I get asked this question at least once a week – “What do you think about objective statements?”

What I think isn’t important. What the reader of your resume thinks … that’s what’s critical.

Objective statements became a standard part of traditional resumes when there were candidate shortages. When there were candidate shortages, it was common for a job seeker to have multiple job offers to choose between. Objective statements help employers sell themselves as the preferred workplace to win the candidate.

Objective statements allowed the job seeker to communicate to the employer what he/she wanted from a next career move. Candidates could use objective statements to tell potential employers “this is what I want.”

What changed?

Two major changes rendered objective statements ineffective:

  • Job shortages replaced candidate shortages
  • Proliferation of Applicant Tracking Systems

Job Shortages

Now that there are job shortages, employers no longer care what you want, until they are ready to make you an offer. Instead, employers care about what you can do for them – what kind of value you can provide to the employer.

Since an objective statement is at the top of your resume, it creates or at least effects your personal brand. When you start off your resume with an objective statement, you brand yourself as interested in your wants, rather than the employer’s needs. Today’s effective resume isn’t about the candidate … it’s about the employer. Simply put, objective statements aren’t about the employer.

Applicant Tracking Systems

Now, nearly every employer uses some sort of Applicant Tracking System to pre-screen and evaluate resumes – whether part of a multi-million dollar enterprise system or just the most basic functions found in Microsoft Office. ATSs have changed how resume readers decide which candidates get interviews vs which candidates get discarded.

The proliferation of ATSs means that almost every reader first sees your resume digitally, on screen. Your resume looks very different when viewed on screen than it does on paper – because only the top half of your resume is seen on screen. Since resume readers make a qualified/non-qualified decision in an average 6 seconds and an interview/non-interview decision in an average 15 seconds, the first impression your resume makes is critical.

What impression does your resume make when the first thing a reader sees is what you want?

Do you think you’d make a stronger first impression by showing the employer why you’re a superior candidate? How about showing the employer what kind of value you can provide to them?

Think about it … if you were the employer, which would you choose? A candidate that starts out by describing what they want? Or would you choose a candidate that started their resume by telling you what they can do to help you?

… and that, my friends, is why objective statements aren’t effective any longer.