A resume objective statement is one of two types of introductory statements often included at the top of a resume. It is the lesser-used option these days, second to a summary statement (more about summary statements later), due to its many notable pitfalls. However, at the right place and time, the once-popular objective statement still have their purpose in the resume world.
What is a Resume Objective Statement?
A resume objective statement introduces your resume to the hiring manager. As the name suggests, it answers the question, “What is this resume trying to accomplish?” It usually states the position for which you are applying and may include your career goals.
Traditionally, a resume objective statement section might look something like this:
Resume Objective: To obtain an entry-level marketing position at a Fortune 500 company.
However, today’s resume objective statement not only states the applicant’s intention, but aims to “sell” the hiring manager on the job seeker by highlighting their skills and career goals. It should be short, to-the-point, and customized for each resume.
Is a Resume Objective Necessary?
If you’ve been around the job search block a few times, you might be surprised to hear that resume objective statements are no longer a resume standard. Unless explicitly stated in the job listing, hiring managers no longer expect an objective statement at the top of your resume.
In fact, these days, resume objectives are rarely recommended by career experts and professionals.
Here are a couple of reasons the traditional resume objective has fallen out of favor in recent years:
Resume objective statements are a little bit selfish
As mentioned above, a resume objective tells the hiring manager what you want professionally, not what you can do for them and their company. It’s great to showcase your career ambition, but companies will typically be more concerned with their own best interests.
Generic resume objectives leave hiring managers with questions
Your intentions and professional goals don’t explain to the hiring manager why you’re the best person for the job. Objective statements lack the broader context of a summary statement, often missing the “here’s what I can do for you” explanation.
Resume Objective vs. Resume Summary Statement
As resume introductory statements go, the resume objective is thought to be weaker and less useful than the modern resume summary statement.
One major difference between the two is that the summary statement highlights hard skills and accomplishments in active voice rather than passive voice, making the job seeker sound more capable and assertive. For example, “I achieved 25% sales growth” is active voice while, “25% sales growth was achieved” is passive voice.
Overall, a resume summary statement is more assertive in tone. It uses quantitative results to offer the hiring manager proof about the things the job seeker has accomplished and will continue to accomplish if hired.
In short, the summary statement means business.
Here are a few examples of traditional objective statements compared to resume summary statements:
- Traditional Objective Statement: “To obtain a position in customer service”
- Modern Summary statement: “Customer Service Representative with 8 years of experience working with customer accounts and resolving product and service issues. Maintained a 90% customer satisfaction rating.”
- Traditional Objective Statement: “To get a job as an Account Supervisor”
- Modern Summary Statement: “Sales and Marketing Manager with 10+ years of commercial sales and marketing experience. Exceeded all sales goals by 15% or more between 2012 and 2017.”
- Traditional Objective Statement: “To work as a Supply Chain Manager in the logistics industry”
- Modern Summary Statement: “Supply Chain Analyst and self-starter with a track record of maintaining and enhancing up to 15 client relationships at one time and identifying problem service areas.”
When to Use an Objective Statement
The traditional objective statement as seen above has become obsolete. Now, an impactful objective statement will blur the lines between the traditional resume objective and a resume summary statement.
While an objective statement should rarely be used, there are circumstances in which an it can make a positive addition to a resume.
For example, objective statements can be useful when tailoring your resume for the applicant tracking systems (ATS) used by most recruiters. Objective statements present a natural opportunity to state the exact job you’re applying for on your resume. Having the exact job title on your resume is important in an ATS resume as it is likely one of the first resume keyword searches a recruiter will do in the ATS.
A strong objective statement can also be effective and helpful for job seekers who are radically shifting careers or industries. In these cases, a strong objective statement can be used to explain how the job seeker plans to transfer the skills they’ve developed in their past job or industry into the new job or industry.
How to Write an Objective for a Resume
If a resume objective statement is right for your job search, these three tips can help you avoid common mistakes:
- Keep it short. This is not a place to add fluff! Just a few productive sentences is all you need. Make sure every word is deliberate and necessary.
- Be clear and detailed about the job you want. State the job you are applying for and describe your goals only as they pertain to the job and industry for which you’re applying.
- Explain what you can do for them. Take your goals a step farther by explaining how they match up with the needs of the company, using the job posting for reference. This step sets a strong resume objective apart from a weak one.
If neither type of introductory statement feels right, you don’t need to include one to build a strong resume. If you do include one, remember that while a resume objective statement can be useful for job seekers changing careers or switching industries, in most cases, a resume summary statement will be the best fit.
Resume Objective Examples
These antiquated traditional resume objective examples, which appeared on real resumes, are weak and unfocused:
- To obtain a position where my knowledge and experience can be utilized as well as enhanced.
- Seeking new opportunities in the corporate arena and open to contract positions.
- Accounting professional seeking employment opportunity.
- Seasoned professional with a proven track record of meeting business objectives seeking a career.
- Motivated self-starter with strong organizational abilities seeking corporate opportunities.
Here’s how they could be made better:
- To obtain the position of Junior Account Coordinator where I can use the strong sales and communication skills I’ve gained in my 5 years of retail sales to close and maintain deals.
- Seeking a full-time (or contract) position as an SEO copywriter. I’m hoping to use my writing skills and SEO skills gained through online courses over the last six months to grow organic search traffic.
- Accounting professional with over 10 years experience looking to transfer my skills to the finance world. My proven mathematical and money management skills make me an ideal fit for the Finance Assistant position.
- With a reputation for meeting business objectives and aiding in data-driven decisions, I’m looking to shift my skills as an IT administrator into a data scientist role.
- Motivated self-starter with 3 years experience as an office manager looking to bring strong organizational skills to the Executive Assistant position.
Here are a few more strong resume objective examples:
- In my 7 years as a Process Integration Engineer, I have acquired knowledge on process simulation, optimization and integration, inherently safer design principles, PFD and P&ID skills. In an effort to enhance my knowledge and further my career, I’d like to bring these skills to the Supply Chain Manager position.
- With a demonstrated history in business administration, I’m looking for a position that will benefit from my business experience while promoting my interest in education. The Experienced Teaching Assistant for Business Administration position is the perfect fit.
- Seeking employment in a professional environment where I can diversify and improve upon the skills gained during my ten years as an Account Manager. As the Director of Corporate sales, I would focus on enhancing the company’s productivity and reputation while improving my own.
- Human Resources Manager looking for exciting new challenges. My goal at this point in my career is to capitalize upon new opportunities for career development within an organization that values hard work, integrity, and results. I look forward to hearing if I’m a good fit for the Head of Operations position.