IT Employment

Poll results: Do hiring managers consider your resume's Objectives statement?

We have the results from the poll we conducted in which we asked if IT managers ever pay attention to the Objectives statement that many people put on their resumes.

Last week, I opened up a discussion by asking if you use the Objectives section on your resume. Apparently, this was a topic a lot of you feel strongly about because 172 posted your reasons for or against the resume element. Many said they use it to let the potential employer know what they are interested in, while some use it as shorthand for a cover letter in case the cover letter gets misplaced in the chain of interview steps.

TechRepublic member karen said, "I put my career goals in my objective section. For example, if a job description mentions that it will entail working with basic VoIP, this is where I might say that I am interested in pursuing a certification in VoIP." Others, like Palmetto, thought it was just a waste of keystrokes. "There's only one objective and that's to get hired. Anything else is superfluous nonsense unsuccessfully attempting to disguise the truth."

I would say about a third of those who responded in the discussion use the statement, a third do not, and the other third say they recommend it only if the statement specifically matches the job they're applying for. Take a look at the discussion -- it yielded some great advice.

When I posted that blog, I promised that I would run a poll for IT managers and ask them if they look at the Objectives statement on job candidates' resumes. Out of 259 respondents, 58% said they do look at them and 42% do not.

Hiring manager gary.hughes said, "I do read the objective section if it is included. However, more times than not, the candidate would have made a better impression without including that section. Just provide me with solid qualifications and experiences that will make me interested enough to bring you in for an interview. If you get the interview, then we can discuss your forward-looking objectives."

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.

52 comments
murillorobert
murillorobert

I agree with the comment about being a waste of hey strokes as I feel that experience is what employers want; so, what I do is I place my objective only by title such as UNIX Administrator or Sr. Systems Enginner, and then I list my accomplishments by company and the awards I have received from companies as a recognition of the work accomplished suchs as: "Merit salary increase and bonus", I place it at the end of my experience in bold letters and with and extra space between my experience and my award ... I do that for every company in my resume; I believe it shows employer's satisfaction which is better than a silly Certification.

ernestm
ernestm

Ah, the much-maligned Objectives section. Well, I think this would be less important if people bothered with cover letters any more, but they seldom do. As a result, it becomes important in its place. As a hiring manager, I feel that the objectives on a resume serve a key role, which is to help analyze how likely a match is between us and the candidate. Remember, it's as much of a waste of time to interview someone who won't want the position as to interview someone you don't want for it. (See Joel Spolsky's excellent tech-hiring book "Smart and Gets Things Done" for more on this.) People put in resumes to you in all kinds of ways for all kinds of reasons, and often, ironically, they are not really looking for the job you have. I hire for Web systems engineers, and have to toss out a lot of developer resumes whenever I post. Now, this is a role that can certainly benefit from someone with development *experience* - but not someone whose *objective* is to be a developer/get a development job. Similarly, if someone's experience says "network admin" to me, that's not diagnostic enough for me to want an interview - if someone has good network experience but is looking to branch out into Web systems, I'd like to talk to them to give them a shot, but I don't intend to waste an hour of phone screen time (as well as the time filling out all the EEO crap I have to fill out whenever I talk to anyone) unless they have a cover letter or objective that indicates that they *are* focused on the kind of opportunity I have. Otherwise, I assume they either read the posting poorly or that they even have an automated agent to submit to jobs on a keyword match basis (fairly popular among the mostly unemployable). Even though I have trouble finding good people to fill my positions, I've learned to toss any resume that doesn't strongly say "match" to me because of the poor return on time investment with "iffy" ones. As a hiring manager, you find out quickly that assumptions are bad. One of the key assumptions that is often not true is that applicants to your position want that position. And except for a couple industries where I guess the fatcats still reign, as a manager you have about 100 other things to do with your time other than interview and hire. So it is crucial to fill your positions as quickly as possible with as little wasted effort as possible. To that end, even the "objectives" section has its uses. I would certainly recommend anyone applying for a position that you do not have clear and compelling previous and recent experience in to have either objectives or a cover letter explaining your objectives.

