Objective Statements are Awful!
Writing a personal statement at the top of your CV is probably one of the toughest parts of compiling your job application. If done correctly, recruiters will engage with the content and actually read it!
Stuffing your personal statement full of naff claims, such as team player, reliable, pays attention to detail, and goes above and beyond will have a recruiter rolling their eyes (they've heard all the same blah, blah before.) You'll just come across as unoriginal and won't stand out from the other applicants.
Worse still, is an objective statement.
I HATE THEM!
Most of the recruiters and hiring managers I have ever come into contact with hate them too. Why? Quite simply, an objective statement is telling the employer what you want from them. Until you get to the final interview stages or have an offer on the table, your application should be about what you can contribute to the organisation rather than what you want to get out of them.
Each time you apply for a role, the detail you provide should include:
- Who you are ie. a Sales Manager
- What experience you have ie. 10 years of experience
- Why the reader NEEDS you ie. your skills matched up to the job description to entice them to pick up the phone and call you.
In other words, your personal statement should be specific and add value. The best (and most read) personal statements are a clear summary of related skills and experience required for the job role. Click here for some top tips.
Unless you are applying speculatively to a recruitment agency or job board, your CV should not have on it:
- I want/ I would like to
- I am looking
- I am seeking
- I need
- I feel.
Even though your CV is all about you, it should be all about your career history and not about your needs, wants, likes and dislikes. If you are applying to a recruitment agency and your instruction is for them to find you your next career move, then, by all means, go for an objective so that they are clear about what you want. The recruiter can then alter your CV (with AND ONLY WITH your permission) to make it bespoke to the role or client.
If you are uploading your CV to a job board in the hope you will be found by recruiters, then, again, stating what you are looking for is fine but if you then apply for jobs using the same CV, it is vital that you change your objective statement to one that will add value to the company to which you are applying.
One thing that I see on objective statements regularly and drives me potty is career ambition. Just to be clear, I love ambitious candidates but the general consensus among hiring managers is that detailing how hard and fast you want to climb the career ladder on your CV is a huge turn-off. How do you think the hiring manager will feel if you have applied for his/ her role only to dictate that it's not really what you are looking for – you only see this role as a stepping stone? Not great is it?
Most hiring managers want you to succeed and climb the career ladder…eventually. The last thing they want to do is hire someone new only for them to be eyeing up another role as soon as they start. It's fine to discuss your long-term career goals in an interview but it's just as important to be really clear that you are keen to succeed in the first role, first!
So, for now, keep your long term career goals off your CV and show the value you can add to the role you are applying for.
Avoiding an objective statement
If, however, you are responding to a job advertisement or approaching a company directly, you MUST show them what you can offer them. It should read clearly that you will be an asset to them and not scream out you are applying for the role (or location, company etc) is convenient for you.
Grab the job description and look for the essential skills and experience required. Compile your CV matching up the skills and experience you have with those desired by the company.
Once you have completed your CV, go back and write your personal statement as a summary of what's in your CV. Take out all feelings and opinions and only use quantified facts.
Rule of thumb
Write WHO you are – your job title (should be the same or similar to the role to which you are applying)
WHERE & WHEN you have worked in the role – years of experience and in which sector (should match the experience they require)
WHAT you can do – your skills and experience (no naff words – only real skills and experience that are in the job description)
WHY they need you – the value you will add to the role ie. same as above with skills/ experience and achievements (don't actually write, “You need me because”!!!!)
Graduate or limited experience CVs
If you are a graduate or someone with no or very limited career experience, you should still avoid telling the employer what you want. Instead, write a summary of your educational achievements and link them to the skills required for the role. That way, you can show a clear link between your learning and the work place requirements.
Your CV should not have any emotional statements or how you feel included. These are subjective and are just your opinion. Employers want facts. If you don't have an already established work history, it doesn't matter how passionate you feel about that vocation. It's risky for an employer to hire someone because they think or feel they can do it! Keep it factual.
Instead of writing that you enjoyed a particular aspect of your course or prior work experience, swap the wording to show you researched or had a practical learning experience. Facts.
Swap phrases such as “I want to eventually have a career as an accountant,” with “During my time at college, I gained my AAT Level 2 qualification and have enrolled on a Level 3 evening study course.” This shows the employer you are serious about taking the next step in accountancy without you spelling out that you want to do it.
“I want to eventually have a career as an accountant.” – Wishy, washy objective statement telling the employer what you want, which may come across like you only want to work for them to get the bung up the ladder you need. Some employers may think that you have an expectation they will provide you with (and paying for) the next stages in gaining accountancy qualifications. I know that objective statement doesn't actually say what the candidate expects but it is open to interpretation.
“During my time at college, I gained my AAT Level 2 qualification and have enrolled on a Level 3 evening study course.” – Shows that you completed a qualification and must have enjoyed it because you are continuing your learning in your own time. This adds value to the employer. It shows you are serious about your career development and are determined to take the necessary steps to becoming a fully qualified accountant. This avoids the assumption that you are expecting promotion to land in your lap. Facts.
Never, ever state “Since I was a child, I have always wanted to be a XXXXX” Ugh! Again, this is an objective statement based on your feelings. Objective statements that are not backed up with skills and experience on a CV come across as immature and that the candidate, most likely, has an idealised view of the role.
If you are changing career, you still need to show you have transferable skills which pertain to the new role.
Just because you fancy a change and think you would be great in a different role won't be enough to convince a new employer. Once again, avoid an objective statement telling the employer what you want. Use the job description to determine what the most important factors of the role are and cross check these against transferable skills you have acquired.
You can include in your personal statement or cover letter that you are changing career path and why (providing you avoid personal details or derogatory comments about your previous employer/ sector) but you will also need to include the skills you have gained that match up with the current role, together with conducting adequate research of the company. Again, add value, not opinion or feelings.
Objective statement in the 3rd person
Often, an objective statement is written in the 3rd person. This does not make any sense to me and I have to admit, I switch off. Read here why writing in the 3rd person is naff and old fashioned.
Make a statement with your personal statement
Are you ready to stand out from competing candidates? I hope so!
By making sure your personal statement is clear in showing your skills and experience to the reader, you will stand out. Keep it factual. Remove the fluff and ensure that you show the employer what you can do for them rather than what they can offer you.
Put yourself in the employer's shoes. If you read your personal statement and you aren't sure whether or not it is 100% factual and 0% emotion, the chances are you need to edit it. The job description and company profile are great tools to use so you can demonstrate you are a great organisational fit. Use them! 🙂