IT Employment

Do you use the Objectives section on your resume?

Some people place a paragraph at the top of their resume that talks about their career objectives or sums up the characteristics that would make them good employees. Do you use this feature?

I've got a question I'd like to throw out to you guys. You know that place -- usually at the beginning -- on a resume where you list your career objective or your general characteristics or qualifications? For example, this is the place you'd see "Committed to superior customer service" or "Great interpersonal skills." I'd like to know if any of you still use that section. It seems a little superfluous to me and I'm not sure if hiring managers look very hard at it. It's obviously very subjective, and you could make the same points, more concretely, in a listing of your actual work experience and qualifications farther down on the page. But then, it could be a nice place to just summarize what your qualifications will bear out in the rest of your resume. What do you think?

I'm going to post a poll in IT Leadership to find out how many managers look at this section and I'll let you know what they say.

About

Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.

191 comments
melissatutors
melissatutors

I once read somewhere from an "expert" at such things that the Objectives section is old fashioned, no longer necessary. I removed it from my resume, but adjusted my process in two ways: (1) I use my introductory letter/email to state my objectives (2) I placed a bulleted list at the top of my resume titled "Personal Strengths." The rest of my resume is a functional style, emphasizing experience rather than time frames. This seems to work for me, as I get many calls and compliments as a result of the resume. I also occasionally get paid to help other people create a new resume using my style, and they let me know that it's working for them as well.

ehula
ehula

It's the fastest way for a hiring agent to glance at a resume and immediately decide yes or no. If you want to move up and be a manager, then say so. My first few drafts did not have an objective and I think my resume did better after I added it.

landinn
landinn

I'm a technical recruiter at Microsoft and a resume consultant. There are very few times when I would advise using an objective (I never do except on job boards telling people what I *don't* want). If you choose to use an objective, don't tell me what I already know (that you are looking for a job that is more challenging, allows you to use your skills/talents, values your contribution to the bottom line blah blah blah). An objective can also be limiting. If you tell me you want to be X, you won't be considered for Y and Z even if you are a fit. When to use it: switching industries/jobs, let me know why you have a history as an accountant and are now looking at analyst jobs. Moving: let me know you are already moving and that you are seeking a job in your new city. As with everything on your resume, make it *targeted not generic.*

mtoney
mtoney

I can tell you unequivocally, that this section can be used better by getting someone's attention. An objective does not differentiate you from anyone else in the pile. An achievement, a skill, or a statement of what makes you different will better serve you and my time. When I hire someone, their resume has less than 30 seconds to catch my eye. If in that 30 seconds I have not reached a point of interest that distinguishes this person from the pile, they fall in stack one (the large stack.) The large stack is NOT the one you want to be in. On the other hand, if your resume says something and in the first few lines can tell me that you accomplished something, you offer something, or you have the potential to offer something beyond the large stack, you go into the short stack. I trained students for a technical school for several years. I was director of two campuses of a New Jersey based IT School. During that time I conducted Career Building Classes and taught Resume Building and Interviewing Skills as part of the curriculum. One of the key points of my curriculum was the early sell being a critical function of your resume. So, knowing that our objectives will always be to land that position, no matter how you fluff it up with pretty words, you are not there to show off your vocabulary. What you would be best off sharing, is how you can help add technically, managerially, or logistically, whichever may be the case, to the organization in your first few lines of your resume. THE Engineer windowsmt60@hotmail.com

steve
steve

The trick is to be non-superfluous. That is it must fit the job description to a tee. Statements like "am a fast learner" only bring failure to a resume. Sometimes subtitles like Steve Delaney, "Indepentent IT Recruiter" get the objective accross on one line.

a_vagga
a_vagga

No I don't for a similar reason that it looks little superfluous. Neither do I look at while hiring. To me it more often than not indicates an individuals fantasies rather than what he/she is made of.

