A question that I am often asked is whether or not you should include an objective section in your resume. Personally, I am not a fan of including an objective. You might have heard me say before that it seems a little redundant. Most of the time, your objective is to get the role that you are applying for. There are some cases, however, when an objective section in your resume can help to communicate your story to a potential employer. These cases usually revolve around change.
What do I mean by this?
Well, if your circumstances are changing, the objective section in your resume can explain the change to your potential employer. Perhaps you want to discuss the reasons for your change or provide some other piece of convincing information that will help someone to make a decision; the decision that you are worth contacting for an interview.
What sort of changes could this be?
The options are endless. But in this post, I'm outlining a few of the most common situations. I'll also provide a few tips for each about how you might want to structure your objective statement.
1. Change of career direction
A change of career direction or industry is the top reason I would consider including an objective section in your resume. Why? Because usually it requires some kind of explanation. If you don’t provide this, potential employers may be left wondering. Or, they could even be turned off because you don’t seem to have relevant experience.
If you are making a significant change to your career direction or are planning to change industries, the first thing you should do in your objective is to acknowledge this and perhaps explain what has prompted the change. You should then follow up by reiterating the transferrable skills that you have and the reasons that you are suitable for the role, despite not having directly relevant experience.
As you can see, the majority of my experience has been within pharmaceutical sales. Although I have found this to be a rewarding career path, I have decided to make a change and pursue opportunities within the construction sales industry. I made this decision after attending the XYZ Construction Sales conference, where I gained insights into the industry and its practices. Although I do not have direct experience in construction sales, I am confident that with my exceptional client management skills, proven ability to meet and exceed sales targets and my keen willingness to learn, I will be able to make the change quickly and effectively.
2. Joining the workforce
New to the workforce? An objective section in your resume can give your potential employers some insight into your career plan. This is helpful for convincing them that you aren’t just trying to nab any job that comes your way. You are specifically interested in what they have to offer.
When you are new to the workforce, you need to consider what you can bring to a company. Do you have qualifications or skills learned through study? Have you got any volunteer experience? What is the reason you are interested in working for this company?
I am seeking an entry level opportunity within an IT service desk environment. Although I am new to the workforce, I am committed to a long-term career in the IT industry. This is supported by my recent completion of my Certificate III in Information Technology. During completion of this qualification I had the opportunity to think about my future in the industry. I feel that I would be well-suited to a service desk position where I can further develop my knowledge and prove my excellent customer service skills.
Not sure whether to include an objective section in your resume? This post will clear it up!
3. Returning to the workforce
When you have been out of the workforce for an extended period of time, it can leave employers wondering why. Have you been looking for work all that time? Why has nobody hired you? Why have you not been working for the past few years?
In some cases, it could be that you have been looking for work for some time. However, most of the time, significant gaps like this have another explanation, such as maternity leave, taking care of children or sick family members, studying or travelling. In these cases, I would suggest including an objective section in your resume to provide a little bit of a back story. You can also indicate what type of work you are seeking. Are you planning to return full time or are you looking for part-time or casual work?
You also might want to take the opportunity to reassure your potential employer that you are ready to return to the workforce and that you are committed to updating any qualifications or learnings that might be necessary to your field. You can either, update them and confirm this in your objective or mention that this is in progress.
Over the past few years I have been a stay at home mother, taking care of my three children. As my children are now commencing school, I am looking for opportunities to return to the workforce on a part-time basis. I am particularly interested in bookkeeping opportunities, and have maintained my interest and expertise in this area, through informal study and occasional freelance work. I am thoroughly looking forward to the chance to challenge myself intellectually and work in a dynamic team environment after this break in my career.
4. Looking for a different type of work
Are you studying and for that reason, only looking for part time work? Maybe you're looking for a casual job in addition to your full time job, so that you can boost your income or gain a different type of experience? Are you looking for graduate, volunteer, internship or holiday work? If the answer is yes, it might help to include an objective section in your resume to explain this.
If you are an accountant by trade applying for a shelf packing position at your local supermarket, this might seem a little strange. But if you explain that you are looking for a casual role to increase your income, your story is more understandable. Perhaps you are a full time student and you are only looking for a casual or short-term position over the Christmas holidays. If so, you should outline that in your objective.
I am currently completing a Bachelor of Laws at the Pop Your Career University and I am looking for a casual role that will complement my studies. In the first year of my degree, I studied several units in criminal law and have found that this is an area that I am extremely passionate about. I feel that with my growing understanding of criminal law and my sincere interest in the field, I could be a great asset to your firm, both now and in the future as I complete more of my studies.
5. Changing locations (moving interstate or overseas)
If you are changing locations and moving interstate or overseas, it can help to include some details about this in your resume and the objective section is the perfect place to do this. Sometimes if an employer can see from your application that you live far away, they might discount you at first. This can be through fear of a long, drawn out process and a start date well into the future. But if you already have a move date set, have family in the new location that you can stay with until you get set up or are flexible in terms of your availability, this might alleviate those concerns and could help you get a foot in the door.
Here are some other useful details that you might like to include in your objective if you are changing locations:
- The date you plan to move to the new location or the amount of time it would take you to move if you were successful in securing the role (eg. 2 weeks).
- Why you are planning to move to that specific location. Candidates can be more appealing if they have a good reason to move somewhere or some kind of “roots”. (Eg. You have family there, your partner has been transferred, you grew up there and you are moving home etc.).
- If you are available to travel for interviews and/or any specific dates that you might already be planning to be in town when you would be available for interview. Specifics like this could always be included in your cover letter as well. But it can’t hurt to mention it in your objective.
- If you have the relevant work permissions (visas etc) to work in the location you are applying for or if you are requiring sponsorship. Let’s face it, it is best to provide this information up front and if you already have work rights this could work in your favour (but may be assumed incorrectly if you don’t mention it).
Have you included an objective section in your resume? Do you see value in the extra opportunity to tell a potential employer about your changing circumstances? Let me know in the comments!