Dear Sam: I just read your latest column and wanted to thank you for the excellent advice and ask if you could share your insights on re-entering the job market after spending 20 years taking care of family. From time to time, I worked part-time jobs to help pay the bills, but the bulk of my working life has been as a caregiver, and now the last nine years as a full-time homemaker. Any advice will be greatly appreciated. – Anonymous

Dear Anonymous: Thank you for your readership. I could write a novel on branding for reentry into the job market, so with the limited space I have, I will tell you the #1 piece of advice I would have — identify your target. To do that, think about the part-time roles you have held and whether there are functions you performed that you would like to transfer into a new position. Are they roles you could enter into again at this stage in your journey? Do you want to do something completely different, perhaps requiring a return to a specialized education program? What are you seeking in your next role regarding work-life balance and compensation? You will want to dive into the ‘why’ of returning to work so you can determine the ‘what’ that will make the most sense for you moving forward. The key to transitioning back into the workforce after having cared mainly for your family is determining what you want to do next and writing a resume based on the transferable skills you possess that qualify you for that target. I have worked with many parents returning to work, and I will tell you that the more targeted they are, the more successful their search. All the best!

Dear Sam: I read your article about creativity in resumes and found it very helpful. I had a question about using the “Job Objective” section of the resume. I have heard that that is no longer in fashion, and instead, one should replace it with a “Professional Summary” focused on what skills and experience you bring to the table. I was told that a “Job Objective” can read too much like what you, the candidate, wants in a job, not the value you bring to the company. A well-written “Professional Summary” delivers a message that connects the dots to the job. Given I have read advice to the contrary from resume experts I have seen online, I wanted to get your expert advice. By the way, I teach transitioning veterans about job searching and have always told them not to use a “Job Objective.” – Bill

Dear Bill: You are correct that an objective statement tells the reader what the candidate wants. Many years ago, when objective statements were still used to appease increasingly diverse audiences, they were becoming increasingly broad and vague and resulted in wasted space in the most important real estate on your resume. I started writing resumes almost exactly 20 years ago, and in all that time, I believe I have written fewer than 5 resumes containing objective statements, each for incredibly unique reasons.

The most critical section of your resume is the top third of page one, which should contain a compelling message connecting your candidacy to your targeted positions. A “Qualifications Summary,” as it is more often referred to, should open a resume and immediately communicate the skills, experiences, and qualifications a candidate possesses that align with the positions they seek. To do that effectively, a candidate should conduct as targeted a search as possible, avoiding the need to completely rewrite their resume each time they apply for a position.

I have not come across a professional in this field in my entire career that has believed resumes should start with an objective statement, so I’m not sure whom you are referring to as an expert online promoting the use of an objective. Like in any field, you should do your due diligence to ensure the advice given is true expertise and not opinion-based. It sounds like you are giving the veterans you serve the proper guidance.