DrunkWithPower
DrunkWithPower

It seems to me that there is too much weight put on the Objective statement during the hiring process. If someone says "To use my technical skills...", well, isn't that true for all of us? Why is the truth wrong? When I was asked to go over resumes, I focused on the experience, career highlights, grammar, and spelling. I didn't toss a resume because of an Objective cliche. There might be some really good candidates that I would never get to interview if I did that.

chrisachangala
chrisachangala

I use that area to state my objective [for submitting my resume]. It currently states that I am seeking full time employment in the [county] area, in the [field] that will accommodate my disability. I noticed some people stated they used the area for educational/certification goals, or interests. My resume has those items in another section. As an ex office manager for a government agency, I learned that there is a point where there is just too much information, whether its fluffed or not. No one wants to read 4 pages of resume, even if its only one page worth of data. Keep It Simple Stupid! As I update mine, I remove some info from the bottom and rearrange items to make it fit. I have 3 pages, 1 and 2 are jobs, 3 is disposable, with interests, contacts, education, certification, software and office machines. do they still teach classes on how to make resumes in college?

louvaslo
louvaslo

I use EVERYTHING on a resume, like any smart interviewer should. The problem with deleting the Objectives area is that you start making changes to standard business formats. And that might make you appear to other business segments as being sloppy or uninformed. Most companies have either a contractor or an admin, or maybe even an HR rep filtering out resumes. Do you want YOUR resume to be junked because it had, in their opinion, a format issue? I've known good resumes for talented people to be skipped just because there was a spelling or minor grammar issue by the first level reviewer. Whether its wasted space or not (and yes in technical terms it is), its part of the resume. And in my perspective its only wasted space if you don't use it in the interview. And I always do. I ask them to expand on what is said there and tell me what they mean in specific terms related to the company I represent. If they did their homework and knew a little about the company they can answer. It gives me a way of gauging how the candidate prepares for a task and how creative they are with their communication. Lou Vassallo

qumer2001
qumer2001

Well, I remember before getting my first job I use to put this section. But after a 4 years of working I donot have this section anymore on my CV

fernando.duenasanaya
fernando.duenasanaya

I use it. It is, in a way, a kind of self description beyond your experience, the goal you want to achieve. It's good to use it, thought you musn't go too deep... Balance is the key.

keith.w.redmond
keith.w.redmond

I used to use this in my resume but a resume expert advised that I remove it.

rhal
rhal

I still use it. But somehow I feel that its already outdated. Many have not use it anymore especially those who are targeting the managerial post. And I think its not what very good headhunters wanted to see.

sean
sean

I use it on my resume, and the most annoying thing I find that most often shows up in this section is when someone puts "Looking for a full time position....." when that is what you are applying for. A number of candidates do not know how to do a resume properly, something they should spend a bit of time and money learning as this is critical to getting an interview. Of course my other pet peeve is when there are spelling mistakes (hope I havent made any here) Just my 2 cents worth

dsnethen
dsnethen

Personally I think that is useful when starting out your career: 1-3 years after entering your professional career. After that, I would leave it off. To me the cover letter is the best place to expound upon your interests and objectives.

copperti
copperti

I use it still. I think it gives you a chance to voice your opinion of yourself and the rest of the resume backs you up.

fidlrjiffy
fidlrjiffy

As a hiring manager I would not pay attention to an Objectives section. This is because I am interested in the past experience of the candidate in terms of understanding how that experience may mesh with my requirements for the current position. I know what objectives the candidate has: to get the job they are applying for. While the candidate may have other stated long term career objective the harsh reality is that a hiring manager is really not interested in that. I have a position to fill and if the candidate objectives are in line with that then I don't need to know them. If their not, then they are at best irrelevant and the candidate is not serving themselves well. The only value I can see is as some sort of replacement for a cover letter where the resume is the only thing that HR is going to see. In that case put the exact job title in the objectives so HR can distinguish one resume from another. Furthermore, HR people may like to see an objectives section and it's just possible that a resume with an objectives section will be one they will pass on to the hiring manager. In that respect an objectives section can't hurt. Just don't expect that HR will read the objectives section or understand it. Bottom line: put in an objectives section. It can't hurt and might help. Just don't spend a lot of time on it.

