If you want to ensure your résumé is read through to the end, you need to grab the employer’s interest with the first few lines of your résumé.
And the thing that most employers are looking for in the résumé is your motivation for that specific position. Not your skills, not your work history, not your personal details; they want to first read about your motivation for that one particular job.
Employers and recruiters spend just eight seconds to decide whether your résumé gets further consideration or goes in the reject pile. In eight seconds, the employer can barely read halfway down the first page.
If the first few lines are boring, if you’re not talking about your motivation for that specific position in those first few sentences, then you may have missed the boat.
This is where the Career Summary or Career Objective section can be so effective. Use a Career Summary if your recent employment history demonstrates your skills and motivation relevant to the position you are applying for. If, however, you are changing career direction or applying for your first job, a career objective is more effective.
Please be aware that a Career Objective should not be about what you want to get out of the position; it needs to be about what you want to bring to the position, what you want to do for the employer. An example of an effective Career Objective is shown in an application for a leadership position in an organisation providing youth services:
Chief Executive Officer where my passion for helping young people coupled with my business background and ability to build and lead happy teams will help Star Futures remain financially secure and continue to provide much needed support for Wangaratta’s youth.
The formula for this kind of statement starts with the official title of the position. This is followed by the word ‘where’ and then a brief description of the motivation and skills that the applicant would bring to the position. Note that the statement ends by detailing the benefits that the organisation would get from giving this applicant the job.
A student applying for a part-time job might write a Career Objective like this:
casual waitress where my commitment to both customer service and to the team
effort together with my skills and experience in handling food and beverages
will help bring friendly and efficient service and customer satisfaction.
Notice how the applicant indicates her motivation through mentioning her ‘commitment’ and through stating that she would bring ‘friendly and efficient service and customer satisfaction’.
Here is part of the résumé written by a mother in her 50s who is applying for a position coordinating the administration of an organisation dedicated to reducing childhood accidents. She considers that her current role as a mother and her active voluntary involvement in a children’s soccer club demonstrate that she has the skills and the motivation required for the position and so she has chosen to write a Career Summary.
Thirty years’ experience working with children as a teacher, parent and enthusiastic committee member and coach of a children’s soccer club. Currently Secretary / Treasurer responsible for a turnover of $12,500. Involved in sponsorship and fundraising as well as organising rosters, venues, umpires, coaches etc.
The words ‘enthusiastic committee member’, the fact that it is all voluntary work and that she has been elected Secretary/Treasurer all demonstrate her motivation.
Neither a Career Objective nor a Career Summary is essential; what is essential is to clearly demonstrate your motivation for the specific job you are applying for in the first few lines and the Career Summary or Career Objective section provides a great way to do it.
Rupert French is an Australian job search coach. He is the author of How to Get a Good Job After 50. Rupert French, www.jobwinnersguides.com.