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The Crucial First Step in Resume Writing - Establishing Your Focus

" OBJECTIVE: A professional position with opportunities for advancement that will allow me to use the full range of my qualifications."

Wow! Could you imagine an objective that could be any less specific? But, as a professional resume writer, I can tell you that such a nebulous, non-specific resume objective is more common than it is not. This is one of the most frequent mistakes that I see people make on their resume.

Let me ask you: If you don't know what you want and where you are going, what makes you think a busy employer will take the time to figure it out for you?

Very frankly, they won't and they shouldn't!

While I hear it every day, I still cringe when I pick up the phone and prospective clients tell me that they "just want to find a job - any job."

Using this hit-or-miss, anything-will-do strategy, even if by some stroke of luck you land a position, the job you land would very likely be one that you would be miserable in! You may have the ability to do the job, but it wouldn't be in line with your interests, your values, and your passions.

When individuals come to me and are not able to express a focus, I tell them very frankly that until they are able to articulate a clear career target, hiring a professional resume writer will be a waste of their time and money.

If I am unable to assist them in narrowing down a focus, I will refer them to a career counselor and suggest that they spend some time defining a focus and setting career goals before we work together on the resume. And yet, so many people TRY to write a resume without a clear focus. Are YOU guilty of this?

Do you have a resume? If so, what I would like to request is that you pull it out and take a look at it with a fresh eye - try to look at it objectively as someone receiving it for the first time might look at it. Is your career focus immediately clear? Within seconds - because that is REALLY all you have - will the recipient come away with an understanding of your job target - of the level and type of position you are seeking - and of exactly where you would fit in their organization and add value?

Be honest with yourself? This is really important! If you have trouble being objective, it may help to ask a friend or acquaintance for their impressions after a ten second scan.

Assuming that you do need to refine the focus of your resume - as most people do - you may be wondering just how to do that.

Is an objective statement the best way to focus your resume? In the past you were probably taught that objective statements were an essential part of the resume. Happily, this is no longer true.

Today, profile or summary sections are used to set the tone and focus for most resumes. Why? Well, think about it: objectives tell the reader what you WANT from them. Profiles or summary sections tell the reader what you OFFER them. This is a subtle but really important difference.

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