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What's Your Objective?
While screening candidate resumes at a recent SalesTrax Recruiting Event, I was struck by how many candidates had unknowingly undermined their interviews by what they had written in the opening paragraph, commonly known as the "objective statement" of their resume.
While screening candidate resumes at a recent SalesTrax Recruiting Event, I was struck by how many candidates had unknowingly undermined their interviews by what they had written in the opening paragraph, commonly known as the "objective statement" of their resume. Here are a few of them, and what they mean to a veteran sales recruiter:
"To utilize my professional skills while learning new functions in a corporate setting. Also, to obtain a position which is rewarding and beneficial, with the potential to move into upper management." Translated into recruiterspeak, it reads "I'm new in sales and am looking for handholding and high compensation, and really don't want to sell anyway so will leave if I don't get a comfy middle management job soon."
"To obtain a position that will allow me to utilize my development skills while giving me the opportunity to grow within an organization," which to a recruiter means "this is all about me and I'm not really in this for you."
"My objective is to align myself with a successful and profitable company." Translated, means "I got laid off somewhere before and not being a risk taker, don't want to be with a developing or emerging company, or selling a new product or service."
"To obtain an entry level pharmaceutical sales position and learn the tools necessary to advance in the industry." This means "I haven't taken the time to research the qualifications to get into this industry so this is a shot in the dark and because I specifically named the industry in my resume I've closed off other possibilities at this recruiting event."
As you can see, well intentioned candidates can undermine their attempts by starting their resumes off with statements that instantly tell veteran recruiters whether the candidate may be an "I" player or a "we" player, or, whether the candidate is serious about a sales position with their company or is just passing through.
In their defense, these candidates may not have known enough about individual companies at multiple company recruiting events to write a passionate objective statement, or may have just been trying to be general in their approach. Whatever the reason, the damage has been done in the eyes of the recruiter. Here's my suggestion. With few exceptions, the objective statement in a sales-related resume has outlived its usefulness. Unless you are applying for a specific position in a specific city, (I am applying for the National Sales Manager position for ABC Company in Detroit) I would consider leaving the objective statement off your resume.
Why?? The fact that you applied for or came out to interview with sales recruiters implies that you are looking for a sales position, and the achievements or experience listed on your resume indicate how qualified you are for their position. Therefore, stating the obvious in your objective statement is redundant and in most cases (see examples above) can only hurt you.
Recruiters know that previous experiences and activities tend to predict future experiences and activities and therefore, they look for patterns of success in resumes. Your resume should be a living document espousing your achievements and awards, and sales goals and numbers. Copies of documents supporting those accomplishments should be attached to the resume. That way, a recruiter can visually see what you're capable of and will have to ask questions to determine your underlying motivations. This gives you a little more opportunity to sell yourself, because you didn't ruin your chances in the opening paragraph.
SalesTrax is a national recruiting company uniting sales people and sales opportunities through career fairs and a sales-specific job board. We specialize in pharmaceutical sales positions but represent many other entry and mid-level sales opportunities as well. Visit http://www.salestrax.com for more information.
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