jeffe17505
jeffe17505

It's not about what YOU want...it's about who and what THEY want in the position. All they care about is whether or not you would be a good fit. And if your stated objectives don't align with the job, that might indicate that even though you may be qualified, you might immediately start looking for something "better" once you were hired.

ehruska
ehruska

I think the Objective is mostly just useful for proving how good one is at Marketing. Not super useful from my perspective. Looking at Resume's however, is extremely useful. Tells you something about a candidates organizational skills, writing ability, and that's not to mention the fluff that's on it.

cmcurrie2
cmcurrie2

If so, what was different about the successful objective sections that got a hiring manager to want to interview the applicant? Whether or not a hiring manager reads them is not the issue. Whether or not people put an objectives section in a resume is not the issue - it's if applicants who do or don't get invited for interviews, and what specific type of information compells interviews. The initial set of questions opened up this discussion, but they need to be more precise to be useful.

clindell
clindell

I'll help all of you by suggesting you forgo an objective, don???t use it! Objective's are pass??, old school and can in many cases hurt you. If your objective doesn't match what they are looking for you'll never get an indication why. If the Hiring Manager only has about 3-4 seconds to read through stacks of resumes does that person really have the time to read and care about your objective? The Hiring Manager only cares about finding the best candidate they can get which means eliminating all the others that aren't up to par or have red flags in them. How do I know? I am reading a book by a former Hiring Manager who covers this and many other points in a book. What most of us have been doing was taught by others who really don???t know what the Hiring Manager needs or wants and end up telling them to much which gets us eliminated. Craft your resume with enough info it looks like an advertisement, a summary at the top, history below and education after that. There is more that is outlined in my reading but I don???t want to give all my secrets away.

swdpitviper
swdpitviper

... for a company that favors efficiency over effectiveness ? I don't want to get off on a rant here, but while I'm sure that a lot of your comments re: keyword filters are true, if I get slected out because of that, it wasn't a culture I cared to work in anyway. Their filter worked to MY benefit. True, it limits my opportunities, but I'm sure it also filters out many jobs that I might have had the technical qualifications for but would have made me miserable by virtue (or the lack thereof) of the corporate culture. Companies that filter by keywords often get exactly what they deserve ... people that don't "get it" socially but know how to game the system to get past the filters. You encourage "cheating" right off the bat by the very practice you use to screen for good applicants. Don't waste your time disagreeing with me until you read a number of these blog entries on the subject confessing to just such "gaming" behavior. Again, I'm not painting everyone with the same brush ... just suggesting that statistically, your first wave of "qualified applicants" may contain a disproportionally large number of gamers ... and I ain't talkin' 'bout "Everquest". :-) My single worst hire EVER was an individual whose resume could have been used to CREATE the keyword filter for the position I needed to fill. This individual had every single skill needed to hit the ball out of the park except ONE; Social Skills and good judgement. OK, that's two ... you won't find any math aspirations in my personal objective statement. :-) Resumes are now, and have always been the _second_ step in a job seach ... the first is networking and using your network to get introductions. If you're using your resume as the leading prong in your job search, you have already missed the point entirely and are as likely to land a satisfying and appropriate job as Brittney Spears is to become Time Magazine's "Mother of the Year". Job hunting, just like dating, is a social task, not a technical one ... if you lead with text, you are most likely to end up with a totally unsatisfying, dead-end, mind-numbing, soul-destroying experience ... and your job hunt is likely end the same way too :-) Having said that. the type of employer that ends up with MY resume in their hands has the unique opportunity to see my style, communications skills, work ethic, and personal philosophy regarding a job in my objective statement should they decide to read it. I think that the "keyword filters" only make the probability higher in my favor that the objective statement will be considered. But that's just my opinion ... I could be wrong.

