Resume Objectives: Don’t Make This Critical Mistake

Wow! Could you imagine a resume objective that could be any less specific? But, as a professional resume writer, I can tell you that such a non-specific, general objective on a resume is more common than it is not. Even though including a resume objective is a piece of resume writing advice that was tossed nearly two decades ago, this is still one of the most frequent mistakes that I see people make on their resumes.

You’ve heard it before: you literally have seconds to capture the attention of the reader of your resume. Nine times out of ten, if they are reading your resume it is because they have a specific need for an individual to fill a specific position.

Your job is to IMMEDIATELY convey, in your resume opening statement, that YOU are that individual they are seeking.

With no more than a glance, the reader of your resume needs to know you are the person they are seeking.

For these reasons, the strategy of writing a “broad” or “general” resume will almost always fail.

But what if you wrote your resume objective so that it was more specific? Would that be better?

No, no, no.

This is the classic and common mistake of thinking that your resume is all about you.

It isn’t.

Your resume is about the employer, the employer’s needs, and how you are going to help the employer meet those needs.

No matter how you look at it, a resume objective is self-serving. Your goal is to turn this around and write an employer-centered resume.

Your future employer should see herself in your resume. Not only does she need to understand the focus of your resume that makes it aligned with the position she is seeking to fill. She also needs to come away from your resume understanding that you are the person who can solve her problems, help her tackle her challenges, and meet her goals.

The Modern Alternative to a Resume Objective

If you have been searching for resume objective ideas and are wondering how in the world you are going to achieve all of the above goals — focusing your resume AND conveying you are the candidate the employer seeks — without a resume objective statement at the top of the resume, right in the resume introduction. the solution is simple.

Create a resume profile section also known as a qualifications summary, executive profile, or professional summary.

The typical modern resume profile includes a headline statement that provides a crystal clear focus for your resume, making the old-fashioned resume objective statement unnecessary. But this is followed by a brief and hard-hitting summary of the most important and relevant skills you bring to the table, plus your most significant career accomplishments that prove them.

These summary profiles are critical – they are above the fold (this means they appear in the top 1/3 of your resume, where the eye tends to land first), they anchor the resume, and they entice the reader to continue reading and ultimate call you for an interview.

The best, most effective profiles provide an easy-to-read overview of your personal brand, your value, and your impact and provide proof of your performance by summarizing your accomplishments and results that will have the greatest meaning and value for your target.

Example of a modern resume profile

Example Resumes With Objective Statement Alternatives

Forget searching for a sample general objective statement. These two example resumes (we show the first page only, here) illustrate how to focus your resume without a resume objective. These are two different resumes written for the same person.

Instead of a resume objective statement, these sample resumes start with a headline and summary section, and the focus is clear. One of the resumes is to target sales management positions and the other is to target general management positions. Creating two resumes like this is a strategy you can use if you are having trouble narrowing down your career focus.

If you review these resume examples carefully, you will see how the focus of each was subtly shifted to emphasize the most important qualifications for each objective. The sales executive resume showcases revenue growth, profit growth, customer base growth, and similar metrics.

On the other hand, while the overall data is the same, the general manager resume focuses more on leadership skills and core management skills, and the accomplishments that prove them both.

This shift of focus was accomplished without a resume objective statement on either.

Resume Objective Examples
Resume Objective Examples

Make Sure Your Resume Stays Up To Date With Current Resume Standards

Resume writing best practices change continuously. It is important that your resume change with them. The general resume objective that you were taught to include on your resume when you were in school is now obsolete, but this is just an example of the many unintentional mistakes you may be making on your resume without knowing.

This is one of the key areas of value a professional resume writer can offer you. The best of the best among us (and that includes the entire team of Distinctive Career Services) continually work to update our knowledge by attending annual conferences and online workshops, joining and participating in professional associations for resume writers, studying and obtaining professional certifications, and more.

If it is time for you to update and modernize your resume, schedule a free resume writing consultation with us to learn more about how working with us can be of great value to you..

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This blog article about resume objectives was originally published on this blog in July 2010. It has since been updated for 2022 and republished.