Should My Executive Resume Contain an Objective Statement?

Executive Resume Objective Statement.jpg

Most executive resume writers and careers professionals would advise that a powerful summary or profile section supplant the dated, traditional “objective” statement. Particularly since most objectives are candidate oriented (what I want or need) versus employer oriented (what the employer wants or needs), the business-case style summary or profile is generally much preferred.

Hiring professionals vary widely in their preferences with regard to inclusion of an objective statement.

  • They are typically considered fluff by both recruiters and hiring managers. I believe this is justifiably so, since most are nothing more than fluff.

  • Some HR managers say they do like to see an objective statement because it makes matching your resume with available positions an easier task (but most executives are not going through HR, I hope).

  • Many recruiters prefer that an objective is not included, since it restricts the potential positions for which they can submit your credentials.

In addition to the self- versus other-oriented aspect of most objective statements, this potential for restricting your options is a major reason that I believe it is disadvantageous in most cases for an executive candidate to include this element in the resume.

Say, for example, you are a high caliber financial executive. Your experience and education may qualify you for any number of positions at different levels depending upon the size of the company. With a smaller or start-up company, you may be ideally suited for a CFO or VP Finance position, whereas at a Fortune 500 company, a Controller position at division level might be a realistic target. Stating your objective as “Controller” or “CFO” might cause your resume to be passed over in some instances when in reality the position would have been an excellent match!

Alternatively, there are situations where stating an objective is appropriate. This would be the case if:

  • You have a very specific target in mind,

  • This target would be the same regardless of company size, and

  • You would not consider any other opportunities under any circumstances.

One situation where it may be appropriate to use an objective is when the position targeted differs greatly from roles a candidate has held previously (significantly higher, lower, or in a different category altogether). In this instance, a good solution would be to lead with something like: Target Role: CEO, followed by a profile or summary that backs up how you are qualified for this role.

The critical element here is that, objective or no objective, the reader has a clear idea within 6 to 20 seconds of the types and levels of positions for which your qualifications are a potential match.

  • Do not include an objective specifying a position title unless you really would not consider any other opportunities.

  • Scrupulously avoid self-serving, uselessly broad objectives such as “A position offering opportunity for advancement and greater earning potential.”

  • If you do elect to include an objective statement, always couch your objective in terms which reflect the employer’s perspective; for example, “A challenging operations executive position offering the opportunity to drive growth through increased efficiency and enhanced customer service.”

And remember that you can always customize your cover letter to state an objective specific to the target company’s needs.

For more detailed information regarding strategies for writing your executive resume, see How to Write a Dynamite Executive Resume – With Samples. You can also view samples of executive resumes, executive bios, and cover letters here: Executive Resume Samples.