Objectives: Yea or Nay?

Objectives: Yea or Nay?
I recently had an opportunity to think about and answer questions regarding resume objectives. I thought I'd share them with you. The five questions asked were:
  1. Why should (or shouldn't) people include an objective on their resume?
  2. Are there any circumstances or situations where a resume doesn't need one - part time job with a simple job description or perhaps certain industries don't like to see them?
  3. What is a good example of a great objective?
  4. How should they be structured and/or what should they convey that is different from the rest of a resume?
  5. What do bad objectives look like?

Here are my answers and some general observations:

Why should (or shouldn't) people include an objective on their resume? Let me say at the outset I support the principle every resume, from the bull-pen to the boardroom, could benefit from having an objective. Here is why:

A. People will see the top of your resume before they look at the body and thus see your opening sentence – your objective. This is your first and best opportunity to create the “tone” you want and consequently, the “mood” for the reader. The writer sets the tone for the reader. This is a standard in the frameworks for writing and speaking.

B. The objective is like a title of a book. It sets, again, the tone for the prospective reader. “Prospective” reader, because it’s not certain the reader will read. If the title is “Indy 500” and the prospective reader is looking for a story about Canadian marathon runners, h/she will put the book back on the shelf. Also to that point, if the reader reads the title that says “Indy 500,” h/she has an idea of what the book may be about. This may get the reader to open the book and read the preface or forward. That is the goal here too: To have the reader want to read.

To summarize, the objective will influence the reader, sets the tone and mood, and thus provides perspective, or “flavors” everything that follows in the body. You are in control!

2. Are there any circumstances or situations where a resume doesn't need an objective (i.e. part-time job with a simple job description or certain industries that may not like to see them)? Not in my opinion, but it certainly is possible. I contend even in response to a part-time opportunity such as a waiter/waitress,bartender or store clerk, a candidate can, too, benefit by setting the tone and controlling the mood of the reader. Keep in mind there may be dozens or hundreds or even thousands with whom you may find yourself competing.

Here are 2 objectives that can add some zing to the resume and set the tone:

OBJECTIVE: To be part of an experienced upbeat wait-staff team. or...

OBJECTIVE: Experienced Catering Sales Rep and Assistant Manager looking to contribute to a fast-paced dining and function establishment

Let us suppose “Education” is one of those industries where pundits may suggest an objective is unnecessary or even frowned upon – that a teacher in public education would not need an objective on a CV therefore skeptical about a candidate who submits one. I would argue a simple objective does not "sell" a candidate, such as “Middle School Teacher” or “Science Teacher” is better than none at all; and for the same reasons outlined in my answer to question 1 above. That is an opportunity to set the tone. Here is an example that may be more appropriate for a private or public Charter school setting:

OBJECTIVE: Educator and former Business Professional with Master’s degree seeks position in an educational setting rich in diversity. Here, not only are you setting the tone you are “leading” the reader.

3. What is a good example of a great objective? There is no single example of a 'great objective.' The variations are many from (1) a simple bold-faced job title to (2) a title with specified skills or functions or industries and (3) a combination of all; or it can be (4) a simple statement of a candidate's intent such as our waiter/waitress and the businessperson above. It does not stop there. Objectives will also vary from entry-level to young on-the-rise professionals; to mid-level management and to senior and executive levels.

4. How should an objective look on a resume or CV and what should it convey that is different from the rest of a resume? Here are some examples of what objectives may look like using the 4 examples from my answer to the previous question:

(1) Senior Operations Management

(2) New Business Development Training & Development...Leadership...New Markets

(3) Accounting & FinanceCorporate Banking ● Private Placement ● Start-ups

(4) OBJECTIVE Marketing Specialist, Writer & Editor in Advertising with deep-level experience in Client Relations Management looking for CRM position in Industry.

As long as you keep in mind the objective is akin to the title of a book, you will find that there are no limits to how varied it can be. This is in part the answer to the second half of the question:

What does it say that the resume does not? As a title, you do not necessarily get additional or different information but a mind-set that flavors all the information that follows. If the chapter of a book is titled BLUE, and you begin reading about an alien attach, you will no doubt envision blue aliens. Make sense?5. What do bad objectives look like? What a great question! Any objective that is self-serving is a bad objective. Here is my all-time favorite 'bad' objective: OBJECTIVE: Looking for a growth opportunity in a growth organization that will utilize my skills and experience. I mean…come on... who isn’t? Moreover, Who the heck cares? People want to know want you can do for THEM, not what you want from them! 'Nough said. Finally, if you agree in-part, altogether or not at all, I would love to hear from you. It is that dialogue that teaches us all so well!
Man on laptop enjoys summer while working full time

There you are: sitting on the beach, covered in sunscreen, reading your favorite book, drinking your favorite drink under the cool shade of an umbrella. Life doesn't get any better than this. Suddenly, a door slams, a phone rings, a printer turns on. You jolt back into consciousness. You're at work, sitting in your cubicle, without even a hint of sunshine streaming in from outside.

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