Ditch that objective

Why leading with an "objective'" is the wrong way to start your resume.

It seems that generations of job candidates were taught to start every resume with an "objective." You've seen them. They're concise statements -- typically written in the first person -- that are located right at the tip top of your resume. They pointedly note what you're out to do and why you're a good fit for a position. Objectives generally have words like: seeking, finding, applying, securing.

Well, the "objective" is a giant waste of time for you and your resume. 

Here's why:

  1. Your "objective" is already known by the HR recruiter, search and screen committee, or hiring manager. Your submitted resume shows you're applying, therefore, your objective is quite clear. It seems unnecessary to give it such a valuable spot on your resume. 
  2. Your cover letter is a better "objective" than what's in the top line of your resume. Almost every open position requires a cover letter (and if they don't, I have concerns!). Your cover letter is where you elaborate on your goals and how you can best fit and assist the organization. This is where to spend your time and effort -- not crammed into 1-2 lines on the top of your resume.
  3. Your "objective" isn't helping your resume pass a 30-ish second rule. Generally speaking, your resume will be reviewed in a 30-45 second screening, sometimes less. A reader will start at the top and look for the key skills, qualifications, and experiences to put you into an "Yes" pile. (Do you have the minimum years required? The required training, certification, education?) That top 1/3 or "above the fold" section of your resume is important real estate in a screening. That's where you list all of the key qualifications about your candidacy. Everything in that top section should work for you -- if it's not value-added, toss it out. 
  4. Your resume has a limited amount of real estate so use it all to your advantage. Beyond the "30-ish second rule" and using the top 1/3 of your resume effectively, you need to present a "360 degree view" of your experience including important credentials, skills, and training that make you a well-rounded candidate. For most of my mid-level clients, I advise a 2 page resume. That's not really a lot of space and we can't cram everything in it -- it's important to use resume real estate to your advantage, if it's not helping you showcase your overall candidacy, drop it. 

Cutting out your resume's "objective" may seem like an unfairly ruthless edit (and it is!), but a strong resume has to make a case for your experience and candidacy. Be confident in what you present and why you present it. I think you'll find a higher quality, more strategic final product!

Disagree with me? I'd love to hear your feedback.