On most resumes, between the contact information at the top and the first ‘meat’ section, there’s a space that job seekers generally fill with one of two things: an ‘Objective’, or a ‘Professional Profile’. A profile statement is almost always the better choice. You should almost never* fill that chunk of prime resume real estate with your objective. I realize this is a strong statement. I stand by it, and I’ll tell you why.
Why not an Objective?
An Objective is about what you want. To be blunt, I don’t care. Or, more accurately, as a recruiter I’m not as interested in what you want as what I want. I want to interview candidates that are going to be a good use of my time, and to hire the best person for the job. Your objective at the top of your resume doesn’t usually tell me what I need to know to determine those things. In most cases, I can look at your career history and figure out where you’re going, so telling me that you want ‘positions with increasing levels of responsibility’ isn’t particularly informative. Worst of all, I know you want the job I’m hiring for; if you didn’t, you wouldn’t have applied, so using space on your resume to tell me that is just redundant.
Why is a profile statement statement better?
On the other hand, a Profile tells me what you’re bringing with you to the interview, and possibly the job. It’s an opportunity for me to learn about you; how you see and describe yourself, what you believe is most important for me to know about you. A well-worded Profile helps me paint a more human picture of you in my mind. Here’s the really neat thing for you: it’s also your opportunity to guide me. If I read a well-written profile, it frames how I read the rest of your resume. You can program me to read your experience through the lens that you choose.
How do you write a profile statement?
A profile shouldn’t be long. It should be three lines, four at the very most. Don’t repeat things that I’ll read elsewhere on your resume (or at least use different words). Use full sentences, not bullet points. If you’re pursuing your career in a particular field, tell me why. If you’re passionate about the industry you’re in, tell me about that. If you have a skill or capability that’s a common thread weaving throughout your entire career, show me what it is. Pro tip: if you’re applying in response to a job posting, and if there are words in the posting that accurately describe you or your qualifications, use one or two of those words in your profile. Whether the reader is human or an automated screening system, this can help.
So, if you’ve still got a resume with an Objective at the top, change it up. Fill that valuable headline space with a well-crafted profile that tells me why I should interview and hire you.
*Every good rule has an exception, and there is one here. If you’re in the process of making a full-on career change – moving from one kind of work to an entirely different kind – an Objective that talks about your intention can help a recruiter understand why you’re applying for a job that otherwise might not seem at first glance to be a natural fit.