Avoid outdated advice
Samantha Nolan is a Certified Professional Resume Writer with a graduate degree in Marketing and Communication, and owner of Ladybug Design, a full-service resume writing and interview coaching firm. For more information, call 1-888-9-LADYBUG or visit http://www.ladybug-design.com
Dear Sam: I am a college student seeking an internship. You state that when it comes to constructing a resume, the objective statement should be omitted. I was wondering if the same rule applies to resumes for internships. Some professors have shown me sample resumes and they open with objective statements, so I'm confused over what I'm seeing versus what you are saying. Help! – Baron
Dear Baron: Yes, the same rule does apply to any resume, regardless of whether you are submitting it for an internship or a full-time professional engagement. The goal of a resume is to showcase what you can do for the employer based on past experience, successes, or credentials. An objective statement does exactly the opposite in that it focuses on what you want to do. In today's job searches and candidate-saturated market, employers do not have time—at least not in the initial screening process—to be overly concerned with what it is that each candidate is looking for. By virtue of applying for the role, you are communicating your interest, so spend the most important real estate on your resume—the top third of page one—focused on what is unique about your background, experience, skills, and abilities that position you as qualified and right for the role.
Unfortunately there are still outdated techniques and advice being promoted as "today's standard" and, at times, that advice is not on par with 21st century best practices and comes from otherwise respected sources. With the age of technology came widespread changes in how candidates had to position themselves on paper in order to shine in an ever-so-brief screening process. With just a few seconds of a hiring managers time, one must immediately tell the reader what he/she can do, not what he/she wants to do. Doesn't that makes sense? I promise you, opening with a summary of your qualifications is a best practice whereas opening with an objective statement is an antiquated approach.
While we are on the subject of outdated advice, let me clear up a few other misnomers…
Formatting: Engaging your reader through an aesthetically pleasing format is indeed appropriate. If your audience isn't ultra conservative in nature, then adding color, imagery, quotes from performance reviews or letters of recommendations, and other personality-infusing elements is entirely on par with best practices. The resumes that hit the market and perform in the strongest manner are those with personality, flavor, and passion coming through loud and clear.
Length: If I never hear again that a resume "has to be one page" it won't be a day too soon! Unless you are entry-level, right out of college, or perhaps have just held one job for your entire career, it is unlikely you should be able to fit all your content on one page. You must take time—and space—to explore your career fully, not only presenting the main functions of each of your roles, but most importantly, what you did that added value. To do this takes space. A one-page resume is no more effective than a three-page resume when information is prioritized and placed in the highest impact places on the page.
Content: I often hear that candidates are concerned that their resume is too "wordy." There are times when a resume should be succinct, but you should never sacrifice value-added content for brevity. Think about it, as long as you are engaging the reader and presenting value-added and not redundant information, the stronger your chance will be to emerge successful from a computerized screening process. I have seen many resumes that are far too brief and therefore lack the ability to convey the uniqueness of their candidacy. Always take the space to explain the value you have provided to past employers as this predicts future contributions.
Best to you Baron as you navigate your search.
Samantha Nolan is a Certified Professional Resume Writer and owner of Ladybug Design, a full-service resume-writing firm. Do you have a resume or job search question for Dear Sam? Reach Samantha at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more about Sam's resume writing services, visit www.ladybug-design.com or call 614-570-3442 or 1-888-9-LADYBUG (1-888-952-3928).