dineshbhandari
dineshbhandari

1. A company hire an employee for the skills the person has rather than what he want to do or his or her aims in life 2. While negotiating about the salary they argue about the skills & experience and not what they want to do

brian
brian

I paid a professional Resume Writer (IT focused person) who had me compile two resumes: A technical and a managerial one. The technical one has the Objective summary, while the managerial one has the Executive Summary. The Exec Summary has one line dedicated to describing what I intend to get from the specific job I am applying for. He said it was a great way to understand if the job is right for you, by expressing how you plan to use the job as a stepping stone.

hkwilkes
hkwilkes

Objectives for career, yes. Objectives for the job, no! What, I'm supposed to say "my plan is to take your job"; "I'm just taking this chump job until something good opens up"?? I don't even read them unless they're about the individual's career objectives and even then with a grain of salt. For a person who can't spell my name right to claim dreams of an advanced degree or certification is usually a turn-off. And since I'm now 65, my objective is to live long, live large - not exactly a confidence builder for a new employer (I'm one of the few people living who actually used Hollerith cards).

rodbell101
rodbell101

If my intent is specific to the job opportunity, I may use it, for example: SEEK PM CONTRACT WORK JUNE 2008 - MARCH 2009 If "contract" was part of the job spec, with dates, then I would highlight in Objectives. Why? Because the recruiter may be faced with a pile of good-looking prospects who aren't really interested in a gig of that duration on those dates.

fdaugherty
fdaugherty

Yes It is a great place to see how effective and efficient the person can summarized their skills/career with relevant information. Good example of their written communication skills.

herlizness
herlizness

absolutely not; it's a silly formalism and for this kind of work almost nobody cares what your objectives are, nor should they. the only relevant factors are whether you can do what they need to done and how much it will cost them to have you do it ... typical resumes purport to show some evidence of the former and do not address the latter for the most part, resumes are a waste of everyone's time, IMO ... a simple list of skills and summarized experience should be enough to get the ball rolling anyone making a hire should know her craft well enough to judge whether someone is more likely than not going to succeed in the position ... then you see if s/he actually can and dismiss/retain

chas_2
chas_2

Toni: I used to work for a professional business writing service and resumes were our main offering. Our resumes did have an objective, but our resumes followed that with a "Profile" section, a summary of several bullet points summarizing an individual's qualifications for a job. Many folks would probably claim that no one reads a profile or summary, but I would disagree with that. If one happens to be well-written - that is, neat, clear and concise - it merits at least a glance. If nothing else, resume scanning software could read the section, looking for more keywords. The other thing is that if you are asked in for an interview, you can use the Profile or Summary section to help structure or guide the interview. It is something to which you can point to bring up things about yourself. When I do my own resume or resume for friends, I do not use an objective, but I still do use a profile. In the first place, if a particular position is being sought, a resume will often be tailored to the qualifications required by such position, so an objective is almost superfluous. Secondly, if a particular position is not being sought, as is common wisdom, an objective "limits" the job-seeker. If folks feel - or if industry practices bear out - that a profile or summary is useless, then we'd all probably be better served creating what's used internationally - the Curriculum Vitae or "C.V.". A CV is nothing other than a dry listing of an individual's working life. It is not written to "sell" a person the way a resume is supposed to be designed. More than any of this, though, regardless of whether a resume has an objective, profile, or summary, the basics MUST be observed: * Make DAMN sure there aren't any misspelled words. And don't rely on spell checkers in word processing programs; spell checkers don't always understand context and "resume grammar" differs from ordinary speech. Better companies are looking for people that care about details; if you can't get details like spelling correct, why should you be trusted to work on a $300,000 contract? * Make sure it's neat and that fonts are consistent. Don't overdo formatting (or try to be "fancy") to impress someone; a pro can spot an amateur resume a mile away. Make sure margins are aligned properly. Have 3/4" white space margins around all four sides. Don't go below 10 points on your font size. For lists, use bullets; they're easier for the eyes to follow. * Make sure EVERYTHING on your resume is TRUE. You should be able to discuss every point and piece of information in an interview without waffling or weaseling. People are more cynical than ever and their bullsh*t detectors are working overtime. The sad part about resumes is that many people - including those in HR departments - have their own notions about what makes a resume "good". Such individuals may think a resume is visually attractive but not know how to interpret (if that's the right word) the information contained in it. And that can mean that you lose a job opportunity. "The closest people come to perfection ... is when they write their resumes." --Source unknown

