What’s In It for Me? Not a Job, That’s For Sure!

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I spend a great deal of time helping students write resumes designed to help them get entry-level jobs related to the career training program that they are enrolled in. One of the most challenging parts of resume writing is creating an objective.

People have a tendency to write resume objectives from a “what’s in it for me” perspective, which is quite the opposite of what one should do. I see objectives like these every day:

  • I am seeking a job where I can use my skills that I learned in school to become better skilled.
  • To obtain a job where I can learn more about my chosen field.
  • To get a job where I can move up to a better position after learning everything I can.

Do you see anything wrong with these objectives? They are definitely focused on “what’s in it” for the job applicant. Employers want to hire people who can benefit them and their companies, not the other way around.

Here is the cardinal, unbreakable rule of resume writing: The word “I” does not belong anywhere on your resume. If it is there, take it out. Now. That alone isn’t enough to change the tone of your resume, but it’s a great start.

Now about that objective… try something like this:

  • To obtain an entry-level position in an office environment that requires strong computer, bookkeeping, and organizational skills.
  • Seeking an entry-level position in the computer technical support field with a stable and growing organization.
  • To obtain a management position that requires experience in retail operations, customer service, and strong organizational skills.

Remember, if you want to sell yourself to employers, write about “what’s in it for them!”

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8 thoughts on “What’s In It for Me? Not a Job, That’s For Sure!”

  1. I can’t say I agree with this. As someone who hires people, I recognize that I’m hiring a person, not a list of capabilities. I *do* want to know what they want out of their work life. That’s important. They need to be happy working for me, because a happy employee is a productive one.

  2. Amy, I think the point of the post is how you should structure the resume. Sure one could include personal or professional objectives explictly, but it depends on how you express that.

    If you express them on such a way that the employer “gets” instantly why he should hire you, you are set.

  3. I need to read job applications almost everyday, and I agree that I look for things that a candidate has to offer first. Personal objectives should be written somewhere as expectations. If a CV doesn’t include them, I always follow up with an entry questionnaire. I look at both, but a CV with a more striking, company-oriented objective has better chances to get my attention.

  4. You know what? I see that the ‘after’ statements are saying the same thing as the ‘before WIFM’ statements, but more objectively and with adjectives; it’s still what I need and want, which is to obtain a position.

    What about saying what I can do for the employer? Or that I can bring value by USING these skills or knowledge in a productive way? How will the employer benefit from hiring me? How soon?

    THAT’s how to write a compelling objective…not what’s in it for me, but what’s in it for YOU once you hire me!


  5. Like others, I suppose I agree and disagree with the advice. I’m a hiring manager and have had to review many CVs (or even resumes) over the years. I find a poorly written CV is far more damaging (I hire technical writers!) than a CV that states what the person is looking for. I think a good CV will have a sprinkling of what the person is looking for as well as what they will bring to my project or business.
    I’m fond of reminding people that when I arrange to interview a prospective candidate, the candidate is also interviewing me. I’ve turned down several job offers myself over the years because the interviewing manager left me with a bad impression. For this reason, I don’t mind seeing what the person is looking to get out of my business as I take developing people and providing opportunities very seriously – it’s one of the enablers you need to be able to attract the best people.

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