djed
djed

As someone who has read through thousands of resumes, I have to ask: what is the purpose of including objectives? I'm looking for someone to fill a particular job. If they want to be VP of the company, does that help them do a better job as a tech or will they be playing politics? If they want to work with servers and the job I'm filling is something else, why would I consider them with so many other candidates available? If all they want is the job I'm hiring for, the fact they sent a resume tells me that. Seems to me that most of what I can get from objectives is negative or wasted space.

kalwein
kalwein

Objective statements are really, really low on the list of things I review when hiring a candidate. Use the space to highlight your experience and relevant skills. Only put in the objective statement if they are minimal and this is a junior level position.

Dilberter
Dilberter

Things I have lost a interview job over:_ 1. The manager had flunked out of the Air Force Academy ( Since I was an NCO in the A.F.; he hated my guts )-IBM 2. I put bifocals on to read a memo-lost the job because the previous Network guy had switched the Network to Large Font and then nothing worked!-Cyrstal CIty. 3. Personnel had listed the Delphi job by substituting 'Delphi' for 'Cobol'; requiring 15 years experience in Delphi ( when it had only been out for five years ). 4. The company ( about 10 of them ) had seen veteran on my resume; so they interviewed me for a non-existant job. Why?? Because they hoped I would fill out the Department of Labor form which gives them gold stars or credit for interviewing a Vet!!!! After I finally realized what was happening; I eliminated my service to my country from my resume ( let them find out later! ).

info
info

I think they stop reading after getting their first IT job.

Dilberter
Dilberter

They Don't care about your experience; so why should they care about your Objectives? Personel Interviewers are trying to fit the square Oracle DBA ( for instance ) into a Unix round hole. If he seems to fit; then they pass him on to the staff manager who hires him. What a shock to the Oracle DBA who ends up cleaning bathrooms! HA!

kjmcsd
kjmcsd

I think it depends on what field you are in. I'm in the IT industry and I interview people for a contracting firm and I really don't care about it. I'm more interested in what you say you know. What you say you do at current job is most important to me. From a consulting firm's point of view, your career goals means nothing, it what hole you can fill so we can make some money off of you.

18th Letter
18th Letter

this was a great poll and discussion. It definitly changes the way I will prepare my resume. I going to use a targeted obj statement depending on the job description.

sbrenusa
sbrenusa

Make it easier for managers to know your strengths

Michael_Knight
Michael_Knight

Great article I know this is a topic we have all thought about, I still won't include it. I actually am going through an interview process now where I went in for one job, and they liked me so much they found another one for me. I think that objectives limit you. If you say you want to work on servers does that necessarily mean you won't work on network devices if offered?

prasliv
prasliv

I think this boils down to every individual. Or even individual circumstances for the day. If the manager is in good mood, something not so interesting can be regarded as funny and still the writer can get away with it and sometimes if the manager is not in his right state of mind, sorry guys, this is your badluck as everything you write in objective is gonna offend the manager. simple... This recruiting business is not so straight forward as you guys think.... Even the weather of the day influnces the decision. And yeah... I am not going to mention those superstitious managers who thinks.. oh while reading this cv, I got a call for that long awaiting contract... so this person is lucky for the company... or may be even opposite.... ;)

NeilBoyd
NeilBoyd

If your only aim is to get hired you are happy to continue working on anything from your past qualifications and experiences then I can see that the objectives section is irrelevant. But if you have lots of varying experience and you want to take your career in a particular direction then that is what you would say in your objectives. Isn't that the same thing as saying that you have ambition and you're not just a coding monkey?

herbert_mendoza
herbert_mendoza

maybe not so much..i think they more focus on skills and competency.

herbert_mendoza
herbert_mendoza

maybe not so much..focus is more on the skills and competency

rAllcorn
rAllcorn

With today's technologies, and the requirement to build an "online resume", it has become obvious to me that most managers and hiring officials really never even "see" the RESUME until you're AT the interview process! The "computer" does the work for them and performs "keyword searches" to filter out probable qualified vs non-qualified applicants. The problem with this is that "terms" are NOT standard. They are not "solid" basic, on the list multiple choice type terms. As a result, a great deal of folks who might be qualified never make the initial cut because they didn't have the right "catch phrase" words in their resume. So, naturally, the OBJECTIVE will never been seen by many ... because they don't see the resume at all!