ckensek
ckensek

Yes - Only to list major skills and key words for resume scanning. Otherwise - Unless you're only sending out CV's on a limited basis, are conducting an extremely limited job search, don't have multiple interests (anybody using the word passion in a job description should not be allowed to have children!), and truly are interested in doing only one thing, a detailed objectives section makes it easy for a recruiter or staffing person to screen out your CV. Kind of contrarian. A caveat - if your interest is a particular industry. Whatever happened to the person whose only passion was to market laser disk players?

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

Given I use a fairly generic cv/resume for the pimps, a statement like that could easily be irrelevant, misleading or massively counter-productive. If I was targetting an opportunity, I'd do that sort of thing in a cover letter, and then I'd try to do better than that sort of numpty marketting stock phrase. Committed to high quality customer service, I mean that's a no brainer. The sort of honesty that would have you claim to be comitted to the absolute minimum to maximise margin, wouldn't be very welcome would it? :p When I'm looking at resumes, if I see this sort of thing and then no evidence of where such a high minded ideal has been applied, well don't hold your breath waiting for an interview....

kdavis
kdavis

I put a synopsis of my experience as well as my goals to highlight what I want the reader to look for in my resume. Sometimes titles don't match the job description, so it is a way to bring attention to the function as opposed to the title. I have found it useful to *read* objectives when I am looking at resumes for one particular reason. It often lets you know if the candidate is REALLY interested in this job or if they are just sending out the required number of resumes. Why waste time interviewing someone for a writing position when you can tell they really want to do engineering?

mastichero
mastichero

I may be old-fashioned, but I have always used a cover letter to voice any subjective thoughts related to the position, the company or my qualifications. I think this accomplishes a couple of objectives: It gives the employer a tidy summary of what you expect to gain from working there, as well as what you feel you can contribute; and, it demonstrates your ability to communicate - a valuable skill in any environment, whether you work in a team or alone. If I use the Objectives section of the resume, I keep it to a single sentence, such as "To improve my skills in [whatever].

jasondlnd
jasondlnd

I include the objective line at the top of my resumes to indicate to the hiring manager/reader that I understand what the job is and that it is in line with my reasons for applying for the job. For example, if I were applying for a job as an Applications Specialist, my objective wouldn't say Help Desk Support. If you will be including an objective, make sure it matches the position you are applying for. The goals and future of your career as it relates to the position can be discussed in the interview.

NotSoChiGuy
NotSoChiGuy

To maximize my financial gain while minimizing my effort output! :) Seriously, I only have left it on the resume this long to help stave the "where do you see yourself in 5 years" question. Conversely, as a hiring manager, I only look at an objective section to gauge the ability to write coherently (I'm always surprised when I see a resume come through that just massacres the English language...a small error here or there, especially for ESL workers, is forgivable...but I WANT WORK FOR COMPANY TO FOR YOU BENEFIT GOALS LONG TERM.....yikes), as well as to see if they addressed the long term aspirations at all.

walker.stephen
walker.stephen

A resume has one purpose - to land an interview. I look for a summary (35 words or less) that tells me what the employee can do for our organization and not what we can do for them. That's what gets an interview! Steve Walker Project Manager http://www.linkedin.com/pub/1/ab7/670

RonBrown
RonBrown

Sure, but I always put it in the cover letter. (I was always looking for steady work in a pleasant environment with the possoibility for advancement. I usually settled for 1 out of three.) But I found a way to keep the cover letter from being separated from the resume: I used folio paper (11" X 17") folded in the middle. The first page was the cover letter. The second page was work history. The third page showed images of awards/certifications,. And the fourth page was a listing of accomplishments. I found this to be a very effective presentation--putting a 4-page document on one sheet of paper.

