13 Jun 2015 20:17 IST

Why include career objective in your resumé?

Saying you want to “contribute to the organisation” is pointless as it's the basic premise of any job

Almost every resumé has a section at the start titled “Career Objective”. This, apparently, is based on advice and inputs from someone who is supposed to be knowledgeable about drafting resumés. My view is that this section is the worst thing that anyone can include in their resumé.

By itself, the section outlining one’s objectives is not really bad and might even be helpful. Unfortunately, in most cases, the section is poorly drafted and written using fancy jargon. The net result is a bombastic and meaningless statement that has no positive impact. It may even end up hurting the resumé in two important ways.

First, this section takes up space. And where an ideal resumé should not exceed one or a maximum of two pages, the career objective section eats up space without adding significant value. The second issue is that a poorly written objective will make the reader skip the resumé and move on to the next.

If at all you feel that this section needs to be included in your resumé, keep in mind the following guidelines:

Be Genuine: The objective must be genuine and have a ring of truth in it. The unfortunate reality of most resumés is that the person has no career plan. They just want to get a job with a “good” salary. More importantly, this is a fact that most recruiters know. In such a context, including a career objective which cannot be explained and is blatantly without any basis can only hurt the resumé.

For example, a statement like “contribute to the organisation” makes no sense. The fundamental premise of any job is that you will be paid for contributing to the organisation. Stating this as a career objective is stating the obvious.

Be Specific: Objectives, by definition, should be clear and specific. Anything which is generic and very broadly defined is, at best, a wish. So, if you want to include a career objective, be specific with regard to the time-frame and what you expect to achieve. The specifics should include what you hope to gain and, in return, what you would do. Therefore, any objective has to be very specific to the job being applied for and cannot be a generic feel-good statement.

Be Realistic: Even in leadership roles, a person has a limited span of control and can influence only a few elements in the organisation. By the same logic, a fresher or someone with a few years of experience has a much smaller sphere of influence. This obvious reality is ignored by the majority when writing their career objective.

The objectives I have seen in resumés range from wanting to be a part of strategic decisions to helping the organisation grow and succeed. Is that even practical, especially for someone with a few years of experience and who is still at the start of the learning curve?

I would reiterate that one should leave out the career objective for the reasons mentioned above. If at all you feel compelled to include this section, don’t make it a joke.

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