As a technology professional, you're used to tweaking your IT resume to ensure it resonates with hiring managers. But should you include an objective statement in your resume? In almost every case, the answer is no.
“A resume objective is typically unnecessary and can actually limit a candidate’s ability to get placed in a job,” says Refawne Acarregui, Robert Half Technology Division Director in Seattle.
Resume objectives appear old-fashioned
Include a resume objective and you may seem outdated to hiring managers. Not to mention, the resume objective takes up valuable real estate at the top of your resume – space that could instead be dedicated to listing the skills and experience (the "professional experience" section of your resume) that make you a great fit for a job. Hiring managers often have very little time to review a candidate’s resume, and if they don’t see the skills they’re looking for right away, they may just move onto the next candidate.
A vague resume objective (“IT pro seeking a job at a dynamic company where I can grow.”) can appear impersonal to hiring managers. They’ll likely wonder if you sent out 50 other resumes with the same objective. Resume objectives also tend to focus on what a job seeker is looking for in a company and position when most hiring managers want to see right away what you can bring to the job.
Summary statements aren’t typically necessary either
Many job seekers are replacing the objective statement with a resume summary, which is more focused on the specific experience and skills a candidate brings to the position. Take a look at the summary statements on LinkedIn and you get the idea, although a summary statement on a resume would be much shorter – under 50 words, preferably, since there’s limited space.
Acarregui says that while a summary statement is fine, and better than a resume objective, it usually seems like filler: "It's sort of like writing a paper in college and using a larger font and double-spaces to fill up more pages."
A few exceptions
Here are a few instances when a resume objective or summary could be helpful, however: If you’re going through a career transition or you’re a recent graduate. If most of your experience is in business, but you’ve spent the last year or two taking classes in your spare time as you transition to web development, most of your resume is going to reflect your business experience.
In a case like this, highlighting your more recent programming skills and the languages you know, as well as any transferable skills (managing a team, for example), at the top of your resume makes sense.
Recent graduates might face the same challenge of limited experience and want to clarify what they have to offer right away at the top of a resume. You could also use a cover letter for these purposes, although you aren’t always able to submit one along with your resume.
The bottom line? “A resume generally speaks clearly about a candidate’s background and fit for a job,” says Acarregui.
So in most cases, you can lose the resume objective and resume summary statement. Instead, focus on creating an IT resume tailored to each job you apply for – make sure you echo the skills and experience mentioned in the job description (only if you have them!), and you’ll increase your chances of getting the first interview.