Why Objectives Are Obsolete

There was a time when resumes were considered complete and well put together if they included:

  • Contact information
  • An objective statement
  • A listing of prior jobs
  • Candidate’s education

You can usually spot job seekers who believe these old-school resumes still work because they use the phrase “references available upon request” at the end.

In the last 20 years as the “references available upon request” line has been dismissed as being irrelevant, many job seekers have missed the fact that objective statements are also obsolete.

Objective Statements Can Hurt the Job Seeker

One recruiter reveals that “putting an objective on your resume will do more damage than good as it immediately does one of two things in the eyes of a recruiter such as myself: It either: a) makes us mad or b) puts us to sleep.”

Alison Green, at U.S. News & World Report, offered clear-cut reasons for avoiding objectives: “I’ve never seen an objective that made me more interested in hiring a candidate, and I’ve seen plenty that actually hurt a candidate’s chances. At best they’re neutral, so why risk it?”

Another career expert, Arnie Fertig, writing in U.S. News & World Report in January 2013, summed up the issue very well: “…back in the “old days” resumes began with a now obsolete objective statement. The underlying message was: ‘Here’s what I’m looking for. If this is what you offer, give me a call.’..these days, any resume reader assumes that their job is your objective.”

Marc Cenedella, the founder of TheLadders, writes – “Resume objective statements were all about what you wanted, not about what you could do for a prospective employer. And that is precisely why your old-fashioned, objective-topped resume will make many professional resume writers shudder. Professional resume writers have replaced these messages with “Executive Summary” sections that sum up what skills the applicant brings the employer.”

Is There Another Side of the Coin?

Here’s an example of the reasoning some still have for retaining the objective: “A resume objective statement is a short and simple statement that is meant to list your aspiration and goals in relation to working at the company you’re applying to. Basically, it is the bait that attracts attention to your resume and determines whether an employer will continue to read your resume or toss it in the trash.” (Read more on the Simply Hired Blog.)

The truth is that an objective, as it was written even 15 years ago, isn’t “bait” for today’s hiring managers.

What’s Taken the Place of Objective Statements in Today’s Resume?

An MSN Careers writer offers the following: “The truth is that the objective—at least in the traditional sense—is dead. Ready to take its well-worn place is something far more important: a stark assessment of who you are through the eyes of your potential employer.”

That “far more important” thing—whether it is called an “Executive Summary,” a “Professional Profile” or an “Executive Profile”—is what savvy job seekers have had on their resumes for over a decade.

A profile can, in a short paragraph, restate the key points of your career, and more importantly, should be used to draw attention to your achievements, accomplishments, and accolades as they relate to the targeted position. Another advantage of a profile is that it allows the job seeker to frame who they are. For example:

“Successful sales manager with an MBA and a decade of outside sales experience…”

“IT Director with significant success in the pharmaceutical industry as evidenced by…”

Most Experts Suggest Avoiding Objective Statements

A writer at Forbes declares, “Don’t worry about an objective—employers will skip over this, or worse, will screen your resume out based on an objective that is not a perfect match for the job they are hiring for. Instead, let your experience, skills, and results-driven descriptions make the case for you.” (Full article here.)

Forget about the objective statement, and instead utilize the space for a Professional Profile that is targeted to the position and includes relevant accomplishments.

Feeling daunted at having to create a cover letter, resume, or LinkedIn profile? Our certified writers excel in 40+ industries and can provide cover letters and resumes that will get you the interview.

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