The Objective: Tell your potential employer where you want to be
Your objective is the first thing prospective hospitality employers see on your resume, so it must grab them from the start and encourage them to read on. An objective is a brief, no more than 20-word statement of your personal work mandate. It must walk a fine line between being too general and too specific. Too general, and an industry employer will pass you over for someone who seems more qualified. Too specific, and you might limit your options for employment in an interesting, thriving business.
Says Peter Shrive, a partner with Cambridge Management Planning Inc., "You want to give the reader a general idea of what you're about, but at the same time the objective has to be as specific as you dare. It has to tell prospective employers what you want, where you'll be the happiest and therefore the most productive. It's the first opportunity on your resume to give the reader an idea of who you are and where you want to be."
Tailoring your Objective
Nothing is worse as an objective than a total generality. If you're going to be general, you might as well write, "I'm looking for a job," says Shrive. At the other extreme is a mistake many job seekers make, of using meaningless corporate jargon, such as "I want to use my excellent skillset to grow your business."
Chef/consultant Gary E. Miller, who has worked in the restaurant industry more than 25 years, has been on both ends of hiring: as a prospective employee and a hiring employer. "One objective I used to put on my resume was 'to produce top quality food in a top quality kitchen.' It's very much to the point of what you need to do."
For several months he's been hiring staff for the rapidly growing Firkin Group chain of pubs and family-style restaurants. Sifting through hundreds of resumes, he's found most objectives to be too general and non-descriptive. "I received a resume for a training position as a cook," he says. "It didn't meet any of the criteria. The objective said: 'Seeking a position where my skills and experience can be fully utilized.' The objective needs to be really clear. If they don't have the resume to back it up, they must say they really love the restaurant industry, they have spent time in the business, have the interest and a willingness to learn."
Your objective, like your resume, should change with each job posting. A one-size-fits-all approach will give recruiters the impression you're mass mailing for jobs. Your experience and skills are facts you can't change, but, advises Peter Shrive, you can adapt them to the particular hospitality posting. Also, if your career goals have changed, you must ensure your objective reflects the fact you're ready for a change. For instance, if you've been a server for 10 years but want more challenge, your objective is where you tell prospective employers you'd like to be a restaurant manager or maitre'd.
The Good, The Bad and The Ugly
The right objective will make recruiters and HR managers put your resume on the must-interview pile. Here are some examples of objectives to avoid and others to adopt, offered by Peter Shrive:
- I want to use my skills to make your company better.
- To participate in the strategic leadership of a progressive organization.
- To gain a position of increasing responsibility that will highlight my expertise.
- To apply my sales background to increase the bottom line of a boutique hotel.
- To work directly with customers in the hospitality industry.
- A career as a front desk clerk serving customers in a major international hotel chain.
- Employment as a sommelier in an upscale (50 table-plus) downtown dining establishment.
- Work as a server in a busy suburban, family-oriented eatery with potential for advancement to management.
- I am a Cordon Bleu-trained chef seeking an appointment as a chef in a restaurant featuring fine French cuisine.
Taking the time to hone your objective will not only communicate your hopes and desires for employment to prospective employers, but it will also help you focus your entire resume. Short, sweet, powerful - that's a winning objective.