Recently, I came across an article online mentioning that including an Objective line in a résumé is a no-no. I say an Objective is a necessary compromise and will tell you why.
* Is there a need for one?
* What are some examples?
* The risk is worth it!
* What happens if I don't list one?
* What if I'm not looking for a job right now?
* The Bottom Line.
Is there a need for one?
If you're a recuiter screening hundreds of résumés per day, the last thing you want is to try and decipher which position someone's applying for. The Objective tells the recruiter exactly that in one brief sentence.
I still don't get why I should include one. Shouldn't they just read my cover letter and look through my full résumé?
In a perfect world, they would. In this world, a recruiter's priority is to fill an existing or upcoming opening, not delve deeply into random résumés and try to place each well-meaning candidate in their dream job (that's why the universe invented headhunters). They simply don't have the time and need to quickly surmise if you're a good fit for the role (their Objective).
What are some examples?
* Seeking a position as a (Job Title) with (Company Name).
* Seeking a position as a (Job Title) with (Company Name) where I may bring/leverage my (Key Job Skills) experience.
* Seeking an opportunity as a (Job Title) where I may leverage my (current/previous key job skills).
o Seeking an opportunity to apply my Missions Operations experience to Systems Simulations.
o Seeking an opportunity to transition my HR Generalist experience to a Benefits Specialist role.
The risk is worth it!
What if my Objective has me pigeon-holed and they won't consider me for another position they have?
Not necessarily! Yes, having an Objective runs that risk; you can only get away with applying to around two identical or related positions. It's most beneficial to list your first choice position in your Objective. Do not despair. If they have something similar that they think you would fit in, they often contact you to see if you're still interested, or, they might wish to hedge their bets and have you as a back-up, should their first choice decline/fall through.
Moreover, listing a Summary of Skills paragraph (aka Shrunken Cover Letter) in place of an Objective doesn't always clarify for the recruiter what you want. You could be a Sr. Network/Systems Administrator with over 15 years' experience, and just listing that doesn't tell the reader what you're looking to do next! Are you looking for a promotion? Same job, new company, etc.?
Some employers and recruiters actually love the challenge of wooing a great candidate to a slightly different position than to one they applied for. Tooting my own horn a bit, I've had a hiring manager change my position to accommodate me, based on the skills set I was bringing to the role. Furthermore, this can give you salary leverage, since it becomes a case of you helping them out by filling a much-needed vacancy.
The Bottom Line
Companies & recruiters are becoming savvier and need to wrangle a clear Objective out of you fast. The employer wants to trust that the position they're considering offering you is one you really want and one they clearly see you having a purpose occupying.
You need to bite the bullet and list clearly what you're looking for. This also helps deter frustrating junk calls from bullpen recruiting & staffing companies.