We saw this question on Info Career Trends and couldn’t help but chime in with our thoughts on this often misunderstood and poorly interpreted resume addition.
Personally, I believe that objective statements are completely unnecessary, and that career goals and objectives can be conveyed better, and more prolifically, as part of the cover letter. I’ve read plenty of resumes and sat on many search committees over the years, and I’ve never read a good or memorable objective statement. Most of the ones I see say something like: “To work in an academic library as a reference librarian,” and the person is applying for a reference position, in an academic library (go figure). Or, there are the few that don’t relate to the position at all. A mistake by the candidate, yes, but it certainly makes it easier for the search committee to disqualify the person.
To be kind to the people who use them and like them, I think objective statements can be very difficult to write because many people may not have a clear-cut career objective that can be succinctly and narrowly summarized, and so they usually end up recycling the job title. This is not helpful to an interviewer, or potential employer. It is – or should be – obvious that once you apply for a position, you actually want to be in that position (unnecessary overkill to restate that in an objective statement). If I had to write mine, it would probably be something like this:
Objective Statement: I am seeking a position that will motivate me to constantly learn new skills; a position in a forward thinking and flexible environment, with a supportive director who will allow me to use my own judgment and initiative in as many ways possible.
A little vague, perhaps; a little bold, definitely — but better than repeating the job description. And yet somehow, I don’t really think that a potential employer would want to see this on a resume. If you feel strongly that you want to have something else on your resume, something enticing that will sum up information for potential employers, you should consider an alternative such as a qualification summary or summary statement. Qualification summaries allow you to summarize your skills and experience for the job at hand, and (in a few words) let potential employers know how you can benefit them, rather than an objective statement that can potentially harm your chances for that interview. For more information about qualification summaries, here are some useful sites:
Effective Resumes: An ‘Objective’ Debate (Yahoo! HotJobs Exclusive by Erin Hovanec)
At-homeworks.com (Step 3: Qualification Summary & Skill Set)
University of Minnesota’s Office of Human Resources (Profile or Summary of Qualifications)
What do you think? If you are applying for positions, do you use either objective statements or qualification summaries? If you are interviewing, what is your opinion of these resume additions?
2 thoughts on “Q: Objective Statements – Necessary or Unnecessary?”
You make a good point against objective statements, but I don’t think they are unneccessary, for two reasons. One, recent or soon-to-be library school graduates don’t necessary have the experience that makes the qualification summary or summary statement effective. I agree that if one uses an objective statement it should be well-crafted and eye-catching.
That leads me to my second reason for liking objective statements: they break up otherwise vanilla resumes. Having sat on many academic librarian search committees requiring me to look over 30-40 resumes each time, I admit that it’s appealing to the eyes and mind to read something else about a candidate than just their education, work experience, skills, and associations. Most, if not all, resumes will have those categories or something simliar, so why not add something that will standout a bit? As a potential colleague to the person applying for the position, I care more about their purpose for applying for the position no matter how trivial than how many years they’ve been a member of ALA or ACRL. Granted, a good cover letter will address the reason a person is applying for the job, and I think having a good objective statement will reinforce that reason.
I’ve never encountered an objective statement that reduced a candidate’s chances for an interview. If anything, it’s usually a poorly written cover letter that sends up the red flags.