Objectives. Sigh. It’s rare I encounter an objective that actually adds value to an individual’s resume. When you consider they are positioned right at the top and sure to have the prospective employer’s undivided attention, it is a shame they often do little to capture interest or set one candidate apart from another. What a waste of prime advertising space.

Most objectives read something like this: “To obtain a challenging position where I may use my skills and experience to benefit an organization.” Blah, blah, blah. Boring. Not only is it boring, it’s so predictable and overused there is no way the prospective employer is reading the objective and thinking “I’ve just got to interview this person!”

So what are objectives even for? For those who want to use one, it’s a nice place to succinctly state what it is you are seeking. Usually the resume should give hiring managers a pretty good idea, however. In cases where the resume clearly points an arrow towards what the candidate wishes to do, I think objectives eat up valuable marketing space stating the obvious. There are occasions where the resume doesn’t make it as clear and an objective can add clarity. If your past experience is heavy in a certain area and you are looking to move in a different direction an objective could very well serve as a way to clue the reader in on what it is you actually wish to do.

Let’s say you have 10 years of upper management experience and are applying to jobs that are more support level. Perhaps you don’t want the responsibility or stress anymore. Those reading your resume may assume you would logically be looking to remain at your current level or progress to the next. An objective along the lines of “to obtain a supportive role within an organization that could benefit from my knowledge as a former executive” could go a long way to make it clear management is not on your personal agenda. That’s not exactly the most eloquent way to put it, but you get the gist. It drives the point home that you did indeed mean to apply for the support level position posted and the interest in the role is genuine. Using an objective to get rid of the “what the heck is this person applying to my job for?” question is beneficial.

Objectives are also a great way to set the record straight in other areas. If you have a unique need/requirement for considering a job, the objective can be used to cut to the chase. Let’s say you can only consider a part-time position in the evenings. It doesn’t hurt to spell that out in the objective. An example for that scenario would be: “To obtain a part-time customer service position with evening hours.” It’s not an exciting way to use this precious space on your resume, but it does get the point across in a brief and visible way what it is you are able to consider. If an employer is indeed looking for employees to fill part-time evening positions, you’ve made it perfectly clear your needs are compatible.

One more scenario that comes to mind is the person living in one city/state who is seeking employment in another. Resumes that look as though the candidate may require relocation to take a position often end up at the bottom of the pile. Companies prefer not to deal with the expense or hassle of relocation if a local candidate is an option. If you fully intend to be local to that company in the near future, spelling that out is wise. That way the employer in Phoenix who sees your Detroit address has a reason to keep reading. An objective for this scenario could be along the lines of “to obtain a Financial Analyst position in Phoenix upon my relocation in July.” Again, not the most eloquent example. I’m going for making a point versus wowing you with my writing ability. The example shows a few things. You are aware you are applying for a job that isn’t local. You aren’t just randomly applying to jobs all over the country. You fully intend to move to the area. You have a plan in place and a date to expect to be there whether that employer hires you or not. All of the above are reassuring to hiring managers.

I fully believe objectives are not necessary for most people. As I said in the very beginning, they are usually a waste of advertising space. If an objective helps clarify your interest or differentiate you from other candidates, use one. If not, don’t feel you are breaking a rule if you choose to sideline your objective. If you can use that space for something with more “WOW” factor, it won’t be missed. The sooner you direct attention to your relevant skills, the better. Most have heard the studies indicating most resumes aren’t read past the first half of the first page. That makes the use of an objective an important decision.


  • Liz says:

    Great post. I have been telling my clients the same thing about the Objective/Summary section for a long time but you do such a great job of succinctly explaining the issues that I may just send my clients a link to this post.


    Liz Handlin

  • అనిల్ says:

    Yes, Lisa. Most of the applicants do not seem to understand the significance of an Objective – to the recruiter and most importantly to themselves. It would save them a lot of time if they are clear about their objective right at the top of their résumé.

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