T.Walpole
T.Walpole

I have disqualified candidates based on their Objective if it suggested that they might not be satisfied with the position I had to fill. Also in the blog article someone mentioned an objective like, " to get VOIP certification". This is irrelavent to me as an employer. If certification is important to me when filling a position, then I will look for someone who already has the cert, not someone who wants to have the cert. One would be better off using that space to describe all one's real-world experience in VOIP, instead of pointing out what they don't have. If it doesn't add to your value propostion to the employer, then don't include it.

TheDumpster
TheDumpster

No! They usually sound like a Miss America answer. Every objectives says stuff like valuable contribution, professional growth, world peace, ending famine, yadda-yadda-yadda. The real meat is what have you done, where, and for how long?

alaniane
alaniane

since the article is more about hiring managers than IT personnel.

TexasJetter
TexasJetter

Ok, I'm not disputing the accuracy of your statement, but it is sad the think someone's livelihood can be based on who called when the manager picked up a resume. I would hate to work for that firm . . . hmm should we go with Vendor A or Vendor B - let's go with A since their logo color matches our :)

aandruli
aandruli

The objectives section should not be about wanting to become a SVP -- it should state that your objective is to find a fast-paced position where your X and Y skills can be utilized in a so-and-so environment, and if it fits the job, it shows that you would enjoy the position and not merely be another name of the employee list

JamesRL
JamesRL

And to be honest with you, we are a Fortune 500 company, and we have no type of automated scanning at all. We get resumes, we read them. HR generally screens for criteria that I set up (number of years of experience, exposure to some specific technologies etc). So I get to see the resumes of people who meet a minimum set of requirements. And I read the resume. But I skip over Objectives. Frankly its not that useful. If you are smart, you have tailored your objectives to my job description, but you might not be honest. Or your objectives may not match, but I may not be looking for a career building job. I decide based on the kinds of jobs you've taken in the past. You can tell me your objectives in the interview, if you get that far. Or the cover letter, which should explain why you think the job matches your skills and your desires for a job. I wouldn't say it never happens, but I've been around for a long time, and I have NEVER seen a situation where the manager hasn't seen the resume before the interview. James

Steven.Jones
Steven.Jones

The objective allows you to demonstrate your ability to communicate effectively. So many posts now include "strong written and verbal communication"... which is difficult to effectively demonstrate - the objective is a useful place to showcase your abilities. Everyone has different expectations of the body / bullet points of a resume and often do expect to see sentence fragments. The objective allows you to demonstrate your writing skills in addition to having an opportunity to include additional key words that my not be contained in the body. With this in mind, unless your writing is so awful that you can't demonstrate a clear and cohesive sentence, it makes sense to include it. Even if you (personally) can not demonstrate that but have someone else who can do it for you, it may just get you a call - so what's the harm?

jetoal
jetoal

How many times have others sat at a table, nervous enough with the interview process for a start, with a panel to interview you -and the first 20 minutes you sit there sweating it out whilst they go through your resume. Funnily, the first question they ask you, is "tell us a bit about yourself" !!! My God, they just read the bloody CV, lol. Then there is the regretable dear john letter, first word, second paragraph - unfortunately. Hang on there buddy, you say I do not meet the criteria, I beg to differ, I read the job ad and downloaded the criteria, you did'nt read my resume. Buzz words and catch phrases are for Googling, not looking for the ideal candidate. My 2 cents on a rather flimsy approach to recruitment in the 21st century. Jim Toal Melbourne, Australia

mckinnej
mckinnej

They're space filler in the contract world. Contractors only have two objectives: get the job and finish the job. Describing how you'd like to become CIO for a fast-paced, dynamic company is just a waste of space, which would be better utilized with more examples of why you should be hired.

