Resume Objective Statements: Objecting to Objective Statements on Résumés

Today we have a treat – my JibberJobber Partner (career coach and resume writer) Julie Walraven answers some questions I have about the objective statement on a resume.  You may have one of these on YOUR resume… if so, you’ll definitely want to read this.  If you don’t, read it and you’ll have peace of mind about why you don’t have it.  (Julie Walraven’s blog // Julie Walraven on Twitter)

Jason: What is the objective statement?

julie_walravenJulie: From my perspective, Jason, the better question is “What was the objective statement?” When thinking of the traditional objective statement, such as “I want a position that offers a challenge working with a committed team of people in a progressive environment,” this is an archaic phrasing that went away years ago.

Jason: What is the history of it? Was it controversial 5 or 10 years ago?

Julie: I researched my résumé books hoping to find an author that championed the objective statement in the above format. But even an old book that someone donated to my résumé book collection, written in 1983 by Herman Holtz, Beyond the Résumé: How to Land the Job You Want, I only found Holtz talking about why you want to be specific in your target.

The objective statement has been replaced by the banner headline of the résumé, which according to the notes from the “Mastering the Art of Résumé Writing” session at the 2010 Career Thought Leaders Conference & Symposium, says “Headline  Provides immediate focus.”Louise Kursmark and Wendy Enelow from the Résumé Writing Academy who have co-authored many of the best résumé books on the market have long advocated dropping that lengthy objective statement.

I will confess that before I turned to organizations like Career Thought Leaders and Career Directors International for my source of information, I put those archaic statements on resumes back in the 80’s.

Jason: What’s the big deal today, why are people saying to not put it on?

Julie: A résumé is a marketing tool. YOU, the jobseeker, are the product. Gayle Howard, one of the world’s leading résumé writers writes in her book, “PS, You’re a Résumé Expert,” a guidebook for Career Directors International’s résumé certification courses, “This is one of the most hackneyed phrases ever written, and it’s all about me, me, me” Gayle’s amusing example continues, “How many people would actually prefer working in “a treadmill position, surrounded by boring deadbeats, in a potentially bankrupt, and stultifying atmosphere?”

Jason: What’s a good alternative then, if you don’t put on the objective statement? Why?

Julie: You want a Banner Headline, such as Sales Manager, coupled with perhaps a branding statement which adds uniqueness and personality.

Sales Manager | Operations Manager | Business Coach

Talented Leader and Manager with initiative to move projects forward.
Excels in delivering exceptional customer experience and satisfaction.

You could offset that with graphic lines or put it in a text box to grab the reader’s attention. This strategy puts you back in a marketing mode, again selling YOU the product.

Jason: Would it ever make sense to have an objective statement on the résumé?

Julie: No! Make sure that the advice you are taking for your résumé and your career marketing strategies is from someone who is connected with the leading career minds in the world. If you are using an old business textbook, you will end up on the bottom of the résumé pile with no offers in your hand.

Thanks for the opportunity to visit, Jason!

Julie Walraven — Your Career Marketing Strategist “When I  began writing resumes, I had no idea it would become my career and drive me into exploring technology, career management, and recently, the intriguing world of social media. Networked with the best and brightest career minds in the world, I want to use my resources and knowledge to help you succeed in your career path.”

14 thoughts on “Resume Objective Statements: Objecting to Objective Statements on Résumés”

  1. I agree with you 100% Julie. While one should never state the career objective on the resume, it is crucial for job seekers to know what that objective is as they are writing the resume or working with a career coach/resume writer to develop the resume. The resume must be written in such a way that the reviewer can see the career trajectory. Too often, resumes are too focused on where a candidate has been rather than on where the candidate is going. So, having a solid career goal is really important. The biggest problem I have with objectives on the resume is that they are too focused on what the candidate wants rather than on what he or she can do for the employer. I’m with you… I whole-heartedly object to objectives (on the resume). But, a good job seeker should be able to express his/her career goals.

