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Resume Objective Statements Are So 10 Years Ago

An objective statement can get in the way of what an employer wants to see: Your value to them.

An objective statement can get in the way of what an employer wants to see: Your value to them.

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It’s time to face the music: Objective statements are outdated  and should be killed.

That’s right, nuke the objective statement into oblivion. Why?

There are a few key reasons, but for starters the opening of your resume is not about your long-term goals, it’s about what you can do for an employer. Furthermore, the location of the objective statement on a resume is such a valuable area for selling yourself that wasting it on lofty ideas of your career wastes hiring managers’ time, and shifts the focus away from your accomplishments. Make it the catchy hook for what follows.

An  objective statement is designed to be a a vague description of your overall career objective and often becomes overly focused on the job-specific job applications, says career author Rebecca Metschke who wrote the book The Interview Edge. From a recent blog post on getting rid of the objective statement, she says the following:

A broad objective statement is one that’s very general and consequently doesn’t say anything. It accomplishes only one thing: it takes up up space. Ironically, this is the most valuable real estate on your resume (i.e. To secure a challenging position in marketing communications with a dynamic company….).

Potentially just as damaging is the opposite…a narrow objective statement. This one is too specific. One important unintended consequence is that it can exclude you from consideration for other jobs for which you might be well qualified. Because you painted yourself into a box with your opening blurb, your paper gets tossed to the side.

Finally, there’s the issue of focus. By its very nature, the objective statement is pretty much all about you. The problem with that? The hiring manager isn’t considering your candidacy and your potential fit for the position in terms of what’s in it for you. He’s not concerned with your objective; he’s thinking about his, which is to fill the position.

For the large majority of resumes, the opening section needs to be a branding statement, said Nimish Thakkar a career coach and resume writer, in the article “Top Five Resume Myths Exposed,” on TheLadders Career Advice. Thakkar gives a concrete example:

Of the 5,000+ resumes I have written, I may have used an objective for maybe a handful of candidates. In place of objectives, I often use what many experts call “branding statements” or “headers.” The concept can be explained with the help of an example. In the case of a clinical researcher, for example, a generic objective would be as follows:

Seeking a mutually beneficial position that will make use of my 10+ years experience in clinical research.

An improvement would be:

Worked with top five pharmaceutical companies. Leveraged clinical expertise to manage three blockbuster, multi-billion dollar molecules from Phase I to Market.

The generic example does almost nothing to position the candidate but the refined version, in addition to serving as an objective, brings out three to four prominent strengths and an overall value proposition.

Remember, you should think about the beginning of your resume like the beginning of a speech, a good movie or novel: You have to give the reader a hook — and your branding statement is that hook.

[Reflection image by Rojer via Flickr, CC3.0]

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