It's Official: The Death of the Resume Objective

by: Joanne Meehl

Let the proclamation go forth: the resume "Objective" is dead!

It's another casualty of this economy.

I haven't used one on clients' resumes in over twelve years. First, they're usually highly predictable, thus they are boring. Second, they are too selfish. Third, they use very valuable real estate that could be used for much better information. And a possible fourth: because of the first three, they make the user seem way out of date.

On the point of them being predictable thus boring, here's one that I've seen over the last 20+ years that never seems to change: "Seeking a challenging position with a growing company where I can use my many ______ skills". Yes, employers want to know what you want: they don't want to hire someone who's only lukewarm about their work or the company.

But your goal is better expressed in a Summary near the top of page 1 that uses phrases like "Thrives on teams that generate new ideas." It's better to use those words than to use longer, Latinate, multi-syllabic words that sound like a lawyer wrote them, as in "Succeeds in positive environments where innovation is a priority" -- too passive, no pictures, no "spark" to the language. Don't be afraid to be unique and different if it better describes how you'd jump right in and produce results right away. Those who read resumes are looking for the person who can clearly tell them why they should hire them -- and hire them now.

On the "selfishness" of an Objective, they are all about you, aren't they? "I want, I want, I want..." That's the key thing that makes them terrible to use. Today, every communication you make during a job search should be all about the employer and their pain and how you can eliminate it. Do I need to emphasize how important that is in this economy? Let me say this again: Do I need to tell you that you MUST do this today?

Obviously, what you say about yourself needs to be true of you. If it is true, and it's good stuff, then that's what should come across, not only in your Summary, but in your bulleted items. Still, so many people show me their resumes with an Objective because people out there who purport to be career counselors or coaches are still teaching them and using them. That's an outdated practice that I've written about elsewhere (scroll down for "Wrong, Wrong, Wrong, a rant", from July 2009), where well-intentioned people are giving out very old information.

And on the third point, and especially today, an employer wants to read your resume quickly, wants to know right away if you are a possible interview candidate. If you take up valuable space at the top of page 1 telling them what you want, in boring language, you are then NOT taking that space to say "Here's what I can do for YOU." So use that precious real estate to get to the point. Don't give history ("21 years as a Sales leader..."). Instead, give results ("Sales Professional who generates new revenue").

Resume "Objective": R.I.P. -- but we're glad you're gone.


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