should recent grads have a resume objective?

by Ask a Manager on June 4, 2011

A reader writes:

I am well aware that you do not like resume objectives. However, I read on numerous websites and blogs that you should only include a resume objective if you are a recent graduate or changing careers. Do you agree or disagree with that statement?

With that being said, I fall into the category of recent graduate. I think its ok to use one if it’s written for that specific company and position. I customize each objective for every specific company and position that I apply to directly on their website. How does this sound for an objective? I’m going to include the actual name of the company so you know what I mean.

Research assistant position at Boston Biochem where excellent laboratory and technical skills can aid the company in its commitment to providing its customers with quality Ubiquitin Proteosome Pathway products.

Get rid of it.

What exactly does that add to your candidacy?  They already know what position you’re applying for, and they already know that they (apparently) have a commitment to providing customers with quality Ubiquitin Protesome Pathway products.

So you’re basically just using up valuable resume real estate restating the obvious, and also making yourself look kind of blah in the process.

As for the advice you’ve seen saying that recent grads might benefit from including an objective: Well, first, that advice sucks. But secondly, I’m guessing that they’re saying that because recent grads generally don’t have enough of a career history to make their job search objective inherently clear. But an objective that just says that your objective is to get the position you’re applying for? Believe me, that’s already been made clear by the fact that you’re applying.

Your resume should be a concise, easily scannable account of what you’ve accomplished, organized chronologically by position, plus any particularly notable skills. That’s it. Get rid of the objective.

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{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Laura June 4, 2011 at 9:27 pm

I completely agree with the fact that objectives are generally useless and also, that this one seems to be useless. I also like the idea that your resume should be concise and easily scannable, mainly because that’s how my resume is. I actually have a small section that is comparable to the objective section… In my resume right after my name and contact info I included the following.

PROFILE: A responsible university student looking for part-time employment close to home. Interested in broadening my experience working with people.

It’s not the same as an objective, because it really just briefly describes me currently so that my situation is known to a potential employer. The rest of my resume is very brief and short as well because all the positions I’ve worked at this point, in my life are entry level. There’s no point exaggerating things, your potential employer will figure out that ‘sanitation engineer’ means garbage collector. With respect to this situation, I would consider maybe including a profile as opposed to an objective. As a recent grad you more than likely have space on your resume to spare. Just one or two lines to describe yourself as you are in your current situation. Although from the date of schooling it will be obvious that you’re a recent grad but maybe a some thing like this:

Profile: A recent graduate excited to be a part of research. Interested in expanding my technical and laboratory skills.

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Amanda June 5, 2011 at 8:47 am

I disagree. In both instances, the profiles you gave are redundant. How are either profiles giving the, employer any new and meaningful information?

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Amanda June 5, 2011 at 8:48 am

Sorry, errant comma!

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Esra June 5, 2011 at 10:35 am

Would that information not be in your cover letter anyway?

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Nate June 4, 2011 at 11:26 pm

Maybe if the objective were to fill a purpose not already mentioned in the resume, it would be useful. For instance, maybe there’s chances where a person does not have the benefit of submitting a cover letter (as with some job submissions), an applicant could potentially use that spot for serving that particular purpose.

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Drew June 5, 2011 at 9:03 am

This advice could have been put in a much nicer way. UNNECESSARILY bitchy — no wonder why women get paid less than men.

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Mike C. June 5, 2011 at 11:55 am

Ah yes, do women only deserve parity wages when they dress up all pretty for you and don’t talk back and bring you your coffee?

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Ask a Manager June 5, 2011 at 12:29 pm

Yes, Drew, that must be why!

Seriously, if you want sugarcoated advice, this isn’t the place.

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Anonymous June 5, 2011 at 10:24 am

Dearest Drew,

Men get paid more than women because even though some can be complete assholes, only women can be “bitchy”. Therefore, all women deserve to be paid less.

Logic FAIL.

You must be a peach to work with. I am glad you don’t work with this *BITCH*.