SMFX_
SMFX_

I've used the "Objective" area frequently and do look at it often on resumes. I've never seen the field to mean "impartial (objective) information about myself", but rather "my goals (my objective) in my career are...". I can get a summary of what you've done by reading over your resume, but what I look to the "Objective" field is to find out where that person wants to take themselves. This is not something I can get from just looking at their resume; I can see where they've been, but not where they're going. By identifying what they've done with experience, I can get an idea of how much training it would take to get them in here. By finding out where they want to go, I can determine if this is someone that is going to stay here and grow, be content and idle, or get bored and leave. Frequently, people try to put a sterile "Summary" of their experience in their objective and to me, that is not the intent.

perpetualjon
perpetualjon

I have not read a single resume in the last 15 years that was improved or helped in any way by an Objective statement. What will you be saying there other than "hello, I want a job here"? If you are only looking for temporary work or something special like that, use a cover letter. All the fluff I've read over the years like "seeking employment in upwardly-mobile position where my skills will be used to their fullest... blah blah blah..." Waste of time. I'm an employer and I have your resume in my hand --I get your objective right away. Now a well-written summary statement IS useful to me. It will tell me if I need to read further or if I can stop now and move on with my life and career without wasting my time reading your life story trying to find out if you have experience driving a forklift. Please, do us all a favor that have to read resumes frequently and get rid of the objective statement.

margaret.pallas
margaret.pallas

I use this: OBJECTIVE Web and/or e-learning design/developer position that requires a creative, conceptual designer with strong interpersonal communication skills, advanced software skills, and a flexible team player who will work to make valuable contributions to your projects and organization. Good or bad?

bspell
bspell

I'm a recruiter for a software company and I can tell you that I couldn't care less if it was there on a technical resume. 99% of what employers need to know when hiring technical people is (or should be) in the body of the resume. It can really do more harm than good. I wrote a blog entry regarding the topic of technical resumes back when I was a headhunter. I don't keep up the blog anymore but the article is still out there and relevant. You can find it at http://houstonheadhunter.wordpress.com/2008/01/11/resumes/ Wow. lots of comments already. i didn't read them all so I apologize if this has already been said.

mooks
mooks

I tend to alter my objectives base on the job ads. I re-write around the job advertisements or what agencies want.

holly.harkness
holly.harkness

I include a summary of my best selling points, but not an objective. The objective should be obvious: I need a job! If you spell out your objective too specifically, you might get passed over for a unique opportunity that you hadn't considered. Why box yourself in?

Jerry L
Jerry L

If you use the space to summarize your key skills, then I guess it is no longer an "objectives" section, right? Describing a job/career objective on the resume adds little value, and usually presents more cliche than anyone should ever have to read. Jerry, MyCareerClues

scoopboys
scoopboys

I list a summary of experience and unique skills on my own resume, as I feel this allows a hiring manager to get a quick overview without having to "read between the lines" of job details. But I don't list an objective, as I have never seen one that really seems valuable. I am also a hiring manager, and from that perspective I see objectives as either too vague ("Seek a challenging position with a Fortune 500 company") or too narrow (in applying for a specific position "Seek the exact job that is posted"). In my experience, reading through specific details of responsibilities on dozens of resumes is painful, so seeing a brief summary at the outset is helpful to me personally.

Scott.Geiger
Scott.Geiger

I recently sat on a hiring committee and had to read through nearly 100 resumes. When you have that many resumes to go through you don't have a lot of time to review them. I probably spent about 20 - 30 seconds on each. Some of the resumes did have a Summary/Objective line at the top. For the most part I simply ignored those and went right to the education and past experience sections. If that caught my interest then I would scan the entire resume. So here is the thing, putting it in is not necessarily good or bad. If you use it you need to differentiate yourself. It should add to your resume and enhance it. If you simply state your "objective" is to "get the job"... well that's boring and quite obvious. The bottom line is that this is one small part of your total resume. When a hiring manager/committee member spends less than 30 seconds on your resume it better stand out or you won't get the interview. You need to tailor your resume and cover letter to each job you apply for. Scott Geiger

