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Q: What is an Objective Statement and how should it be used in a resume?

A: An Objective Statement is a short, concise statement that answers the question, "What job are you applying for?" It's not a vague description of a job or the duties you're looking for in a position. In fact, many times you can actually omit the Objective Statement altogether. When you apply for a Federal position using USA Jobs, you get to the application page through the job announcement. There's no question as to what position you're applying for so the Objective Statement is unnecessary.

If you're applying for a private sector position, your Objective Statement will say something like, "Seeking a position as an IT Analyst at ABC Corporation." If you're tempted to say something like, "Seeking a position that will utilize my business skills," you're better off omitting the statement altogether because it takes up space. Instead, talk about your skills in the Experience section of the resume.

Interview Preparation Tips

Being prepared for an interview is more than just wearing appropriate attire or being on time and having extra copies of your resume. It's having the ability to communicate your accomplishments to the employer.

Are you confident your next interview will result in a job offer? If you're not prepared for the interview, the answer is probably no. Here are some areas to focus on so you're prepared to show the interviewer why you're the best candidate.

Show Your Worth

First, employers need to know you can articulate what's in it for them. Showing what value you bring to an organization allows them to see a better picture of you.

Save Some Money

Companies are also interested in knowing if you've streamlined a process, thereby reducing time and saving money. In this time of frequent budget cuts, saving time and money is key.

Quantify

Quantifying your results by using numbers and percentages to show how much or how often gives a true picture of the contributions you've made to an organization. Selling the agency on what you've accomplished versus what your responsibilities are is the key to success.

Answer Questions Using the STAR Method

STAR is defined as:

Situation
What challenges were you facing?
Task
What were you asked to do?
Action
What did you do?
Results
Was the objective achieved, and if so, what impact did it have on the organization?

Performance reviews and knowledge of the skills you've performed will assist you in creating your STAR accomplishment statements. Having at least 5-10 accomplishment statements prepared ahead of time will increase your confidence responding to questions. Practice rehearsing these statements by using the most commonly asked interview questions.

Questions to Prepare For

One question you should always be prepared to answer is, "What are your weaknesses?" When responding, keep your response brief and explain what you've learned or done to improve and how your improvement has strengthened you as an employee and then move on.

Another question an employer could ask is, "Can you tell me a time where you took initiative to resolve an issue?"

An example of a STAR response would be: "Working on a systems implementation project, I noticed we were over budget. While conducting research, I discovered we were receiving duplicate invoices and paid the vendor twice for the same services. This raised a red flag and I offered to conduct a full investigation, traveling to Texas to perform an internal audit. This resulted in locating approximately 30 duplicate paid invoices which resulted in us recovering over $50,000 from the vendor."

Have a Question Ready

Finally, an interview is a two-way street so to make a strong impression on the interviewer, be prepared to answer the inevitable question, "Do you have any questions for us?" Asking questions at the end of the interview not only demonstrates your readiness and interest in the position, it also gives you the opportunity to see if the position is a good fit for you. Having no questions prepared sends the message that you're not interested or ill-prepared.

Remember, it's important you communicate your accomplishments in a clear and concise format for best results.