The Post Academic Resume Series: Do You Need a Resume Objective?
This post is the first in a series on putting your resume together. If you have had a CV, you might not remember the resume format and you might have trouble boiling your academic work into bullet points. We can help. Let’s start with the tricky Resume Objective.
The “resume objective” is a brief statement at the top of your resume in which you declare your intentions to a prospective employer. They usually read like this: “To work as an Algebra teacher at a public high school,” “To apply my skills as a Webmaster to a small nonprofit agency,” and “To convince people with low incomes to buy homes they can’t afford using adjustable-rate mortgages.” You get my drift.
But are resume objectives really necessary? They take up space, and they often sound like hot air because the real objective of most people is “To get a job. Any job.”
A resume objective is useful for only two types of people: those just out of college and those who are changing careers. Otherwise, your work experience will make clear why you are applying for a certain job.
More after the jump! Amelita Galli-Curci seated at desk using typewritter, dressed in fur coat and hat. From Wikimedia Commons with the following statement: “This is a press photograph from the George Grantham Bain collection, which was purchased by the Library of Congress in 1948. According to the library, there are no known restrictions on the use of these photos.”
Since career changers often need objectives, you might need one if you are trying to find a job outside of academia. A resume objective states what you’re looking for, and then your work experience should back it up.
First, figure out if you really need a resume objective. If your work experience indicates you have a special skill that suits the job you’re applying for, then skip it. I’ve never used a resume objective in my entire career, and I still get interviews.
Second, if you think you need a resume objective, tailor the objective to the job posting. The objective should also indicate what skill you have that will work for the job. If you were a PhD in English lit and you want to be a copy editor for textbooks, then you will write “To apply my knowledge of multiple editorial styles, including MLA and Chicago, to the field of textbook publishing.” Then you need to make sure that you mention knowledge of MLA style and the Chicago Manual of Style somewhere in your work experience or skill set.
In the end, if your resume objective sounds like BS to you, it will sound like BS to a potential employer, and you’ll be better off not writing one at all.