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An Overview of Resume Objectives

Which Works Best? Job Objective?
Or a Career Summary?

Resume objectives have been a standard on resumes for decades. But is a job objective or a career summary the better way to go?

The right resume keywords will bring your resume to LIFE

What are your resume objectives?

Almost everyone who is starting out to write their resume knows about using an objective at the top. It's the standard, right?

You write something like "To find a job as a dedicated primary school teacher in a public school". Sounds good, right? Communicates exactly what you want to the future employer, doesn't it?

The answer to the questions posed above, is "Sure, BUT..." And that's a big but! Because, here's the thing... the purpose of objectives on a resume isn't really to communicate what you want or hope to accomplish...

It's to communicate how you can benefit the employer. Because ultimately, employers don't give a hoot about your career development! All they really care about is what you can do for them.

So, while – on the surface – your resume is a summary of you and your experience, its ultimate purpose is to convince the employer that they'd be fools not to at least consider hiring you, because of what you could do for them.

So Should You Use Resume Objectives or Not?

A job objective should clearly show your value to the employer

Ask anyone who does not believe in using a job objective why, and he or she will tell you it's because objectives are so often self-serving (as illustrated above). Just because they say what you want, doesn't mean they say how this is relevant to the employer or why an employer should care.

I can't emphasize it enough... the company that hires you is more interested in the potential benefits you'll bring to the organization, than they are in how they can help you achieve your goals.

Another problem is that narrowly stated resume objectives can be limiting. The company may not even consider you for a position you'd love if you have clearly stated in your objective that you're only interested in one type of job.

Finally, most job objectives are so vague as to be meaningless. Why waste valuable resume real estate with something that will not help (and may harm) your quest towards obtaining the coveted interview?

On the Other Hand...

Career summary might be a better way to go?

There are many resume writing experts who passionately believe in using resume objectives. They cite the fact that employers want to be able to tell – in just a few seconds – what job you want to do for the company and what skills you bring to the table.

There is also a school of thought that says the lack of a written resume objective translates into a job applicant who doesn't really know what he or she wants.

Also, if you have a long or diverse job history, resume objectives can help sharpen the focus of your resume. This is also true if you are trying to switch to a career that is not strongly supported by your experience.

If you do decide to use a resume objective, though, you must make sure that it is not self-serving or too limiting, and that it is uniquely stated. Make it specific and work to reflect the employer's perspective, not your own. Demonstrate the value you'll bring to the organization.

See some objective examples that work well

Another Option Is the Career Summary

Your best choice in my opinion is the Career Summary of Qualifications

An alternative to using resume objectives is to use what is called a career summary, summary of qualifications or career profile. There may be other names used as well, but the bottom line is this...

Instead of stating an objective, which may or may not be meaningful to the employer, you use the space at the top of your resume to highlight your best skills and accomplishments in a way that will make it immediately obvious to the hiring manager what you can do for the company.

I think the career summary is a terrific way to communicate your value. It's an acceptable way to "brag" a little, as long as you're completely truthful. Whenever I write resumes for people, this is always the option I use, and they almost always get the interview! Smile

Learn More About Working with Objectives on the Resume

Get tips and advice on best practices for using resume objectivesSee resume objective examples that actually work
View samples that don't get the job doneLearn more about how to write a career summary of your qualifications

In the end, whether or not to use resume objectives or go with a more modern career summary is a highly personalized decision. But if you do decide to use a job objective, keep in mind that employers are mainly interested in what you can do for them. So be sure that your objective is employer-oriented and results-focused. Do this well, and you'll be on your way to your next interview!

Learn More About Writing a Resume

Click to learn how to write a cover letter that makes YOU look like the star you are!

If you have resume questions, Ask the Expert has answers...

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