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Your Resume: Use a Statement of Qualifications and a Cover Letter Instead of an Objective

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Some experts believe that professionals should have objective statements on their resumes. They see the objective as a nice, friendly opener to let the employer or recruiter know immediately what your focus is. Particularly, they believe that an objective section at the top of your resume right under your name and contact information will clarify things if you have an assortment of different types of experience or general careers or if you are looking to transition into a sector in which you have no experience.

Some experts think that there is no right or wrong answer when it comes to deciding whether to place an objective on your resume — that it is your choice alone and depends upon what your goals and circumstances are.

Those experts are dead wrong.

The most basic answer is that an objective statement says the same thing no matter how you phrase it or where you send it: “I want to work for you.” So why take up valuable space on your resume to make that statement?

There are two mistakes professionals commonly make when writing objectives: “too general” and “too selfish.”

Too General

Many professionals approach the objective statement from a one-size-fits-all angle. But it needs to be specific in order to create the desired effect. Simply writing that you are looking for a brand-new chance to apply your strong skill set in a demanding work environment will not pique the interest of anyone.

Also, note that objectives can be limiting. If you state that you are interested in a very specific type of work, the employer may not even stop to think that you might be qualified for or be interested in another position within the firm or company. For example, if you have had more than 20 years of experience in several finance arenas, if you write in your objective that you want to work in real estate finance, it might get missed that you would or could as expertly work in private equity or bonds.

Too Selfish

The employer doesn’t want to hear one word from you about anything concerning how the company will benefit you (e.g., “A recent graduate from New York Law School looking to gain real-world experience at O’Melveny & Myers”). Never tell the employer on the resume, in the cover letter, or during the interview that your objective is based on something you want. Ask yourself first what you can bring to the proverbial table. Consider the employer’s perspective, not your own.

Instead of an objective, use a cover letter and a summary of qualifications (or profile).

Cover Letters

Some employers mention them in their ads, and some do not. Those who do not suggest cover letters assume that you know you should send one. Employers require that you send a cover letter with your resume because they want some kind of brief establishment as to why you are sending your resume and that you did not do so by accident or for no solid reason. Your cover letter provides an outstanding opportunity to tell the employer what you cannot on your resume. This includes your objective.

The following are some tips on including your objective in your cover letter:

  • Establish what kind of professional you are and what expertise you offer.
  • Inform the potential employer of what your career goal is and/or what specific position you seek.
  • Call the position by its official name and state the firm or company name as well.
  • Demonstrate how your qualifications will meet their needs.
  • Be specific with all information and make sure it’s all relevant.
Summary of Qualifications

A summary of qualifications (or a profile) can be a nice touch and serve the same purpose as an objective statement. A summary at the top of the resume (below the name and contact information) is ideal for experienced professionals because it offers a snapshot of all of the candidate’s skills and expertise and will better entice the employer to read the details throughout the rest of the resume.

The summary states who you are (e.g., “A dynamic, versatile finance professional with expertise in mutual funds, real estate, and private equity”), what your skills and previous experiences are (e.g., “Demonstrated proficiency in SEC regulations and in researching real estate markets and funds. Experienced in evaluating residential and commercial property appraisals”), and any licenses or professional affiliations that may apply. Summaries can be between one and five sentences but should be no more than six lines long.

A cover letter and a statement of qualifications are often the first things that potential employers will see in your application for employment, and they should be designed to get straight to the point about your purpose, which is that you have the skills and the experience they are looking for to build their business.
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 statements  careers  objectives  methods  employers  experts

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