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Career objective statement? Yes or no?

You only have 45 to 60 seconds to make a massive impact with your resume. Should that time be wasted on a prospective employer reading your career objective statement?

As expert recruiters (we’ve seen thousands and thousands of resumes) we say no.

It may sound odd given that for years a career statement was an essential component of a winning resume, but when you think about it, is it wise to let a prospective employer know about your incredible ambitions? That you’re a strategic thinker who has a definite plan regardless? In principle, yes. In reality, including a career objective can work against you. You could even be overlooked for a position you desperately want.

In her book, ‘Resume Success Secrets’, our Managing Director, Kate Prior, has a section on this very topic.

Here’s why Kate thinks it’s best NOT to include a career objective statement at the start of your resume:

  1. No match to the organisation

You might include an objective that doesn’t ultimately match the objectives of the organisation you’re applying to work for. This could lead a potential employer to think you’re not a cultural match, and cultural match is important for all organisations with successful recruitment.

  1. Objective could be misinterpreted

Your objective, especially because it’s short and succinct, can easily be misinterpreted. If, for example, you say you want to be the manager in 12 months, your potential employer—knowing the ins and outs of their business much more  than you do—may feel you’re impatient and unrealistic. They may even feel you won’t be a loyal employee.

  1. Could be inadvertently threatening

If the company organisation has no room for you to succeed with your stated career objective, you could be viewed as a threat and maybe even difficult to manage. The potential employer could think you’re overly ambitious and determined to push through with your career objective even if it’s not the right time or if you’re not ready.

  1. Risk sounding arrogant

It could be that your career objective statement, no matter how hard you try, will come across as sounding arrogant and only concerned about what you can get out of a job, not what you can (and will) bring to the table. This can be a real turn off for potential employers.

  1. Wow them from the start

Because you have so little time to ‘wow’ a prospective employer with your resume, it’s best to kick start your resume with ‘gold’ material. Position the employer to be immediately impressed with why you’re a well-qualified candidate for the position. Including a career objective statement is a waste of resume space and a waste of the employer’s time.

  1. Save valuable space

Modern resumes are as short as possible (maximum four to five pages including your cover letter), so make every word count. Including a multi-line career objective statement takes up valuable space and robs you of the opportunity to include more meaningful content that demonstrates how you meet the job specifications. Spend the time instead on writing a powerful overview of 10 bullet points outlining your experience and soft skills that match the job description.

  1. Forces you to re-focus

Leaving the career objective statement out ensures you focus on the true purpose of a resume. The focus shouldn’t be about you fulfilling your wants. It should be about what the employer needs and wants.

  1. Saves you time and hassle

Let’s face it, a well-crafted career objective isn’t easy to write. It takes time to think it through, draft it, rewrite it and rewrite it again so it’s perfect. Why not spend all this time perfecting the other content in your resume? You’d be much better to spend this valuable time creating an effective elevator pitch, which you can use during interview. Here are tips and examples for doing so.

Want to learn more about writing a winning resume?

  1. Buy Resume Success Secrets, which hit #1 on Amazon in its category within days of its release.
  2. Register with a recruiter, like award-winning face2face, who can support your search for work by providing expert tips and advice on how to write and present a resume that will get you the job.
  3. Read these expert career articles for tips on great resume writing:

Words to use and don’t use in your resume.

References: do’s and don’ts from the pros.

Tips for writing a cracker cover letter.

How to write a winning resume.


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