Should I Include an Objective on My Resume?

Many resumes are started with an objective or job objective section where the job seeker tells the reader what type of position he or she is seeking.  The problem with putting a job objective on your resume is that doing so might prevent you from being considered for all available jobs with a specific company.  For example, if you offer a job objective statement that reads, "Seeking an entry level position in the marketing department . . ." you are telling the reader you don't consider yourself qualified or aren't interested in other jobs other than "entry level" and that are in the marketing department.

A second problem regarding resume job objectives is that they are often vague and meaningless statements with puffed-up language that many people copy from resume writing guides.   Below are examples of really bad, self-serving job objectives:

Bad:  "Seeking a position where my excellent communication skills can be effectively utilized to contribute to revenue" 
Awful: "To add to the profitability of Acme Corporation by utilizing my excellent customer relations skills"
Terrible: "Sales position where I can provide assistance in the selection and use of appropriate products and services"
Embarrassing:  "To obtain a position with a company that encourages professional growth and offers opportunities for advancement"

Statements such as these are just put on resumes to flll up space and they don't tell the reader anything useful about you except that you like to use over-used phrases found on thousands of resumes.  The last job objective example is particularly bad in that it tells the reader that this job seeker is really only looking out for himself (herself) and is interested mostly in salary, benefits and getting promoted.  Keep in mind that hundreds of people put these same vague job objective statements on their resumes and human resource personnel get tired of reading the same objectives over and over.

Avoid job objectives that try to flatter the company to whom you are applying.  For example, this type of job objective might read "to work for a top-rated, ethical company such as Acme Corporation" or "to work for the smartest CEO in the world" or "to work for the #1 computer manufacturer in the world" or "to work for the only auto manufacturer making a profit". These types of job objectives tell the reader that you're looking out for yourself and you're a bit of a suck-up.

Should you put a job objective on your resume?  Most human resource professionals who have been asked about this say not to include a job objective section, but it isn't a big deal to them if you do it.  Companies aren't going to throw your resume in the trash just because you put a job objective on your resume unless it gives the reader a negative impression.  But if you do offer one, make sure it tells the people who read it something useful and important and doesn't include any general, self-serving, puffed-up language.  A good job objective should state the position in which you are interested in applying or several different positions that you might be interested in.  Don't limit yourself to one position if you're applying with a big company or placing your resume in a job database.

For example, if you have been an elementary school teacher for 20 years and you want to keep teaching fifth graders, it might very well be a good idea to start your resume with a job objective that reads "Seeking a position as an elementary school teacher, preferably teaching fifth graders" since you are applying to a school district with many different types of job positions and that's the only one you're qualified to do.  However, if you're also qualified to be an elementary school principal, then don't limit yourself with a job objective seeking a position only as a teacher.  If you are an IT professional capable of doing many different jobs such as computer programmer, software developer, systems analyst, etc., don't limit yourself to one aspect of information technology with a job objective that reads "seeking a position in software development . . ." when the company might have other job openings in IT that would also interest you.  Such a job objective tells the reader you're only interested in software development jobs and nothing else.  A good job objective in this situation should list several different jobs in IT which the job applicant is interested in and qualified to do.

And don't confuse a job objective with a summary section of a resume.  You should definitely put a summary section on your resume as it tells the reader all of your most important qualifications and job experience in a nutshell. Resumes that do not begin with a summary section are at a distinct disadvantage over those that do begin with a summary and many HR professionals won't even read resumes without a summary section.

Related topic:   How to write a summary section.

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