Should I Include an Objective on My Technical Resume?

In my technical resume service, I hear this question a lot. The fact is, there was a time when common wisdom dictated listing your employment goals at the top of your resume. However, over the past couple of decades, the objective has gradually devolved from being a vital resume component to being antiquated and hopelessly outdated -- particularly in the ways that most people incorporate them.

Resume-Objectives
Resume-Objectives

The problem with resume objectives is that they tend to fall into one of three categories:

  • Generic and bland. If an objective doesn't add anything compelling to your resume, then it's just wasting space. You don't need to tell your prospective employers that looking "to secure a position with a well-established organization where I can apply my skills and experience." Odds are, they'll be able to piece that together for themselves.
  • Inappropriate. If your objective states you're looking for a "job in website development" when you're actually applying for a tech writing position, it's going to hurt your chances considerably. At best, your prospective employers will assume that you're inattentive. At worst, they'll think you're simply blasting your resume out indiscriminately.
  • Self-absorbed. Objectives tend to be about what you want. "A position that will allow me to develop my programming skills," or "A job with plenty of opportunity for advancement." During the initial screening stage, employers aren't really interested in what you want. They're far more concerned about what the company wants, and whether or not you'll be able to provide it.

My Recommendation?

I would personally recommend leaving the objective off of your resume, particularly if you're not customizing the resume for each position for which you are applying. If you feel you must include some information about your employment goals, save it for the cover letter (and make sure that letter is specifically tailored to the position for which you're applying).

A good resume is so much more than just a list of personal data. It needs to tell a compelling story about you to your prospective employers. Your resume should ably demonstrate that you have the experience and commitment necessary to address the business's objectives, rather than focusing on your own.

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