Ask three people to look over your resume, and you’ll get three different perspectives on what should and shouldn’t be on there.
Yet, somehow, pretty much everyone agrees that objective statements are out of fashion. In their place, you’ve probably heard, should be a resume summary statement. Or, since you need to keep it all to one page anyway, just save the space and dive right into your relevant experience.
And that’s true, generally. But there’s one occasion when your resume should, in fact, return to the objective statement: when you’re making a huge career change.
Think about it. If you have, say, five years of experience in business development and you’re now interested in marketing, your resume probably isn’t selling you as the best candidate for the gigs you’re applying to.
In this case, you could definitely benefit from having an objective statement to clearly explain that you’re making the switch and show how your skill set aligns with this new career path. It might even be confusing if you don’t use an objective statement if your experience doesn’t line up cleanly with the position you’re applying for.
That said, it’s very easy to get resume objective statements wrong. That’s probably why they’ve gotten such a bad reputation—people just write them poorly. Something like “Objective: To obtain a position as a public relations specialist at an innovative and impactful company that utilizes my skills and experience” is literally just wasting space—every single company in the world likes to think of itself as “innovative and impactful,” and it’s not clear what “skills and experience” this person brings to the job. The top of your resume is prime real estate, so you don’t squander it by using vague filler material.
A better approach is to be as specific as possible about your goal and plainly state how you intend to bring your skills and strengths to a position—something like this: “Objective: To leverage my 10+ years of client-facing experience, public speaking skills, and expertise in the tech industry in a public relations role at a growing educational technology startup.” Like a summary statement, it shows off your skills, but it also explains exactly how you plan to transition them in a new role.
While you’ll often hear that the resume objective statement is dead, it’s important to note that, really, there just aren’t any hard and fast rules when it comes to resume writing. (In fact, the only resume advice that really matters is to do what it takes to get the interview.) Focus on what works for your experience, not what works for the masses.
And if that means including a resume objective statement, go for it.
Resume Objective Statements: When to Add and When to Omit
Objective Statements Can Impact the Success of Your Resume
Your resume always includes your employment history and contact information, but does it also need an objective statement?
Some job hunters begin their resume with a short introductory statement, briefly summarizing their skills and why they should get the job. Most objective statements contain three parts: what job you want, why you should get it, and why you would benefit the company.
Some resume writers see objective statements as old-fashioned or redundant, and this can often be the case. In a few instances, however, an objective statements can focus your resume and catch your potential employer’s eye.
Consider omitting an objective statement if:
- you’re including a cover letter with your resume. The format of objective statements may sound suspiciously familiar– that’s because you probably said something similar in your cover letter! Rather than describe your qualifications again on your resume, leave off the objective statement. It can be repetitive and distract the reader from the employment details in your resume.
- you’re applying for a similar job to your past positions. Your resume already tells your potential employer what you’ve done and how your past jobs have prepared you. If the skills on your resume will impress your employer, let them speak for themselves without an objective statement.
- the job listing is unclear or the responsibilities are flexible. Since objective statements focus your employment goals, they can be limiting or meaningless if you’re not sure exactly what the job entails. An objective statement on your resume might pigeonhole you into one job.
Consider adding an objective statement when:
- you’re only asked for a resume. If your application does not include a cover letter and there are no references on your resume, an objective statement might help demonstrate your interest to an employer. Because objective statements are tailored specifically to the job, including one will signal that your resume is not a mass mailing but part of a thoughtful application.
- you’ve held unrelated jobs in the past. If your resume details experiences in different fields than the one you’re applying for, it might leave your prospective employer wondering why you’re changing paths. An objective statement on your resume will show why you want the change – and why you’ll succeed in a new environment.
- you have little to no prior experience on your resume. Students writing a resume for internships or writing a resume for entry-level jobs may lack a work history that reflects their useful skills or employment goals. Writing an objective statement at the top of your resume will remind your reader of your goals and abilities, even if you haven’t proven them on the job yet.
Your resume can say a lot without objective statements. But if you think your employer needs extra information he or she can’t get from your job history, preface your resume with an objective statement that clarifies who you are and what you can accomplish.
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