As we approach President's Day and several presidential birthdays coming up in the next week or so, I would like to take a moment to honor the patriots of our past with a quote from another deceased chief executive of the United States of America that speaks to your employment future. The one and only President John F. Kennedy once said, "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country."
Similarly, I challenge you, resume pioneers of the future, to ask not what your employer can do for you, but what you can do for your employer.
Job application documents are ultimately no different than any other form of advertising. Each resume is simply an advertisement for something that the person sending it wants the reader to be interested in. With this in mind, why would you want to pose how those doing the hiring can benefit you personally and professionally as a selling point rather than how you can benefit them? Would you buy a razor if the ad stated that Gillette "looks for customers who will continue to provide funding for the salaries of its upper-level management"?
I submit that you would not, yet that is exactly what a resume objective does.
At this time, I would like to pause for a moment of silence to honor all of the resume objectives of the past that have assisted us along the way and thank them for their years of service before retiring them forever. There is a better option out there, and today, ladies and gentlemen, we are going to discover it together.
Replacing your resume's top heading—the "objective"—requires you to come up with a section that is geared toward your audience's needs and desires rather than your own. Anyone can wax eloquently for days about all of the things he or she is looking for in a position, but it takes skill and determination to write an opening section that makes others want you. That is why it is best to replace objectives with headings entitled "Profile" or "Summary of Qualifications." Before readers even get to the text, they will already know that your resume is about whetting their appetites for employability information.
Once you begin to write the text for this section, it is also extremely important to remember to sound confident. This part of the resume is more like a sales pitch than most would like to admit. Start out with a phrase that describes some of the most obvious qualifications, and branch out from there. For instance, you might describe yourself as a "seasoned sales professional with expertise in X, Y, & Z." This may sound a bit like a classified ad, but a short, bite-sized piece of information can provide spoonfuls of the detailed information that will be found in the rest of the document, including information about responsibilities and vocational achievements.
The other important thing to remember is that the word "seeks"—and anything like it—is completely off-limits. This word automatically sets a tone that focuses on the writer rather than the reader. Even if the phrase using the word "seeks" is meant to compliment the firm receiving the documents ("Seeks sales position in highly respected company," for example), the focus is not unambiguously on the employer.
Instead, try "Cultivated understanding of professional environment with particularly vested interest in individual clientele." This successfully tells the reader not only that you would like to be in that kind of professional environment again but also that you are devoted to upholding clients' individual needs and serving them to the best of your ability without once bringing up your own desire for a position.
When creating a heading for your resume, never forget that you are asking readers to invest in you as an employee first and foremost because of what you can do for them.