Resume Objective lines – do you need one?

While still commonly used, the resume objective is often unnecessary, sometimes harming your interview chances, and rarely improving them.

Resume_000005359676XSmallYour resume should showcase your unique skills, experiences and your education. The objective line is not needed unless it truly adds more information above the rest of your resume.  Simply remove your objective line entirely if it has the following characteristics:

It is very general: “I am looking for a career in my chosen industry to gain experience and develop my skills.” Or, “I am looking for full-time employment with a forward-looking company.” Um, isn’t that obvious? Of course that’s what your objective is, and should be. But because it is just a generic statement, it doesn’t give any information and doesn’t make you stand out. Delete it. Similarly, adding popular keywords, clichés and long-winded terminology to a generic objective simply makes the statement longer, not better.

It is too specific: “My goal is to work at XYZ Company as an Assistant Marketing Coordinator.” While it’s good you have tailored your resume to fit the job, this looks insincere. In reality, your career objective is more general: to work in Marketing. It is not your life’s goal to work at XYZ as an assistant; stating this makes you sound like you are willing to say anything to get any job – not a good selling point. Use your cover letter to explain why you would be a good fit at that company, but keep your resume more open. Furthermore, there are often situations where a candidate is rejected for the first position, but offered a different one. With an Objective line stating that you want to be an Assistant Marketing Coordinator, why would you be offered a Communications Clerk position?

So when is a Resume Objective appropriate and useful? One purpose is if you are changing careers. When your resume shows a lot of experience in positions unrelated to what you are applying for, this warrants an explanation. It is important to mention both your history and your future goals in the objective: “To start a second career as a First Aid Instructor, building on my skills and 8 years of experience as a high school teacher.” Or, “To actively work in the growing mobile software industry, after several years spent looking in as a college software instructor.”

These types of objectives are looking forward, seeking change, and explaining why the person is unique. They also help clarify the resume, which likely has some unrelated experience. As well, it is essential to list the skills you have earned in a way that shows how your experience can be applied to the new career.

Now take a look at your own objective line: is it bland? Does it use big words in an attempt to sound less bland? Are you being generic, or are you saying something important about your career goals?