Does a Resume Need an Objective?

By Biron Clark



Biron Clark

Biron Clark

Writer & Career Coach

Is a resume objective a relic of the past, or could it be the key ingredient your resume needs? In the ever-evolving job market, the usefulness of a resume objective is a topic of much debate. But the key question remains: does a resume need an objective?

While some view it as outdated, others see it as a vital tool to make their application stand out. In this article, we’ll explore both sides of the coin, dissecting the pros and cons of including an objective statement on your resume. 

From when it might give you an edge in your job hunt to scenarios where it could detract from your overall presentation, we’ll delve into every aspect to guide you in making the most informed decision for your career.

What is a Resume Objective?

A resume objective is a concise statement at the top of your resume, articulating your career goals and how they align with the employer’s objectives. The effectiveness of a resume objective statement lies in its ability to communicate your ambitions succinctly. 

This brief introduction, usually two to three sentences, is tailored to the specific job you’re applying for. 

It is a snapshot of your professional ambitions, showcasing your skills and emphasizing what you can contribute to the role.

For example, a recent graduate might write, “Recent B.A. in Marketing looking to leverage analytical and creative skills in a dynamic marketing role, aiming to contribute innovative marketing strategies to XYZ Corp.” 

Alternatively, someone seeking a career change could say, “Experienced project manager transitioning to the nonprofit sector, seeking to utilize extensive leadership and organizational skills to make a meaningful impact at Charity ABC.”

Resume Summary Vs. Resume Objective

While both a resume summary and an objective sit at the top of your resume, they serve different purposes and cater to varying career stages.

A resume summary is a brief statement that highlights your professional achievements and skills. It is ideal for those with substantial work experience, as it allows them to showcase their career trajectory and significant accomplishments. 

For instance, a seasoned marketing professional might have a summary like, “Marketing Director with over 15 years of experience in the technology sector, specializing in digital marketing, brand strategy, and team leadership. Proven track record of growing startup businesses and leading successful marketing campaigns.”

On the other hand, a resume objective focuses more on your career goals and what you aim to achieve in the role you’re applying for. It’s particularly useful for those new to the workforce, transitioning careers, or targeting a specific position. 

An example could be a recent graduate: “Recent graduate with a B.S. in Computer Science seeking a software development position, aiming to apply coding skills and innovative thinking to contribute to the success of TechCorp.”

This comparison shows how a resume summary is centered around past professional experiences, while a resume objective is more about your future aspirations and how they align with the employer’s needs.

Understanding the distinction between a resume summary and a resume objective statement is crucial for job seekers to market themselves effectively.

Do You Need an Objective on a Resume?

The straightforward answer to whether you need an objective on your resume is that it depends. In the modern job market, the prevalence of resume objectives has diminished, as many candidates and employers prefer a more concise approach to resume writing. However, this doesn’t render the objective statement obsolete.

In certain situations, including an objective can be particularly advantageous. For instance, if you are a recent graduate with limited work experience, a well-crafted objective can clarify your career goals and demonstrate your eagerness to learn and grow within a specific field. 

Similarly, if you are transitioning to a new industry or career path, an objective can help frame your transferable skills in a way that aligns with your new direction.

While it’s true that many employers may skip over an objective in favor of more substantial content like your employment history or skills, a thoughtfully written objective can still serve as a valuable tool for conveying your intentions and enthusiasm for the position, especially in cases where your experience doesn’t immediately align with the job you’re applying for.

So, consider your unique situation before deciding whether to include a resume objective. Reflect on how an objective might add to or detract from your resume and whether it aligns with your overall job application strategy.

When Should You Include an Objective on a Resume?

Deciding whether to include an objective on your resume can depend on your career stage and goals. While not always necessary, there are specific scenarios where an objective can be particularly beneficial:

1. Starting Your Career

For those just entering the workforce, such as recent graduates, an objective can help clarify your career direction when you lack extensive professional experience. 

For example:

A fresh graduate could use an objective like, “Aspiring digital marketer, recently graduated with honors in Marketing, seeking to apply my knowledge and passion for digital platforms in a challenging role at a forward-thinking advertising agency.”

2. Switching Careers

If you’re transitioning to a new industry or career path, an objective can highlight your transferable skills and demonstrate your commitment to this new direction. 

For example:

An individual changing careers might say, “Dedicated educator transitioning to corporate training, eager to leverage extensive experience in curriculum development and instructional design to enhance employee training programs at XYZ Corporation.”

3. Targeting a Specific Role

When applying for a particular position, a resume objective allows you to tailor your application to the job, showing the employer why you’re a perfect fit. 

For instance:

“Customer service professional with 5+ years in retail management, seeking to bring my track record of improving customer satisfaction and team productivity to the Store Manager position at ABC Retail.”

In each of these examples, the objective statement serves a specific purpose: it bridges gaps in experience, illustrates career shifts, and targets specific roles, providing context to your application that might not be immediately apparent from your employment history alone.

How to Write a Good Objective for Your Resume

Crafting a compelling resume objective is about balancing being specific to the job you’re applying for and showcasing your unique strengths.

Here are some tips to guide you:

  • Be Specific: Tailor your objective to each job you apply for. Highlight how your skills and experiences align with the job description and the company’s goals.
  • Focus on Value: Emphasize what you can bring to the company. Rather than just stating what you want from the job, mention how your skills can contribute to the company’s success.
  • Keep It Concise: An effective objective is brief and concise. Limit it to two or three sentences, making every word count.
  • Show Enthusiasm: Convey your excitement about the opportunity. A touch of genuine enthusiasm can make your objective stand out.
  • Use Keywords: Incorporate industry-specific keywords from the job listing. This can help your resume pass automated applicant tracking systems (ATS).

