Do Objectives Really Matter on Resumes?

Ah, the age-old debate of the objective. Everyone wonders about it. A decade ago, no resume was complete with out a resume objective. Nowadays, resume objective statements are gradually becoming obsolete, and we (hiring professionals) do recommend omitting or replacing them with well-written professional profile summaries.

 

A Deeper Dive into the Debate

It’s one of those sticky questions that divides career experts everywhere. If you got 100 of them in a room, 50 would likely say yes, you should list a career objective on your resume; the other half would probably say no. Those arguing against objectives say they are too limiting, poorly constructed, and focused on the job seeker’s needs rather than the employer’s.

Those in favor say that employers want to be able to determine in just a few seconds what you want to do for the organization, and what you’re good at. An objective can help meet that employer need. To some employers, the lack of an objective translates into a job seeker who doesn’t know what he or she wants. On the other hand, numerous employers say they rarely see a well-written objective.

 

Is It Relevant to the Position They Applied For?

If the candidate’s personal objective is very specific to a particular industry or position, then think about its relevance to the position you’re looking to fill. For example, if their objective is to find employment within the medical sector, how will it be received if they leave it on the resume you get when applying for a job in computing? This is also just paying attention to detail. They may feel that you are unlikely to stay with the company if a better offer comes along from an airline company a few months or a few years later.

 

Does Their Objective Communicate Well?

 "I am an enthusiastic career driven individual with a strong team emphasis who excels in embracing tough new challenges and is able to motivate others towards achieving a common purpose."

 

This example objective lays out its intentions and provides you with insight into the individual's work ethic, which could be very appealing to them. Think about using your own personal objective to communicate some important details about your character that would be beneficial to an employer.

 

Does Their Objective Have a Clear Meaning?

Sometimes personal objectives can make sense to the person writing it but no sense at all to you the reader. Ensure that their objective fits the job description and gives you a general feel for their experience and intention.

 

Does Their Objective Put Them In a Positive Light?

Some personal objectives can be a positive turn-off to employers, even though they may be about something prospective employees are passionate about. I once read a personal objective in a resume that talked about how it had been the person's ambition to keep sheep and learn about caring for animals. This resume was being sent in for a computing job! Statements like this in the wrong context can leave you feeling that the candidate is strange or eccentric, even if you they are passionate about a past time or hobby. 

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Tags: HR, objectives, resume

Comment by Valentino Martinez on April 1, 2011 at 2:06pm

Presenting an "Objective" statement on a resume does many things.

  • It specifies that anything not related would be of less interest than the career "Objective"
  • It can be too specific to be of interest to an employer
  • It can be right on and exactly what an employer wants to know about you and your ambition(s)
  • It can cut the chase
  • It can cut you out of contention for a job or a number of jobs
  • It can open the door to a great career as long as the rest of your resume qualifies you
  • It can close the door to a great career even if the rest of your resume qualifies you
  • It can be so general it's useless but sounds flowery
  • It can be wonderful because your wonderful for having an object where many don't
  • It can be all these things and more...
Comment by Ty Abernethy on April 1, 2011 at 4:55pm
I agree Valentino.  It can do good, but it can also do harm.  Because of the potential negatives, I prefer to just leave it off.  Thanks!
Comment by Helena Smith on April 1, 2011 at 5:22pm

In many career services departments, it is consistently mentioned that a clear and consise objective is necessary for many of the reasons that was listed previous post.  However, I have noticed that for more seasoned professionals, their are fewer objectives and more emphasis on concrete accomplishments.

Comment by C. B. Stalling!! on April 2, 2011 at 7:08am
I never read them. The person wants a job Right!
Comment by Sandra McCartt on April 2, 2011 at 12:18pm
No, leave them off.  Just a potential knock out factor.  The only time an objective should be on there is if there a specific objective.  "Neurosurgeon looking for partnership potential in the Dallas area"  Meaning private group only and only in Dallas.
Comment by Simon Meth on April 2, 2011 at 1:05pm
As a corporate recruiter, I use objectives to eliminate candidates. For example, they may have applied for a Program Manager position but the objective says that they want to lead an engineering department. Reject! So the objective must be directly relevant to the job wanted.
Comment by Luke Toland on April 2, 2011 at 5:36pm
Objective: to solve world peace, the Japan nuclear crisis, halve the U.S. unemployment rate, prevent a future financial meltdown, and to be an outstanding employee for your company

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