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Do Objectives Help Résumés?

Do Objectives Help Résumés?

From Career Tips, 2008 Volume 1, January 2008

Frankly, no!


OK, it can be helpful to recruiters, making it easier for them to slot your résumé to the right pile. But that doesn't make it helpful to your true 'target', the hiring manager!


I was a hiring manager for many years, and found that most Objectives are simply wasted space. If you are applying for a specific opening, I already know that, so how does making sure your résumé says that position title at the top help me?


One core problem is that an Objective is about you, and not about what you can do for me, the hiring manger. And if you include statements about your personal goals and desires, it just emphasizes the point. When was the last time you read a sales brochure that started out "Our goal is to sell you lots of our products so that we can achieve our profit objectives."


There is one type of Objective statement that COULD be effective, if expressed well. That would be an Objective couched as a Marketing Headline.


This would be where you happen to express what your objective is, but in the context of a statement about the sorts of results you could bring to your target employer in that role. For example, one of my clients was a sales professional whose core achievement was that he always met his sales goals. In that case it was possible to put out a headline at the top of his résumé along the lines of:


Sales Professional Who Consistently
Meets or Exceeds All Assigned Targets

This could be tailored to a more specific niche, like


"Medical Device Sales Expert who ..."


OK, you've decided not to bother with an Objective section. Do you just start with your work history?


Of course not!


You first need to grab my attention and get me interested in the package you have to offer. You need to summarize what it is that you bring to the table, framing how I even read the rest of your résumé.


Include a section that:

  • Communicates what you can accomplish for your target employer at the high level.
  • Presents your breadth and depth of experience and skills.
  • Demonstrates that breadth and depth through results, problems and solutions, instead of just saying that you have them. 


How do you do this?


Example: Don't state that you have "Effective oral and written communication skills," make a statement that demonstrates them, like

"Recognized for engaging non-technical audiences on highly technical subject material."


Example: Don't tell me you are a "Results-oriented project manager," give me an example of those results, such as

"Skilled at delivering $1-10 million technology infrastructure projects on time and within budget."


Example: Don't tell me you are a "strategic thinker," demonstrate it, such as

"Expertise in creating and implementing product strategies that open new target markets."


Put all of this together into a "Profile", "Summary of Qualifications", or whatever you want to call your section - just don't call it "Objectives!" Then review that profile relative to the needs of the type of position you seek, and any other elements you might bring to the table that could enhance the package you have to offer.


It's fine to have Objectives FOR YOUR OWN PURPOSES. Use these to focus your search, and to communicate to networking contacts what you seek. Just don't waste your time putting them into your résumé!


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