The other day on Twitter, I retweeted a message about objective statements on resumes that I wholeheartedly agreed with: “Number 1 way to improve your resume today: remove that objective statement!”
I wound up sparking a healthy debate with a couple of students that 140 characters couldn’t do justice to. If I’m to be subjective about objective statements, I would confess that I don’t like them. I’ve never had one on my resume, and I’ve done just fine. However, I want to give some objective (hopefully) thought to the resume objective.
If you decide to include an objective on your resume, make it a professionally relevant, well-written one. A good objective should:
- Be customized to specifically match the position you’re applying for
- Indicate that you know what you want
- Convey familiarity with the field
In other words, a solid objective is “user-centered,” i.e. employer-centered. I often tell students I meet with on resumes that while their resume is about them, it’s not really about them. It outlines their experiences and qualifications in a way that is focused on a hiring organization’s needs.
However, I more often see “job-seeker-centered” objectives: “To obtain an internship that will allow me to gain experience and that will allow me to learn the skills that employers are seeking today.”
It’s all about that individual and really doesn’t say anything. Compare that with, “Help ABC Association achieve its fundraising goals this summer by joining the Marketing & Public Relations team as an intern.” Now that objective tells me something.
When Should You Use an Objective Statement?
There are arguments to be made in favor of objectives on resumes. In my office alone, at least two of us will favor not using one but at least two will say you should have one. This 50/50 split could happen among recruiters as well. You never know who will be receiving your resume when you apply for an internship or job: an objective lover or an objective hater. The odds aren’t in your favor either way, so go with what you prefer.
In other situations, you may wish to intentionally limit yourself to particular opportunities. If you have uploaded your resume online but only wish to stay in a particular geographic location, you might consider stating that in an objective. This element still winds up being user-centered as it hopefully prevents a company from unnecessarily interviewing you for a job you wouldn’t accept.
Why Should You Consider Getting Rid of Your Objective?
Plan and simple, objective statements are antiquated. More recruiters are moving to the anti-objective camp. Objectives basically state the obvious. When applying for a job, your objective should be to get that position. Otherwise, why are you applying?
Every piece of real estate on your resume is valuable, but none more so than at the top of the page. Including an objective, stating the obvious, eats up valuable space that could be used much more effectively.
Even if the concept of an objective on your resume is nearing retirement, it doesn’t mean that YOU don’t have a career objective for yourself. You should know why you’re applying for a specific position, understand the field you’re going into, and know what you want. Know it for yourself and share it in much more productive ways.
Laura serves as Internship Coordinator at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater in the office of Career & Leadership Development. In this role, Laura advises students who are pursuing internships, assists employers with intern recruitment, and supports university faculty who oversee academic internships. She also provides students with job search readiness assistance through presentations, individual counseling, and social media. Laura earned her bachelors degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she majored in French and Political Science, and she received her masters degree in Counseling from UW-Whitewater. To learn more about Laura, read her blog, follow her on Twitter, or connect on LinkedIn.