lists
lists

Skip it. I assume that your objective is "get the job you're posting" because you want the job, think you can do it well and it somehow fits into your short or long-term goals. Or, you just want the job. We'll figure out on the hiring side how real that fit appears to be from your experience, cover letter and interview. I've hired hundreds of people over the years, interviewed many times that number and read who-knows-how-many resumes. I've never said "wow, there's a great fit here" based on someone's objective statement. But I have seen the objective section as a place to screw up, by having some wording that doesn't match some element of the job that the candidate doesn't yet know or understand. Finally, the place to differentiate yourself and add perspective, strategic outlook, stylistic info etc. that's not on your CV is: your cover letter.

quintus
quintus

I use it, but for me it has to fit on one line, and varies a little based on the job I'm applying for. Basically I customize it some each time based on the job I'm applying for. Now, I've done project management and product management in the IT world lately, so here's how mine reads: "Use my technical and business skills to successfully manage projects, people, and client relationships."

nate.jaeger
nate.jaeger

Like many of you I agree that the objective section of a resume is just added fluff. It is far more important to communicate how you are an effective manager in your work experience rather than just stating it in a summary or objective. For example, "Supervised team of 12 engineers on development, implementation and deployment of xyz system for abc client." As an employer I don't want to hear you tell me that you are a good manager I want you to back it up with relative facts.

rhefner
rhefner

As someone who has done a lot of hiring over the past 2 decades, I would advise candidiates have a skills section, but not a objectives section. Skills are useful for matching a candidate to the job requirements. Objectives are an opportunity to reject a candidate by noting that the job at hand is not their ideal job. They also tend to be generic ("Growth oppotunity in a high-tech environment..."), or so tailored to the job at hand that they don't sound realistic.

jackgarvin
jackgarvin

I do not use an Objectives section. In the top 1/3 of the first page employers only want to know if I qualify for a review of the rest of my resume. An Objectives section is forward looking, not experience based, and can severely limit the scope of your 'usefulness'.

jhsierra3
jhsierra3

There are several "expert" resume writers and most Florida Schools do NOT recommend the objective. After taking with several recruiters and reading the do's and don'ts of resume writing, the suggestion is to not include the objective because most (90%+) do not write a good objective. I have had several recruiters say they stop at the objective because it is weak, off topic, only shows persoanl goals, etc. and makes the beginning impression pour. 1st impressions also go with resumes. If you blow it on the 1st paragraph, it doesn't matter the rest of your qualifications, if the reader stops reading your poor objective.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

but I can tell you it's the exact opposite over here. The skills and experience are what I use to get what I want from an employer. What I want to do, is what I want to do and if the position can't offer the means we are not negotiating. Now you might see it different from your side of table, but that's only relevant in terms of giving me a better understanding of what makes you tick. Hire for attitude....

ndsatya
ndsatya

Well, Dinesh did not mean for India completely though he is quite right. And, generalization of statements with stereotyping and putting a group together - does it count for attidue or not? (again it is specific to you - I have worked in many parts of the world) Bottomline - it is not part of the discussion! (attitude again!) Having an objective is very subjective. I had put earlier it is a formal one and it has to be there. But the modern management is different. They ask for 1 page resume. In 1 page resume, you can not have objectives etc. Rather what you can have is you name, contact details, projects/products - with date, resonsibility and So far, a number of wonderful comments. Will wait for Toni's and team's final assement :-)

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

I've been doing this stuff 20+ years. With ruthless pruning, I've got it to 2 - 3, and page 3 rarely gets read. I put it back in after not having it, nearly cost me a job. I could go for two cvs one basically mainframe the other basically winders, but you can guarantee the right people would get the wrong one if I did that, and one of the best contracts I ever had was from knowing both... THe real problem is cvs are not aimed at vacancies they are aimed at recruiters and HR, they are the first two hurdles.

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