This is one of the more commonly asked questions I receive. Honestly, it is a sticky question because even career counselors can’t agree on this one. I would say half of the career counselors I know think you should use an objective statement while the other half says no- so, I offer the following information to you more as a guide for making your own decision for your resume.
To begin, a general rule that I follow is this: If you are new to a profession (2 years or less experience) then an objective statement is something you should consider. If you are a more seasoned professional in your field, then an objective statement is not appropriate for you- your resume should contain a “Summary of Skills” type section.
The problem with many objective statements, and consequently the central issue as to why this is a debated topic, is that most objectives are bland- they don’t really say anything about the applicant. Most objective statements sound similar to:
“To use my knowledge and education to gain a rewarding position in business.”
Ok…wake up- I know it was boring, but you have the rest of this blog entry to read…
Employers became so accustomed to reading these very generic objective statements that they slowly began to skip over them- and given that the average resume is reviewed for only seconds, do you really want to waste the top most part of your resume for a statement that will be over looked? I didn’t think so…
So, what are your options? Well, I would argue that you have a couple of options and they are:
1. Use an objective statement- but make it well written and focused- use this statement as an opportunity to plug in some key words and to give the hiring manager a compelling reason to continue to read further. A well written objective will serve you better than no objective. Here is an example of a well written objective:
“Seeking a position as a valued member of your Human Resources department that leverages my achievements, skills, energy and talent for identifying superior job candidates.”
Concise, to the point and the hiring manager will know right away if this is someone to consider.
2. Choose to use a “Summary of Skills” or “Core Competency” or “Profile” section of your resume instead of the objective. These sections are more common for professionals with 2+ years of experience in their field, but if you are making a career transition and have many transferable skills- it would be appropriate to use one of these sections.
3. Choose to leave the objective statement out altogether- this is an option- if you opt to leave it out, then you need to focus on making that first section of your resume compelling.
Regardless of whether you choose to use an objective or summary of skills etc. it is critical to not get caught in the trap of writing this once and using it for every job you apply to. Remember, you need to submit a resume and cover letter that is specific to each job you apply to- using their lingo, key words etc. Resumes are no longer one size fits all.