If Your Resumé Has An “Objective”, You’re Doing it Wrong

If Your Resumé Has An “Objective”, You’re Doing it Wrong


All right, let’s take care of this right now.

The first time I made a resumé was in junior high. In retrospect this seems a bit early, as my first legal job was still years away. But regardless of the timing, the first item of business was to write an “objective” at the top of the resumé.

Since I started working at Amazon, I’ve looked at many, many resumés. Often the candidates have been best-in-class professionals who were hired, or at worst got very good jobs elsewhere. These people did not find a need to put an “objective” on their resumé.

As I see it, there are three messages that an objective might reasonably convey, on a resumé:

  1. I would like to have this job, the one that I have applied for. This is like pulling into the drive-thru at Taco Bell and announcing loudly to the speaker box that you would like to procure some lunch. In short, we know this already.
  2. I would prefer to have a different job. I do not wish to hire you, then.
  3. I would like to have this job, and aspire to someday have a better job. This ought to be true for everybody, and is implied (see #1). Now that you mention it, though, if you legitimately have no aspirations beyond the job you’re applying for, it would be nice if you let me know. Perhaps by throwing your resumé directly into the garbage for me.

I flipped through some old resumés that crossed my desk and pulled the objectives off of a few of them. Mercifully, few had a stated objective (7.7%). It would be inappropriate to post exact resumé excerpts here, so I’ve paraphrased a few without changing the substance or feel:

Seeking an ambitious and challenging position with potential for growth.

This is, almost word-for-word, something a human being wrote on their resumé.

Currently seeking opportunities in the field of civil engineering.

This person was applying for a sales job.

Obtain a position where my positive outlook, professionalism, and dedication can be put to work at a successful company.

I’m not making these up, guys.

It seems like a small thing. But when you’re one of many people applying for a job, you might not want to be the one whose resumé looks like it was written by a seventh-grader.

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