What should your CV objective statement look like?

Paper and a hand holding a pen on a table

Most employers will only spend around 20 seconds on their first look at each CV, which means your statement has to be tightly focused and highly relevant. Time invested in getting your statement right is time well spent.

These three guiding principles will help:

Keep it short

Your statement should be no more than 50 words, and it should sell your skills and strengths in the context of the role you are applying for. Think of this as the headline for the rest of your CV.

Don’t get bogged down in detail. If you can engage and interest whoever is reading your CV, they will keep reading and get the rest of the information on your career and skills in the main body.

Remember this is not a summary of what you have achieved, it is a summary of why you are the right person for the job.

Be specific

Nothing turns off a prospective employer as much as a generic CV. Do your homework to ensure you know as much as possible about the organisation and the role you are applying for. If there are two equally qualified candidates, the one who has clearly done extensive research will appeal most.

Be specific about how your skills and experience are a good match for the role. Find out as much as you can about the values and style of the organisation you are applying to, and make sure that you reflect the fact that you would be a good fit.

Show, don’t tell

CV objective statements are often groaning under the weight of adjectives like motivated, performance-orientated, self-starting and driven. Those kinds of words and phrases don’t make you stand out from the crowd, they make you disappear into it.

As with all marketing the rule is ‘Show, don’t tell’. Don’t tell the employer that you are an accomplished salesperson, show them what you have accomplished. Instead of saying ‘extensive experience in national sales’ say ‘3 years leading national sales team whilst growing turnover by 36% to $14 million.”

Sell your unique experience and skills by showing what you can do with them and always give concrete examples.

A useful exercise is to take a look at your objective statement and ask yourself if you could picture it on anyone else’s CV. If the answer is yes then it is probably too generic and would benefit from more focus on your unique ‘brand’.

Don’t use your objective statement to say that you want the job or are ‘looking for new opportunities’, your application makes that obvious.

Remember: employers aren’t focused on what you’re looking for, they’re focused on what they’re looking for: someone who will do a great job.

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