How to write a resume objective statement
Traditional resume objective statements are outdated and unhelpful.
Brittany King, who worked as a talent acquisition and HR consultant for more than a decade, says this: “I can say with confidence that objective statements are obsolete. I have never recommended a candidate to a hiring manager or hired a candidate because they had an outstanding objective statement. Experience beats objective statements every time.”
There are a number of reasons objective statements have been replaced by resume summaries, “the biggest one being that they all sounded the same and ended with ‘to work for an organization where I can continue to learn and grow,’” career and interview coach Michele Mavi says. Another reason is that traditionally, objective statements focus on the candidate’s wants and needs, but when a hiring manager or recruiter is reading applications, they’re reading with the company’s wants and needs in mind first. Ultimately, they want to know what the employee can offer the business; they’re looking for results-oriented candidates.
What you should use instead of an objective statement?
If you omit an objective statement (which usually appears at or near the top of your resume) as we’re recommending, you don’t have to fill that space with something else. You can simply skip it.
However, you may benefit from including a resume summary, which can differentiate you as a candidate, especially if you think you’re under-qualified or equally as qualified as your competition. A summary, Mavi says, “allows candidates to really sell themselves and showcase their value to a potential employer.”
Instead of simply stating what you hope the end goal to be (i.e., to get a job), summarize what makes you uniquely qualified for the position and identify how your skills and goals align with the company’s goals.
Should you include an objective statement if you’re changing careers?
Not really. You should, however, include a resume summary that shows you’re on the career change path and that you have transferable skills.
Mavi says those who are changing careers “should definitely include an executive summary that highlights their desire to pivot. The idea is to show that what they have done in the past has equipped them with the same skills needed to be successful in this new direction they are taking (even if additional schooling may be required).”
But more than just showing your employer that you’re pivoting careers, you should demonstrate that this is a carefully planned change.
“When making a transition it’s also important to show that it’s a logical one. For example, if you suddenly became passionate about statistics through the heavy analysis you were doing at work as a marketing manager, you can open your summary by explaining the connection, then offering the additional information that shows why it makes sense.”
She provides this example:
Experienced marketing manager skilled in analytics looking to pivot to a career as a data analyst. Extensive experience analyzing results from high-volume digital marketing campaigns, familiarity with analytics software platforms, and able to effectively communicate results to stakeholders.
How to turn your objective statement into something more helpful
“All great statements must be results-focused,” Mavi says. “The most common mistake is to just use the space to reiterate what is in your work history section but in paragraph form. You really need to be able to show value. Make sure it's results driven: What are you known for? Are you creating efficiencies, increasing sales, or creating positive change? The bottom line is that your resume (including the summary) isn't about detailing what you do, but about showcasing the results you achieve.”
Old - resume objective
Foreign rights agent with experience working across Vietnam, Thailand, and Malaysia, looking for a role where I can expand my roster of writers.
New - resume summary
Foreign rights agent with extensive experience working with publishers and translators in Vietnam, Thailand, and Malaysia. In three years, I placed two dozen books across four countries. I have written about my work for Publishers Weekly, Poets & Writers, and Publishing Crossing.
Old - objective statement
To use my degree in business administration to get a job in telecom logistics, finance, or operations.
New - summary
I have a degree in business administration and internship experience working with telecom and SaS companies. I have completed extensive coursework in process management and am particularly interested in working with process optimization and product development.
Old - resume objective
I am a licensed massage therapist looking for a job with management opportunities.
New - resume summary
Licensed massage therapist with two years’ experience in scheduling, customer service, and marketing eager to develop and use my management skills to grow teams and increase business.
About our sources
Brittany King is a former talent acquisition and human resources consultant for Fortune 500 companies with over a decade of experience in full-cycle recruiting, recruitment process outsourcing, human resources consulting, and recruitment optimization.
Michele Mavi has been coaching job seekers and helping organizations hire top talent for over 15 years. As a certified Gallup strengths coach and an applied positive psychology practitioner, she currently helps individuals and teams leverage their strengths to achieve more fulfilling professional and personal outcomes. She is a job search expert and her advice has been seen in several publications, including Fast Company, U.S. News, Glamour, Business Insider, FairyGodBoss, Career Contessa, and many more.