Is Your ‘Career Objective’ a Trap? [Guest Post]

Guest ColumnI might go to my death wondering what cosmic force compels people to write bad resume objectives.  Maybe I’m an oddity, but I really do get excited about a well-written, clear and concise resume, sans all the  blah, blah, blah that we’ve come to accept as a perfectly fine way to present our professional selves.

That said, those bulleted Objectives at the top of most resumes make me cringe. They’re the equivalent of American Cheese: They’re there, but not very tasty.   At the beginning of a resume, my desire is to bite into the real meat of a professional profile but most Resume Objectives leave me wondering, “Wait, what?”

The biggest problem is that Resume Objectives are actually highly subjective. In some cases, they actually force me to defend the resume to the hiring manager.  Managers will ask me, “Is this person really going to be interested in this job? Their objective states clearly they’re interested in something else.”   I know the person is interested and can do the job, but those objectives — they just get in the way.

Would you ever walk into an Apple Store and ask them to sell you a Dell? Of course you wouldn’t. But you could end up doing essentially that if you write your resume with too specific a “job order” in mind. In other words, if you’ve settled on a Mac, go to the Apple Store. If all you know is you want a new laptop, consider Best Buy.

As a recruiter, and having read literally tens of thousands of resumes, I can attest that being too specific in your objectives can limit how you’re viewed and which managers end up with your name on their short list. I receive resumes all the time with objectives like, “Seeking a Technical Lead role for a global delivery team.” What if I’ve already filled that Technical Lead role? Does this mean you don’t want to talk about the Technical Architect job I have available? What about the Technical Program Director position on the geographically dispersed team here in the United States?  You’re not interested in that?  Of course you are — you just didn’t realize that your resume objectives were going to be filtered differently than you intended. And therein lies the problem: You just never know where your resume might end up.

Next time you revamp your resume, take a closer look at your objectives.  What positions have you limited yourself to?  Are you really sure you want to cast your order for a job when you don’t know what job I might be selling? From a recruiter’s and manager’s perspective, listed objectives are often wasted space, and you might be putting yourself at risk of shopping the wrong jargon and title. It is perfectly fine to jump right into the meat of your resume with a summary of your skills and professional history. I know you’ll be relieved not to have to craft all the cheesy, fluffy, blah blah blah. And  recruiters and managers will be delighted to look at your skills with objectivity in mind.

Jennifer FaulknerJennifer Love Faulkner is a seasoned Employment Specialist with 17 years of experience in recruitment, workforce development and training.  As a career coach and speaker, her specialties are candidate relationships and no-nonsense communication.   In addition to being a full-time role as a Corporate Recruiter at CGI, Jennifer and husband Brandon support their son’s comic book habit, keep his power cords straight and often hatch Dragons with him in DragonVale.  Her postings on Dice represent her own opinions and do not necessarily represent CGI’s strategies, views or opinions.

6 Responses to “Is Your ‘Career Objective’ a Trap? [Guest Post]”

    • Albert

      Agreed. I have recently reviewed a large amount of advice for resumes, all sources indicate that the objective is no longer standard. It should be removed entirely, or replaced with a short “professional summary”.

      • janetsteward

        I don’t agree with you Albert that “objective is no longer standard”.
        But what I think along with writing the skills , it is important to write a perfect resume objective. This would create a good impression on potential employer and also it will show your dedication and interest for the respective job position.

        Thanks & Regards,
        Janet Steward

  1. Dick J

    This article has convinced me of the importance of including the objective in my resume. Why? Because I WANT the hiring manager to filter me out for inappropriate positions. Sure, if you just want a job, any job, by all means leave the objective off. But if the objective provides the opportunity to save both me and the hiring manager time by eliminating matches that will not work out, we are both ahead.
    For example, I do real time embedded work. Part of any product assignment is usability, and some embedded projects have a UI so UI skills are on my resume. But many times I have found a hiring manager ignore the objective and waste both of our efforts and contact me about a great pure UI job that I would like. Sorry, but if the hiring manager had paid attention to the objective in my resume, he or she would have realized that that was not what I was looking for.
    So unless you are just out of school and are looking for a generic opportunity, I would elect to keep the concisely written and accurate objective in the resume.

    • Dick – I agree completely with your comment. Since you are so specific in the job you desire – you can certainly eliminate certain unproductive interviews by listing a very narrow objective. For your skill set – just about every role title includes the words “embedded engineer” or “embedded developer” etc.

      Thanks for the feedback – and don’t forget – even if you don’t want a particular job – take every opportunity to network because an embedded engineering role may very well be the firms next need.

      Jen (the author of the post)

  2. For a successful resume, you have to be precise. Indistinct objectives
    provide employers the feeling that you do not have straightforward
    career targets. Therefore, it is vital to be interesting but in
    moderation. Do not forget that your career objective is your chance to
    promote yourself to a potential boss. Consequently, the objective
    should be clear, positive, and undeviating to the position to raise
    your possibilities of being hired.