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Personal statements in CV?

Scott Bown
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Joined: Sep 06, 2007
Posts: 32
Hi Andy and fellow ranchers,

What's your take on personal statements? what should it contain for a software developer? should the be in the CV? positioned at start or end?

At college/uni we always had personal statement with a hint of career aspirations as the first thing on CV. After reviewing several Java contractors CV's recently some are pretty much just their employment experience with no statements.

I'm Java developer with about 5 years experience, looking to revamp and update CV.

Cheers,

Scott


Android + J2EE Developer
SCJP 5.0, SCWCD 1.4, SCDJWS 5
Vyas Sanzgiri
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Joined: Jun 16, 2007
Posts: 686

Does it even make a difference? I see companies hire if they "want" to hire. However good your resume is or well-formatted - I have seen no difference


===Vyas Sanzgiri===
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Henry Wong
author
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Joined: Sep 28, 2004
Posts: 18847
    
  40

At college/uni we always had personal statement with a hint of career aspirations as the first thing on CV. After reviewing several Java contractors CV's recently some are pretty much just their employment experience with no statements.


Generally, the first item on a resume is the objective... stating aspirations in this section should work. Besides, a resume is generally bland, so having an introduction that talks about aspirations or other "personal" details adds color to a resume, and IMHO, is a good idea.

Henry


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César Guzmán
Greenhorn

Joined: Mar 08, 2009
Posts: 29
Vyas Sanzgiri wrote:Does it even make a difference? I see companies hire if they "want" to hire. However good your resume is or well-formatted - I have seen no difference


I think a CV is not only to show your experience/habilities, it's a manner to catch the companies attention. A good resume and well formatted has more chances to get an interview, and more interviews are more chances to get and maybe to select the job you want.


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Vyas Sanzgiri
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Joined: Jun 16, 2007
Posts: 686

Yes you are right :-)
Mark Herschberg
Sheriff

Joined: Dec 04, 2000
Posts: 6037
Henry Wong wrote:
At college/uni we always had personal statement with a hint of career aspirations as the first thing on CV. After reviewing several Java contractors CV's recently some are pretty much just their employment experience with no statements.


Generally, the first item on a resume is the objective... stating aspirations in this section should work. Besides, a resume is generally bland, so having an introduction that talks about aspirations or other "personal" details adds color to a resume, and IMHO, is a good idea.


I've got to disagree.

It makes sense when you come out of school because you and the 200 other people in your major tend to all look alike--mostly the same classes, slightly different 8 week summer jobs. The objective is one more thing to help try and differentiate you from everyone else.

All good recruiters I know say to take it off after 3-5 years. You objective: get the job to which you're applying. Unless your shifting to new field where you have to explain why your background leads you to this new job, they see your background and see their job and put two and two together.

One of the first questions I ask candidates is "what do you want to do with your life?" It's an important piece of information, but a resume is a summary and it doesn't fit into that.

If your resume is bland, you've got a problem. Spice it up with your work history, not filler. "I built a cool facebook app" is much better than "I want to build a facebook app."

--Mark
Andy Lester
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Joined: Jun 03, 2009
Posts: 61
Objectives are terrible, and should never be on a resume you're submitting in response to a job.

First, most objectives are meaningless fluff. They typically say things like "OBJECTIVE: To acquire a challenging position in the field of information technology and to contribute my skills to business development." What does that mean? Nothing! Everyone wants a "challenging position"! Every job requires you to contribute your skills to business development! You might as well say "OBJECTIVE: To do computer work that isn't boring and not get fired."

Second, an objective is focused on what you want, not what the company wants, yet it's the first thing you're presenting to the company. It's as if I met the hiring manager and said "Hi, my name is Andy Lester, and here's what I want from you," instead of "Hi, here's how I can help you and your company."

Third, an objective is stuck at the top of the resume, using up the most valuable visual real estate on the page. Instead of a few lines of fluff that focuses on what you want, the first thing a resume reader should see is a summary of you and your skills, such as:

  • Seven years’ experience in all facets of large website production.
  • Led team of five designers creating Flash content for automotive websites.
  • Installed and maintained content management systems such as Vignette and Bricolage for production staff of 20.
  • Accomplished author of technical documentation in French. Also fluent in Japanese.


  • That's a far more powerful way to open a resume, and lets the reader know what's down below. Remember that nobody is going to read your entire resume unless you give them a reason to. Saying what you're looking for in a job is no way to convince them that there's goodness down below.

    Section 3.7 "What to Leave Out of Your Résumé" in my book discusses the evils of the objective in more detail, along with other résumé space fillers.

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    Deepak Bala
    Bartender

    Joined: Feb 24, 2006
    Posts: 6661
        
        5

    Henry Wong wrote:
    At college/uni we always had personal statement with a hint of career aspirations as the first thing on CV. After reviewing several Java contractors CV's recently some are pretty much just their employment experience with no statements.


    Generally, the first item on a resume is the objective... stating aspirations in this section should work. Besides, a resume is generally bland, so having an introduction that talks about aspirations or other "personal" details adds color to a resume, and IMHO, is a good idea.