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Phideaux June 5, 2011 at 10:47 am

I’ve never used the Objective on any resume I’ve ever done, despite the advice to do so and dire warnings of never finding a job if I didn’t. It just seems kind of pointless to me stating that your goal is to find a job. As has been pointed out, the fact that you’ve sent a resume should make that clear.

However, I do know someone who says that when he’s hiring, if the resume doesn’t have the Objective front and center, he rejects it. He claims it’s a good way of weeding out the ones he probably wouldn’t want to hire anyway, because if someone can’t or won’t make their purpose clear then they probably wouldn’t be a good hire. Dumb, I know and no doubt he’s passed up a lot of great candidates in order to get to the cut and paste, blah non-thinkers that he seems to get stuck with.

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ImpassionedPlatypi June 5, 2011 at 11:11 am

Drew, Alison has every right to be bitchy when giving advice here if she feels like it. This is her site. And the extremely mild bitchiness in this response (so mild in fact that it did not register at all as bitchy when I first read it) is completely necessary. The person whose question she is answering obviously knows what Alison’s viewpoint is on the subject of objectives on resumes. They say so in the first sentence. So why waste her time with a question about them? The person asking this question is basically saying, “I know you don’t like resume objectives and that you’ve stated multiple times in response to multiple circumstances that they are a stupid, stupid idea, but could you make an exception just this once and tell me that what I’m doing isn’t stupid.” It’s insulting. I personally would probably have just sent the person an email reply and chosen a different question to post on the blog, but I can see how maybe by posting yet another consistent answer to the question of objectives she’s hoping that her sage advice about them will sink in and people will just stop asking about them (or, even more preferably, stop using them).

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Nate June 5, 2011 at 2:38 pm

I think he’s just trolling.

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Ask an Advisor June 6, 2011 at 4:07 pm

For the recent grads out there like the OP, there is likely so much more you have probably done that will standout much more on your resume than an objective.

In addition to entry-level positions, relevant class projects, course work, internships, volunteer activities, campus involvement, leadership position, and research projects are all fair game for your resume. I always advise students to get rid of the objective and look beyond their paid experiences to develop a stronger resume.

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Heather June 8, 2011 at 10:44 am

Although I agree that old-fashioned objective paragraphs should never be used, I think it’s helpful to have a resume title in case the resume is given to a manager who is hiring for multiple positions, might be separated from the cover letter, or is given to a networking contact . In the OP’s case, this title would be “Research Assistant”. The rest of the resume would then describe the accomplishments and education he has that prove he has the skills to be an awesome research assistant.

Laura, I think your profile example is a little misguided. It’s written in terms of what you want, not what you can offer an employer. Something like “Responsible college student with customer service experience, willing to work part-time” might be better.

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Robert Green September 2, 2011 at 9:24 am

Resume objectives are not used any longer. There is a much better way to accomplish the “objective” of a resume objective. When a resume opens up and an objective statement is present it makes the resume appear outdated or entry level.

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Anonymous September 15, 2012 at 2:30 am

Is it necessary to have the position title and requisition number on the resume? I use my Objective section to state the position title and requisition number. Does it make a difference if these are not on the resume?

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Ask a Manager September 15, 2012 at 11:07 am

100% unnecessary! And it’s better not to have one at all.

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Ian November 26, 2012 at 7:46 pm

do you people even get hired anywhere? Or do you just post online how Objectives are not needed because you have so much free time? I am an electrical apprentice, I was trained by a very educated business man who taught me resumes for the “real world” and he told me to have an objective for each employer. It’s so they know that your not just sending out resumes to every company in the world, and that your interested in THEM particularly. Everyone has egos. And by the way, I got hired 4 days out of my school/practicum, where some people sit on their butts for months

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Ask a Manager November 26, 2012 at 8:27 pm

Dude, just because one guy gave you that advice and you got hired does not make it generally good advice. You show interest in that particular job through the cover letter. Objectives are really dated these days and not useful.

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