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Content to be included in a Resume

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For many people, the objective is the hardest part of the resume to write. It may also be the most important. This is your best opportunity to clearly communicate what it is that you are interested in. Written to appeal to the employer, the objective can quickly sum up the answer to the question "What does this person want?"

Some people believe that an objective is unnecessary, because a good cover letter will address this topic, and address it more completely in a few sentences than an objective can in one. I believe that these people are half right. Certainly a cover letter provides an opportunity to elaborate more fully on your career objective. The problem with cover letters is that they are often separated from the resume at some point during the screening process. The other problem is that "elaborate" is a double edged sword. There is definitely a value in being able to sum up what you want in a clear and concise way, like you do in a statement of your career objective.

If you choose to include an objective, it should be written to interest the employer in reading further. It should give a clear indication that you know what you want. As recently as ten years ago, it was more acceptable to have an objective that stated "Seeking an entry level position with opportunities for advancement." The theory behind this type of objective was that you did not want your resume to rule you out of any jobs that you would consider taking. The idea was to boil the objective down to its least common denominator so as to appeal at some level to just about everybody.

That philosophy made at least some sense in an age when the costs of having your resume typeset precluded you from tinkering with it too often. Today, however, in the age of the desktop PC, laser printer, and fancy word processing programs, you can make a resume at home that looks as good as or better than the ones that were produced professionally ten years ago. So, if you can personalize each resume, why not? If you went grocery shopping, how appealing would it be to pick up a can with no picture on the label, with just the word "Vegetables" or "Fruit"? Now, if you hate lima beans, you may definitely pass up a can that says "Lima Beans," but you would probably be more likely to pick up a can that says "Corn," or a can of some other vegetable that appeals to you.

So, while it is important to try not to include information that will turn an employer off to your candidacy, it is even more important that you do everything you can to make them interested in learning more about you. Because the objective is usually found near the top of the resume, it is particularly important that you make sure that it captures the employer's interest.

So, in one or two sentences, you want to state some combination of what it is that you are seeking, and what it is that you can offer.

Self Serving or Uninteresting Objectives
  • Seeking an outside sales opportunity with a progressive thinking company that will provide me with an opportunity for advancement.

  • What company doesn't like to think of itself as "progressive"? Also, why are you worried about advancement already? You haven't even been hired for this job yet.

  • Seeking to advance my career in the exciting world of pharmaceutical sales.

  • Every wasted word that you put on your resume decreases the impact of all the other words. If the employer spends even a half second reading the adjective "exciting," it does two things. It increases the chance that a more important word an action verb or an accomplishment will be missed. Secondly, it gives the reader the impression that you are trying to snow them.

  • Seeking management position.

  • This is a common mistake, particularly among first time job seekers. It does not tell the employer anything, except perhaps that you have not given a great deal of thought to what it is that you want to do.

  • Seeking a challenging position in social services.
Again, this adjective adds very little to the objective.

The Same Objectives, Revisited
  • Seeking outside sales position requiring proven closing skills.
This clearly states what you seek, and emphasizes that you have the requisite skills.
  • Seeking pharmaceutical sales position utilizing my background and experience in organic chemistry as well as my excellent interpersonal communication skills. Willing to travel and/or relocate.
Again, this shows that you are focused, and that you can make a contribution. It also states that you are willing to do what it takes to move up the ladder.
  • Seeking retail management training position, utilizing my six years of experience in retail sales.
Clearly states the goal and summarizes your qualifications.
  • Seeking a position as a crisis counselor.
Short and to the point;


This section will vary depending on your level of education, the time that has elapsed since you completed it, and how vital the education is relative to the position you are seeking. If you have recently graduated from high school or college, you may wish to put the Education section right after the objective. You should list this information in order of importance, which usually means that the most recent information goes first.

In most cases, you should drop your high school diploma from your resume after you have completed a college degree. There are two exceptions to this rule. One exception would be if you know that the person reviewing the resumes or the interviewer is a graduate of the same institution. I would suggest shying away from this unless there is a particularly strong bond among the alumni from that school. The second exception would be if your high school training was technical in nature, and if those skills will be especially relevant to the position for which you are applying.

When listing your education, you may wish to list the date that you received your degree. Do not list the dates that you attended. Listing the date doesn't help you out at all. Even if you are some kind of prodigy and finished a Bachelor's and a law degree in five years, it raises more concern than excitement (how mature will a 22 year old lawyer be?). If it took you longer to finish your education than it took the person reviewing your resume, what will their reaction be? Will that person make assumptions about you? The accomplishment is what counts, not how long it took you to achieve it.

The fact is, for many students with disabilities, the high school or college experience may take a bit longer to complete. Depending on when the disability was acquired or diagnosed, there may have been a period in which the student had to "stop out" for a time to complete rehabilitation. For students with some types of disabilities, one of the most common types of academic accommodations involves a reduction in course load, resulting in a longer period of enrollment and a delayed graduation. By citing the dates of your enrollment, you run the risk of raising questions about your disability before you have a chance to sell your skills and abilities in an interview.

More and more often, it takes students longer than two years to finish an Associate degree, and longer than four years to finish a Bachelor's. In fact, nationally, fewer than 60 percent of those students who begin college as freshmen finish within six years. So, regardless of how long it takes you, completing a degree is what is most significant, and thus it is what is most important to put on the resume.

Not all relevant education comes in the form of a college degree or a high school diploma. It is appropriate to include in the education section any formal training that you have received from professional training organizations. Sometimes this training results in some sort of certificate. In this case, you should list the certificate in much the same way as you would list your other degrees. In other cases the training will result in increased knowledge in a certain area, but will not lead to any particular degree. In those cases, you may choose to include it in the education area, put it in a "Related Course Work" section, or a combination of the two.
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