    Henry


    I find that it usually adds clutter. Most objectives are copied anyway. It usually goes something like 'To carve a niche in blah | To be the best in... | Highly productive in X and career aspirations towards... '.

    I usually replace this section with a short introduction instead, that gives a high level view of what my profile is instead of telling the employer that I am highly motivated / very productive etc. The intro says 'I am X, working for Y years and specialized in Z with experience in verticals A,B,C.'

    I try to cram a resume within 3 pages max. The objective, in my opinion, wastes a lot of space that I could have used to highlight something else.

    Of course I am saying this from the perspective of some one with experience. I agree that for a fresh graduate, the objective section makes sense


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    arulk pillai
    Author
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    Joined: May 31, 2007
    Posts: 3220
    Objectives are terrible, and should never be on a resume you're submitting in response to a job.


    I partially agree. I don't think objectives are as bad as you are describing.

    Avoid bland objective reflecting a vague career disposition. For example:

    “A position where I can exploit my talents………..”

    This may leave an impression that you do not really know what you are applying for or you are just trying to land in any job. Consequently, your bargaining power is likely to decline.


    Tailor your objective to the job and position, you are applying for. Even if you are a multi-talented personality, avoid addressing multiple titles in your objective. For example


    “Looking for a challenging position as a Java developer or an Oracle administrator…..”

    The above sentence is not only bland, but also confuses the hiring manager, and quite likely to be not fruitful. Also, make a firm decision as to, “what kind of a job you are actually looking for at present?”


    The objective section is a must for graduates, professionals with little or no experience, and candidates who would like to make a career change. It is mainly for candidates who are not fully established in career to name their intended job. It is optional for seasoned professionals, but can be effective and recommended. If you prefer to save some space in the first page, objective can be combined into the professional summary section.



    Objective

    Keen to expand my 4 years of experience in the design, development, and testing of various Java/JEE based Web based applications with a challenging position that has more leadership, business, and system integration focus.


    Objective

    Seeking an exciting position on a Java centric project acting as an architect where 10 year hands-on experience and being a mentor with both technical and business focus will be valued.




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    Andy Lester
    Author
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    Joined: Jun 03, 2009
    Posts: 61
    arulk pillai wrote:
    The objective section is a must for graduates, professionals with little or no experience, and candidates who would like to make a career change.


    I suggest that for these people, what they would put in an objective should go in the cover letter, where they have more room to elaborate.
    Mark Herschberg
    Sheriff

    Joined: Dec 04, 2000
    Posts: 6037
    Andy Lester wrote:
    arulk pillai wrote:
    The objective section is a must for graduates, professionals with little or no experience, and candidates who would like to make a career change.


    I suggest that for these people, what they would put in an objective should go in the cover letter, where they have more room to elaborate.


    Obviously this goes into a cover letter no matter what level you're at, but it should be in the resume, too. For a recent grad you need it to help distinguish yourself and to fill out an otherwise blank page. (BTW, for a recent grad, make sure you objective isn't generic either, "A challenging position utilizing my CS degree" still makes you look like everyone else.)

    For a career change, you'd obviously discuss your background and desire in the cover letter, but it's very important to be on a resume, too. Remember that most resumes are viewed for 15-45 second each. Cover letters either aren't read until after the short list of resumes has been created, or are read by HR but then a stack of resumes is giving to the hiring manager sans cover letter. The objective on your resume when making a career change is your way of saying during the 30 seconds resume scan, "it's not a mistake that I'm in this pile, it's intentional."

    --Mark
    Andy Lester
    Author
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    Joined: Jun 03, 2009
    Posts: 61
    Mark Herschberg wrote: Cover letters either aren't read until after the short list of resumes has been created,


    Unless you're me, and a cover letter that's written by a human means the resume immediately goes into the "to be printed and read carefully" pile. Cover letter = not shotgunned. That's gold to me.
    Henry Wong
    author
    Sheriff

    Joined: Sep 28, 2004
    Posts: 18847
        
      40

    Interesting. Considering the number of disagreements, I am definitely in the minority. The "objective" part of the resume doesn't bother me. In fact, when it is missing, sometimes I shuffle the pages -- probably due to thinking that the pages are out of order ...

    Henry
    Andy Lester
    Author
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    Joined: Jun 03, 2009
    Posts: 61
    Henry Wong wrote:
    Considering the number of disagreements,


    Not disagreements. Just different ways of doing things. :-)
    Ram kovis
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    Joined: Jun 23, 2005
    Posts: 130
    good discussion.. interesting points..


    I got fwded this in email.

    Luck matters ;-)

    With a pile of 300 resumes on his desk and a need to pick someone quickly, my boss told me to make calls on the bottom 50 and toss the rest. "Throw away 250 resumes?" I asked, shocked.
    "What if the best candidates are in there?"
    "You have a point," he said. "But then again, I don't need people with bad luck here."
    - Becky Horowitz(Reader'sdigest)


    sorry for the digression...
     
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