Statistics Canada reported an additional 48,300 jobs across the country in January, indicating that the employment market is heating up. If you consider this a siren call to jump into the employment pool, it may be time to review your résumé and make some necessary updates.
The verdict is out on whether an objective is imperative — a concise and targeted statement that conveys your career direction and how you fit into the job you’re applying for — but it could simultaneously save you time and help you jump to the front of the candidate queue.
Experts say that the objective can often replace a cover letter (that’s where you’ll save time), while also providing you with the opportune spot to address any discrepancies in your résumé that aren’t readily explained.
“One place where an objective works well is if you are transitioning to a different role, or out of school,” MaryJo Fitzgerald, a Glassdoor community expert, said to Refinery29. “Or maybe you’ve been out of work for however long — you went travelling, were on parental leave — and you’re switching careers. An objective is a good place to give that hiring manager a signal as to why there is a gap in your résumé.”
This isn’t the time to be long-winded, however. Two to three sentences or a few bullet points should be the extent of it, which means the quality of your phrasing needs to be spot on.
“The key is to communicate concisely what types of roles you are targeting,” says Sara Gregory, a partner with Toronto-based Recruiting in Motion. “If you have two years of work experience in customer service with some sales and some admin, you are going to want to let the hiring manager or human resource manager know what you’re aiming to do — is it to grow your abilities in sales or is it to develop more administrative support skills?”
There’s also room to bring in “soft” skills, such as your ability to work well with others or your friendly and outgoing disposition, if that’s part of the job description.
“A role requiring you to negotiate pricing with buyers would need someone who is able to quickly connect with others and gain their buy in,” Gregory says.
Because an objective can replace a cover letter, it should be tweaked to address the asks of every job you apply for. However, if the posting specifically asks for a cover letter, include one. Not doing so could make you look sloppy or unable to follow direction, and take you out of the running right off the bat.
Counter-intuitive as it sounds, though, don’t make yourself the focus of the statement.
“People used to put objective statements like, ‘I am seeking a reporter position to advance my skills and enhance the world,'” Scott Dobroski, director of corporate communications at Glassdoor said to Refinery29, “[but for] employers in this day and age, the priority is solving their business challenges and needs, and meeting their goals and objectives. They are much more interested in what you can offer them instead of what they can offer you.”
That’s not to say you won’t be considered a valuable addition to the team, rather it’s a soft and subtle message that you’re ready to get to work.