The resume objective has been a mainstay of resume templates for a long time, but in today’s job market, using one can do more harm than good.
As the name suggests, an objective statement basically tells the reader what your goal is. For example: To obtain a position as a marketing coordinator with [insert name of company here] or To use my analytical skills to obtain a position as a financial analyst.
Competition for jobs can be fierce, and when you consider the fact that hiring managers only look at a resume for a few seconds before making a decision, it’s crucial to ensure every inch of the document is working in your favor. And the objective statement no longer makes the cut.
3 Reasons You Should Ditch the Resume Objective
If you need to understand why you should delete that objective statement, here are three compelling reasons.
1. They Aren’t Really Useful
When you think about it, an objective statement is pretty redundant—you’re applying for a job, so it should be clear what your objective is. But beyond that, they don’t give the reader any new or useful information.
Add to that the fact that they take up some of the most valuable real estate on the first document a recruiter or hiring manager sees—a document that often determines whether or not you’ll move forward and get an interview.
If it’s not useful or informative, what is it doing on your resume?
2. They’re Self-Centered
Objective statements are entirely focused on you, what you want the reader to do for you, or what you expect to get out of the relationship. A potential employer wants to read a resume and envision what you can do for them, not the other way around.
Even if you’re a perfect candidate, the self-serving nature of an objective statement can leave a bad first impression.
3. They’re Old-Fashioned
Because the objective statement is an older resume trend, using one could unintentionally date you. The reader might assume that your skills and experience are also not current, or worse, those one or two lines could open you up to age discrimination. At best, it could signal that you haven’t revamped your resume in a while, giving the impression that you didn’t put much effort into your application.
None of these cues are helpful in your quest to get hired, so it’s better for everyone if you say goodbye to your resume objective once and for all.
3 Things That Can Replace a Resume Objective
Hiring managers will spend the bulk of their time scanning the top third of your resume, so it’s important to start with something compelling and eye-catching. The good news is that there are a few more modern and effective alternatives to the resume objective that you can consider.
1. A Summary Statement
One of the questions I get most often from my clients is how an objective statement differs from a summary statement.
Whereas an objective statement tells the reader what you hope to get, the summary statement tells them who you are and what you can do. In other words, instead of leading with what you hope to gain, use this space to highlight accomplishments, relevant skills, experience, expertise, and other credentials that demonstrate your value as a candidate. Think of it as an elevator pitch to kick off your resume.
Here’s an example to highlight how you can turn a candidate-focused objective statement into a summary that’ll leave the reader excited about what you bring to the table and eager to hear more.
If your objective statement was: Seeking a position teaching middle school history, geography or social studies.
Then your summary statement might be: Accomplished and enthusiastic teacher with 8+ years of experience in elementary and middle schools. Versatile background includes teaching history, geography, English, and social studies while supporting student growth and development using age-appropriate learning tools. Calm and flexible attitude creates an atmosphere that encourages student learning, innovation, and imagination. Recognized for fostering inclusive classrooms where all students are welcomed and supported.
2. A Skills Table
Consider using a combination resume format and starting off with a skills table. This can be a really useful tool in your resume because you can include keywords or phrases that are specific to the job description, company, or industry and draw the reader’s attention to them. It’s also a great opportunity to highlight your talents and expertise right off the bat.
If you use a skills table, it’s best practice to include hard skills that can be quantified and objectively demonstrated, as opposed to soft skills.
Using the example of our teacher above, a skills table placed directly below their name and contact info might look something like this:
The skills table approach makes it easy to quickly change or include relevant keywords on your resume without necessarily reworking full sentences in your experience section, giving you a quick way to tailor your resume for different positions.
Remember that you can also choose to use both a summary and a skills table if you think that’s the best way to sell yourself as a candidate.
3. Nothing at All
There’s no rule that says you must have some sort of intro statement or section on your resume. If your professional history is pretty straightforward and makes you a clear fit for the role you’re applying for, you could easily choose to dive right into your work experience the way chronological resumes often do.
At the end of the day, you have a finite amount of space on your resume, and you want everything you include to serve a purpose. Thankfully there are a few different ways you can do justice to your skills and expertise. So ditch the objective statement and go with something that will actually help you reach your objective and land that job!
Photo of Person sitting at a coffee shop in a suit working on a laptop courtesy of Caiaimage/Paul Bradbury/Getty Images.
Angela is an HR executive with a background that includes a balance of corporate talent acquisition and talent management. That means she's done everything from recruiting to training and development, labor relations, and coaching managers and executives. And now she's excited to use those skills to help clients identify their goals, articulate their talents and accomplishments, plan their next professional steps, and give them the confidence to be bold and take a risk. She's spoken at the University of Massachusetts, Miami Dade College, and Cornell University, and can be found writing for The Muse, Forbes, and Mashable. Angela holds an MBA from the University of Massachusetts.More from this Author