jose.schmoe
jose.schmoe

I agree with all those who say it's not worth the 1's and 0's to write. As has been stated earlier, it's all filtered out by machines. And most importantly I don't know how many times I've walked into interviews and the manager is just looking at my CV for the first time. It appears someone gave him a list of candidates and was told "Go look at these guys". Write and objective statement? HA! IT's down there with writing a follow up thank you letter.

jim.cooper
jim.cooper

Online resumes for interview selection mean that anyone that does not input whatever the program is designed to select will not get an interview no matter how qualified they really are. The solution to the problem easy. Skip the online resume and concentrate on finding people who will introduce us to managers who need what we have. Happy job hunting!

tuomo
tuomo

Very true, in most cases I see today the first and sometimes even the second contact happens based on keywords or whatever a computer looks in resume. So the answer is really no. It really is weird and creates strange, if sometimes useful, contacts. It also tells me that they are not putting much effort to find the right person but just a person. And it gives a feeling that the position is not very important or maybe the same method is used on all levels in business - it could explain some things? An objective in resume may be interesting but also not a very good idea, objectives are not seen same way with all. What is interesting to someone, may be boring to someone else, etc. And even when facts based, as you would like to enhance or create something, are often seen more a warning sign by next level up - seems that you think we are not perfect so instead of doing what told you want to change it. i.e. not a good corporate citizen?

zyphlar
zyphlar

Even if that were true, that's no advice to be giving applicants. I threw away 80% of my last batch of resumes based on quality and content alone. The 20% that made the cut did so because they were relevant, clear, and concise. Formatting for its own sake is pointless, and writing to a machine rather than a person only gets you so far.

djed
djed

Most people realize how ridiculous they sound. But of the others, they either left a bad taste or none at all. You have to put yourself in the hirer's position when you review your resume.

burntfinger1
burntfinger1

unless you work for yourself you probably do work for that firm. The truth of the matter is that business decisions are made by people, people have emotions and many times emotion trumps common sense.

ernestm
ernestm

While I agree that I've never seen a hiring manager not have read the resume, I will say that sometimes "everyone else" isn't as well prepared. When we bring someone in for an in person interview, always after an hour long phone screen, we have a series of interviews with the team, other IT managers, and customer group managers. So of course in that situation not everyone has taken the time to read it beforehand, even though we certainly encourage them to.

trainingdept
trainingdept

In applying for any job I research the company first and then pick what company I would like to work at, just as managers screen resumes I screen prospective employers. I set my criteria and pick three companies at the most to send my resume to. I am 50 years old and learned this from my grandfather. I have never been turned down for an interview and NEVER NOT been hired for the job at a company I wanted to work for. I have had to be flexible with regard to pay or position but my assertiveness, knowledge and communiction skills have gotten me in the door and hired every time. I have been working since I was twelve and have never been unemployed. Henry

ginoclementi
ginoclementi

Most interviews I have been in, the first minute or so was the interviewer reading my resume. I even had one interview where it was the company owner interviewing me for a networking position, and then after seeing my resume told me all my work as a private consultant didn't count and I was completely unqualified for the job they called me to come interview for. So some rare few may, but in my experience, they don't.

