No Fooling — Objective Statements Are a Waste

No Fooling - Objective Statements are a Waste

It amazes me when I read articles, blog posts, and even some post-secondary institutions’ career services pages that still talk about using objective statements on résumés. “But this is 2014!” I think. “Why would any job seeker use such an antiquated convention?”

It can be hard to break away from something that had been a mainstay on résumés for many, many years. Some folks may even rationalize the need for an objective statement this way: “If a company doesn’t know how I feel about my career or what matters to me in my work, how can they know if I would fit in with them?” or “This could help a hiring manager know what my career plans are before I even walk in the door. They’re always asking me about where I see myself in 5-10 years, so an objective statement can give them something they are looking for!”

The problem is — kicking off a résumé in this way puts all the focus on you. What you want from your job, what you expect in your career… but job seeking is not about you!

It’s about THE COMPANY! How you are going to be able to help THE COMPANY overcome its obstacles, how your work can support efforts toward THE COMPANY’S goals. That’s what hiring managers care about, and it’s what you should keep in mind as you consider what all you choose to include on your résumé.

Back around the mid 2000s, roughly the midpoint of my career in nonprofit management, I used an objective statement on my résumé. I didn’t call it that, though — it was a “Statement of Purpose.” (Yes, I have always aspired to be a spin doctor…) It read:

“Committed to providing for the needs of the community.”

I recall being so proud for coming up with that statement. I hadn’t heard of personal branding yet at that point in my life, but that was essentially what I was trying to do — put forth what I stood for with my work. And with a career in the nonprofit sector, this was an appropriate idea to promote. One problem, though:

It didn’t communicate anything of value to a prospective employer!

It was a good description of how I viewed my vocation, yes. But there was nothing in those few words that effectively communicated what I could do (did I know how to run special events, raise funds, recruit volunteers?), how I made that value statement a reality, or what that meant in tangible terms.

In essence, it was a complete waste. It wasted space that could have been used to otherwise promote why I would be a smart choice as an employee, and it wasted the time of the hiring manager because s/he didn’t gain any information in the top fold of my résumé that would help make a hiring decision.

So why would you want to use an objective statement? In two words: you wouldn’t.

Instead, use a profile statement at the beginning of your résumé that is “meaty” (a great descriptor often used by Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter, a résumé writer I admire). Have it make a strong statement about what you have done/can do, and support your assertions with a succinct example or two.

Doing so will brand you well and give hiring managers a reason to learn more about you.

Image courtesy of manowar064

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