For instance, a well-written objective for a sales position might read: “Seasoned sales professional with a track record of exceeding targets, seeking to leverage proven negotiation and relationship-building skills to drive revenue growth at XYZ Inc.”

Remember, your objective is your resume’s opening statement and sets the tone for the rest of your document. It’s your first opportunity to make a strong impression, so make it count!

When You Do Not Need an Objective on a Resume

Sometimes, including an objective on your resume may not be necessary. In certain situations, the space it occupies could be better utilized for other content that more effectively showcases your qualifications and experiences.

  • Experienced Professionals: If you have several years of experience in your field, your career trajectory and accomplishments speak for themselves. For instance, a seasoned marketing professional with a decade of expertise might skip the objective and instead use that space for a detailed “Professional Experience” section.
  • Clear Career Path: An objective statement might be redundant if your resume clearly shows a consistent and specific career path. For example, a resume with consecutive roles in IT project management over several years indicates the candidate’s field and career direction.
  • Limited Space: For resumes that need to be concise, like a one-page format often preferred in industries like tech or finance, prioritizing experience and skills over an objective can be more impactful. A software engineer with a wealth of programming languages and project experience would benefit more from detailing these aspects.
  • Generic Objectives: If the objective you are considering is generic or doesn’t add significant value to your profile, it’s better to leave it off. A vague statement like, “Looking for a challenging role where I can grow professionally,” doesn’t offer unique insights into your goals or abilities.

What Should You Put Instead of Objective on Your Resume?

Now that we have explored the role and potential benefits of a resume objective, it’s also worth considering other impactful elements you could include in your resume. One effective alternative is a brief career summary paragraph.

For instance:

“Manufacturing Engineer with 10 years of bio-pharmaceutical experience, proficient in injection molding, medical device design, research & development, and product commercialization.”

This type of career summary gives a quick snapshot of your professional background and areas of expertise, highlighting your value to prospective employers.

Including such a summary can be particularly useful for those with a substantial professional background, as it allows for a broader showcase of experience and skills. This approach can also be beneficial for tailoring your resume to pass through automated systems, enhancing your chances of standing out.

You might also consider starting with a Skills section, an Education section (especially if you’re a recent graduate), or going straight into your Employment History. Each section offers a way to effectively present your qualifications and experiences, depending on your career stage and the job you’re applying for.

Remember, choosing between a resume objective, a career summary, or another introductory section depends on your career path and the message you want to convey to potential employers. It’s all about finding the right way to introduce your unique professional story.

Outdated Sections to Leave Off Your Resume

While we’re here, there are a couple of things you should leave off your resume.

First, don’t put references directly on your resume. Make employers ask you for references, and ideally – wait until you’ve spoken with them and know they’re interested. Offering references before even talking to an employer signals that you’re either desperate to find a job or old-fashioned/outdated. Or both.

Next, leave off hobbies and interests unrelated to your work and personal information like height, weight, etc.

None of these will help you land the interview.

And unless you’re in the EU, don’t put a photo on your resume, either. I know this is customary in many countries in the EU, but if you’re a job seeker in North America, your resume shouldn’t have a photo of you. Let hiring managers go to your LinkedIn profile if they want to see a photo.

Ready to elevate your resume to the next level? Join us at CareerSidekick to build a standout resume that captures your unique professional story.

Biron Clark

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7 thoughts on “Does a Resume Need an Objective?”

  1. Well, I have to disagree a bit. If I’ve been unemployed for a while and need to get a job quick, sure I play by the “make your resume look like everyone else’s” rules. However, my “just browsing, thanks,” resume has four very specific objectives at the top of page one that describe exactly what types of companies and jobs I’m looking for and what types I don’t want to hear about. It saves me a LOT of casual calls from the churn and burn recruiters and outfits in town.

  2. I am a college student looking for a summer internship. I don’t have a career summary- should I be including an objective?

    • You do have a professional summary. You’re a current student specializing in __ and __, skilled in __ and looking for an internship to do __.

      (So yes, it can be partly an objective, but still include some pieces from a summary too. Even students can write a summary).

  3. Hi. Im 62 and been a teaches aide for past 15 yrs. One semester of college major bi-lingual education but why mention .. it was only one semester?? Im so glad I came upon your site. its rather refreshing that your site is on the money shall we say. Im a touchy, feely learner. Yes DO write a resume that your suggesting. That would be helpful. Is that asking too much. maybe! ok. For the first time in my life after 15 yrs. experience with special education both in elementary and High School I am finally working on turning in a “RESUME”!. Dont say anything or think anythingOK? :0 Actually ty Have a great day!

  4. Hi Biron,

    Your posts are really meaningful and unearthing precious tips for jobseekers.

    In regard to this article, I totally agree with your suggestion.
    I had recently my resume redone by professional resume writers and, following their experience, adding that objective section only gets to put room off from your resume presentation.
    In addition to this, it’s useless: since I have learned that the right concern it’s not about you, but about the employer and what’s in it for the recipient of your resume.

  5. I think having an objective can still be helpful too. just don’t make it like everyone else’s generic objective.

  6. I think having an objective can still be helpful if you just take out the generic stuff that this article talks about.. stuff like “i want to be offered a job”.

    But if you put non-obvious stuff, it’s still helpful to have.

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