Kdoyle
Kdoyle

I have HR send the resumes directly to me; they do no screening whatsoever. When I'm looking for technical qualifications how is someone in HR going to know what to look for? After I've gone through them I pass the ones I'm interested in along to either a development or network staff member to go through them further, because they're the ones who will be working with the candidate. As for objectives, I would rather see qualifications. Objectives only tell me what they want to do, not what they can do or have done. The rest of the resume should back up the qualifications.

rAllcorn
rAllcorn

You're a rare breed, I'll have to say James. I've been on several interviews where they are trying their best to "quick scan" my resume when I get into the interview room. But, alas, here in the U.S. we've forgotten a lot of the skills and kindnesses that made our nation great. Apparently, in Ontario, you still have some really good business practices and techniques. I'm impressed.

ross.linfoot
ross.linfoot

I ask the question - "Tell me about what you have done" - Yes it is in the resume - but by asking that question you can tell if the candidate just wrote the resume using buzzwords and a template - or really did the work ! It also takes the edge of the candidate as they are talking about something they should know about, hopefully. It is supprising when you see a skill in a resume - then ask the candidate to be specific on how they used it , and you get "ummm , err" .... next please. Yip they got in the door - but leave just as quick. You have to review the resume before even considering getting the candidate in for an interview , if you dont, then that says something about your management skills, and just wastes time.

kalwein
kalwein

Ten years ago I hired one young lady out of a batch of 18 candidates because of the thank you letter she wrote. The position was a Jr. Network Operations slot. After paring it down a bit, there ended up being a six way tie on skills, and we were down to reviewing personalities. Three lost on arrogance, without the appropriate skill set to back it up. The young lady broke the remaining tie by sending thank you letters to EACH of the interviewers. The letters were well written and recapped all the salient points of the interview. My call was that she was best qualified to interact with our important trading floor clients. I was right... Ten years later, she is now SVP in Engineering for the same major financial institution.

jmgarvin
jmgarvin

If you don't get through the door, you don't get to talk to the hiring manager. It's a sad fact of life that people put "hidden" keywords on their resumes now just to get past the filters. Hell, there are even key word tips so that you can make sure to get past the HR drones filters and into the hands of the hiring manager who can truly assess if you fit or not.

JamesRL
JamesRL

Tell me what you know about my company... That separates the people who just want a job, with anybody, from the people who cared enough to use google for 5 mins. I work for a division of a larger company - we aren't even close to being the biggest one. Bonus points if you know what my division does (and if you read the ad, you know the name of the division and you can google that too). If you walk in and don't know, then at least ask about what we do. Get an understanding of our business. James

alaniane
alaniane

What is your first question? I'm not seeking employment currently, but one can never tell what may happen in the future.

JamesRL
JamesRL

They haven't read it before. I've had openings where I received 400 resumes. I whittled it down to 20 top ones. I had some phone chats to whittle it down to 5 to interview. So I've read quite a few. And I scan yours quickly to make sure I recall what I was thinking when I selected yours for an interview. Now I don't take a minute. And my first question is never about something in the resume.... Be nice to me and I will tell you what I ask as the first question. James

JamesRL
JamesRL

But my company is predominantly US based. And their practises in the US are the same. James

gsteck
gsteck

Could be your opportunity to get noticed comes before even the cover letter. My daughter recently emailed a resume for a job she was after. After three days, she had received no call. She sent the resume again, but this time she put "Pick me, Pick me!" in the subject line of the email. She got a call the next day, and now has a great job for a company that's fun to work for.

rAllcorn
rAllcorn

We were discussing the fact that you have to "play the game" with the machines to even get on the LIST TO BE INTERVIEWED. I agree with you, though. Common courtesy and kindness are skills, along with good business management and "people-oriented" business styles, that have gone by the wayside. We're forgetting that these are "people" out there who are applying for these positions. Be thankful that you have a lot of applicants - you've got a crop to look through. But don't let a machine do it for you. Take the afternoon off. Grab a stack of resumes, go to Starbucks, and "read them" - personally. There are some wonderful people out there in the IT world, with creative ideas, and talents that you'd never expect. Furthermore you'll never even "know" unless you talk to these folks. You are not hiring the individual for their RESUME SKILLS. You're hiring them to work with your IT equipment. Don't penalize a candidate, whether directly or indirectly (by letting a computer do your selections), until you've had a chance to see their human side. It's the "human side" that you're going to be working with ... every day. THAT is what you've got to interface with and resolve whether they are a match for your company or not.