clear audience, your resume will become “general” and be attractive to few in its attempt to be attractive to all. When writing your resume, think of the hiring manager who will be reading it and provide the information that will excite them most.

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