Should Your Resume Include an Objective Statement?

The basic resume formula hasn’t changed much over the years: it includes your work experience, your education, and your most relevant skills and accomplishments. But the objective statement, which has sat at the top of resumes for decades, might have finally gone out of style.

Objective Statements Are Out

Objective statements waste recruiters’ time. Most hiring managers have a stack of resumes on their table, and they need to sort through applicants as quickly as possible. If you start your resume with a bland sentence about your aspirations, you’ll probably end up on the bottom of the pile.

The truth is that you don’t need to explain yourself on your resume. Recruiters don’t care how the job fits into your ten-year career plan or how you intend to grow your skills with a new professional experience. They also might not care if you’ve taken a few years off work or recently changed careers, because that information isn’t entirely relevant to the hiring process.

Instead, recruiters care about whether you’re ready to do the job at hand. They want to know if you have the right skills, and they’re wondering how much training you’ll need. Objective statements don’t answer either of these questions, which makes them effectively useless at the top of your resume.

When you submit a resume, the recruiter can safely assume you’re interested in the job and believe you’ll be an asset to the company. Your task is to use your resume and the hiring process to convince the recruiter that you’re a good fit for the position.

Summary Statements Are In

A summary statement is a sentence that explains why you’re a good fit for the job. Summary statements are different from objective statements because they don’t say why you’re applying – they just tell why you’re the right choice.

An example summary statement might be:

“Molecular biologist with 10 years experience. Registered patent agent.

Or:

“Talented system administrator who specializes in information security. Knows Java, Python, and C++.”

Both of these statements tell the recruiter that you have the skills they’re looking for. They summarize your resume and can ideally corroborate your work experience.

Summary Statement Tips

  • Keep it short. Recruiters don’t have time for long-winded explanations. Get to the point in one sentence or less. If you need more content, use bullets.
  • Highlight your talents. A summary statement should make your resume easier to skim. Point out your best features; the recruiter will keep reading if they want to know more.
  • Tell a story. Your summary statement is the perfect place to turn your career experience into a coherent narrative. Find the thread that ties your different jobs together, and use it as the fulcrum for your employment-seeking brand.

Getting to the Good Stuff

Summary statements are better than objective reports, but your best bet might be to skip the statement entirely. If the goal is to save the recruiter’s time, why not let your work experience speak for itself?

When you’re deciding whether to add a summary statement, think about the length of your resume. Summary statements are the right choice if you have a unique skillset or a career full of unusual jobs. However, if your skills are inherent to your previous positions, a summary statement might come across as repetitive or unnecessary.

If you decide to add a summary statement, skip the headline. Your resume will look sharper, and the recruiter’s attention will go to the points that matter most.

A resume is meant to share important hiring information and make your application look as good as possible. Objective and summary statements are simply tools to help get your message across. Include the sections that sell, and leave everything else for the interview; if you keep it snappy, you’ll end up with more calls than you expect.