  2. Thanks, Jerome, I missed your comment yesterday but yes, the candidate should express his career goals but also explain how the goal integrates with the employers goals. If the goal is Sales Manager, the employer should know by reading the top 1/3 to 1/2 of the resume what value that individual would bring to the team as a sale manager. Your history is important in that it is proven but your value is what you can do in the next position. Thanks for the comment!

  3. I agree. As an employer I often find then annoying. “I want to work in a company that values my skills and provides room for advanced.”. Doesn’t every one of the other 50 people applying for the job. Worse, sometime the objective statement is inconsistent with the job they are applying for. If you are looking to go to law school, you may not want to say that if you are applying for an accounting position. Why would I want to train you if you are leaving in a year?
    A good resume is focussed on why you are the right person for the job that is open. Not what you want to do some day in the future.

  4. Good point, Rand. I believe a targeted banner is essential to let people know what you are seeking but it can be changed. It goes back to the top 1/3 to 1/2 of the resume. You can customize that area with the right keywords and accomplishments to match the position you are applying for and have multiple versions. The balance of the resume can remain much the same unless you have some very diverse targets.

  5. I think jobseekers’ objective statements are like companies’ missions statements. If you’ve seen one, you’ve seen ’em all. So why do all the resume builder apps and templates still have these archaic constructions? Why not just cut and past from a job ad (if you’re applying for a listed job), “… to get a job for XX as a YY and to perform it well.”

  6. First of all, resume builder apps are not a source for cutting edge strategies in resume writing nor are templates. If you want to know how to do something right, see an expert. With the predominance of the best and the brightest resume writers now very visible on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, no job seeker should be relying on templates. Check out the writers samples. If you can not afford to invest in their services, you can at least study the samples, understand the strategy, spend time reading the FREE resume writing and job search information from career experts and create your own winning strategy.

    Cutting and pasting from a job ad doesn’t give the employer an inkling of why you are the best candidate for the position. Performing it well means nothing. How can you differentiate yourself from the 100 other applicants! Success in a job search comes to those who invest at least their own time in creating the best possible first impression!

  7. I have found the Objective Statement to be odd too – but I do encourage people to do a kind of summary that may include objectives. I myself am souring on the Objective Statement, but I do recall when people pushed for them.

    The important thing is a resume tells a story. An outright “give me this” objective really does clash with the big picture. It interrupts the narrative flow of what you’re doing.

  8. Good points, Steven. I tend to call the top section professional profile, which may or may not have a heading to it. But in that section, I want the sales piece that tells me what qualifies them for the position. Like this:

    Global Marketing Executive, with extensive experience educating consumers, coaching and training effective sales teams, building creative presentations, and forging strategic long-term client relationships. Resourceful, participative and mentoring leader, for example – created monthly product training seminars and paired with weekly marketing call, resulting in expertly educated sales team and improved alignment with corporate programs. Success-driven sales closer with a reputation for “closing soon and often” and maximizing market share by closing sales competition sold but failed to close.

  9. Julie,

    That’s a bit longer than I usually recommended, but that’s exactly what I think people need to use. It tells ABOUT you without making it ABOUT you. It’s a subtle difference.

    And a pain to explain. The amount of bad resume I’ve seen is horrible and I don’t coach professionally. I dread to imagine what you’ve seen.

  10. Julie,

    Fully agree that the Objective is dead on the resume. I also think that one needs to spend an inordinate amount of time on that area right below the name and address on one’s resume. I call it the “Point of White Heat.”

    I believe it’s here that you can best customize your resume to the specific position you are applying to. For me, even in this area I like to see quantifiable accomplishments and not just a bunch of meaningless words.

    Thanks for helping put the fork in the Resume Objective because it’s certainly done.


  11. The purpose of an objective statement is to tell the reader what you are trying to achieve: your personal or professional objectives. The statement is a concisely written declaration that answers the question – Why are you sending me a resume? A agree that this statement shouldn’t be in the resume but definitely nees to be in the cover letter – the sales letter for your resume!

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