Updating your resume is a bit like wandering into an abandoned home – you don’t even know where to begin cleaning, or how to make it presentable and attractive again.
Then it strikes you – did you even build this thing properly? Is the style out of date, or was it never even appealing to begin with? And the innards are so haphazardly strewn about and shoddily constructed – it’s a miracle anyone bought it in the first place!
So you get on the Internet to figure out how to write a resume. Now here you are, and I’m about to throw out a bunch of terms like “career objective” and ask you to write about your professional experience as though the world literally depended on you going to work every day.
And you think to yourself: what a bunch of BS.
(Many people do resort to BS for no good reason. Check out this infographic our team at Resume Companion made showing just how many people outright lie on their resumes.)
The Perfect Resume: A Bit of BS?
Well, yeah, a little bit. The truth is that most of us do jobs to make money, period. An honest career objective written by a teenage kid applying at McDonald’s would go something like this:
“To make as much money as possible before the summer comes, at which point I will quit my job and go surfing.”
Unfortunately, that kind of honesty will not get you the job.
So how can you write a career objective without feeling like you’re BSing too much? (Note: Check out our free job resume builder to get guided seamlessly through the entire process of writing a resume.)
The Best Resume: How to Write a Career Objective without too much BS
(Note: It’s easy to tell when you’re lying.)
Here’s the basic point. All that a company wants to see in your career objective is that you’ve got the skills, experience, or desire to do the job that they are hiring for. That’s it.
So why the anxiety that crops up around writing it?
Most of the anxiety is caused by one major misconception about how to write a career objective. Some people believe that you’re supposed to conform like a drone and swear your undying allegiance to the company you want to work for.
It’s not true. In the 21st century, no one expects you to start a lifelong career the moment you are hired. (This includes the person that is hiring you, who also has a high statistical likelihood of leaving a job every two to three years.)
So, you don’t need to BS about that.
However, your career objective should conform to the company’s needs in some way. You can’t expect an engineering firm to hire you if your stated goal is to become a world famous basketball player. But what if your reason for applying at that engineering firm is only about money? Well, there is a diplomatic way of saying that. Here’s a fantastic example:
“Civil engineer with over 5 years of professional experience working on Houston’s sewerage infrastructure looking to apply considerable skills in bridge engineering. Possess a BS in Engineering and a Professional Engineering License.”
Did you see money mentioned in there at all? No. Does it read like BS? No. The only BS in there is his Bachelor of Science degree.
The Top Resume: How to Write Your Professional Experience Without BS
Do you think you work a meaningless job that can’t possibly look good on a resume? Think again. Every single job that you’ve done can make for an excellent resume entry. You don’t need to be VP or CEO to impress people with your competence, knowledge, and curiosity.
The main issue is that people tend to view their “mundane” jobs two dimensionally. They describe a stick figure drawing of themselves on their resumes, and hope that the hiring manager will somehow hire them. This is not a good strategy.
Watch as I turn a this stick figure of a janitor description into an impressive, three dimensional portrait.
- The Stick Figure: “Clean toilets, scrub floors, and wipe tables.”
- The Portrait: “Manage and maintain facility hygiene at a college institution with more than 15,000 students and faculty.”
Question: Is the second formulation BS? No. Like the first example, everything in it is true. The second one is just far more skillfully written, giving the reader an immediate grasp of the challenge this janitor faces daily, and therefore a respect for his competence. (And actually, janitors have a very difficult, and very rewarding job.)
As you can see with the example above, lying just isn’t necessary. Even the most “mundane” or “easy” job can be described in a way that portrays your skill and competence.
Here’s another example – a waiter works at a mid-range Italian restaurant. He/she writes on the resume.
- Stick Figure: “Take orders and serve customers at an Italian restaurant.”
- The Portrait: “Wait on customers, exceeding the company average of $400 in daily food sales and $200 in daily wine sales. ($550 and $310, respectively.)
You can take a few things away from the second example.
- The employee is good at their job – particularly at sales.
- The employee cares about their job – otherwise how would they know the stats?
- The employee is competent – you can just tell that this person means business.
One Final Note On How To Write An Excellent Resume
Yes, there are people who keep themselves incredibly busy, undertake impressive projects, and have enough experience and achievements to print out entire books. (These are known as biographies, and they are for famous people.)
The good news is this: you are not alone. Most people aren’t workaholic career geeks who make shrines to their career goals in their closets. Most people wake up in the morning, do their job, and go home and engage in their private lives.
For the rest of us Joes, Dicks, and Mary-Sues, we’ve just got to bite down and play the game. Think of writing a resume as an art form. There are probably millions of other people out there with your same job. And every single one of them has to write something interesting about what they did at that job.
Don’t get left behind. Use my tips, and beat out the competition.