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Should You Use a Resume Objective?

When looking for job search advice, job seekers often come across conflicting recommendations—including whether or not to use a resume objective. No two job searches are alike, so there may not be any truly one-size-fits-all advice for job seekers. But the practice of using a resume objective is quickly falling out of favor, for many reasons.

Most resume objectives are bland statements such as “Objective: Obtain a leadership position at ABC Company where I can utilize my management, training, and program development skills.” This is the part of the resume most likely to be full of banality and buzzwords. Staffing agency Robert Half has published a useful list of resume buzzwords to avoid, including the verbs “optimize,” “leverage,” and “utilize.” A resume should be as clear and concise as possible; that means simple, jargon-free language.

There are two main ideas behind the traditional resume objective. One is that, ostensibly, it demonstrates to a potential employer that you are familiar with the field. The other is that you can tailor your resume to a particular job just by changing up the objective.

In reality, a generic sentence or two is simply not enough to demonstrate experience or expertise. Further, employers are not typically concerned with an applicant’s career goals. They are hiring because their business has a need, and they want an applicant who can fill that need.

Changing the phrasing of a resume objective statement is not sufficient in the age of applicant tracking systems, which most employers now use. To tailor your resume to a particular job, you need to do more: focus on using the right keywords, and look at your resume as a whole.

Even if you are applying to a number of similar jobs all in the same industry, you should consider tailoring your resume to each individual job using resume keywords. Applicant tracking systems do not necessarily recognize synonyms, so the specific job posting is a good reference for how you should word things on your resume. The New York State Department of Labor has published a list of common resume keywords in a variety of industries, from manufacturing to finance. This list is a useful reference to look at when writing (or revising) your resume.

Entering your resume and the job description on Jobscan will give you an instant analysis of the keywords you should focus on, and changes you can make to your resume so that it is optimally targeted for the job.

By carefully considering the keywords and phrasing you use throughout your resume, rather than trying to cram whatever seems relevant to the job into a brief resume objective statement, you are far more likely to create a cohesive, compelling resume that will make it through the applicant tracking system. Skipping the resume objective will free up valuable space on your resume (white space on a resume is a good thing!) and help you steer clear of buzzwords.

One exception to this advice is for people who are trying to change careers. In this case, a brief statement that conveys how their experience relates to their chosen new field is recommended. This summary statement is not exactly akin to a resume objective, because it covers an applicant’s previous concrete accomplishments or training rather than general future goals.

See also:

8 Things You Need To Know About Resume Keywords

What Not to Include on a Professional Resume

8 Things You Need To Know About Applicant Tracking Systems

Using Resume Templates When Changing Careers

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