Three Modern Alternatives to a Resume Objective


Of all the great debates among job-seekers, recruiters, and would-be resume pundits (we’re looking at you Uncle Steve), few topics garner as much argument as the much-maligned resume objective.  For those of you who have managed to avoid the commentary, a resume objective is sometimes used as an opening parlay to your professional CV and takes the form of one to three sentences designed to tell the reader just what you’re looking for by sending out that there piece of paper.

The problem with a resume objective according to opponents, is that it’s based on an outdated mode of thinking about job applications.  In addition, that abbreviated paragraph still takes up quite a bit of valuable resume space and is arguably redundant given the fact that the information is already included in other parts of your resume.  That doesn’t mean, however, that an introduction to your candidacy should be thrown out with the bathwater. If you’re looking to replace an existing resume objective, or simply want to explore modern best practices to include instead, we’ve come up with three modern alternatives to help bring your work history into the 21st century.

The Key Accomplishments Wrap Up

If you’ve reached the point in your educational or professional career where you’re able to toot your own horn, instead of a resume objective you may want to consider providing a highlight reel of some of your best and brightest accomplishments.  Did you launch a project that increased revenues or efficiency? Perhaps you successfully rolled out a new initiative? Or maybe you just have a track record of increasing sales year over year, no matter your position.

If any of the above sound familiar, try opening your resume with a wrap up of these key accomplishments to show that you’re the kind of candidate who can get the job done.  In two to three sentences or a bullet-pointed, side-by-side list, include statistics and accomplishments that may not be reflected at other points in your resume. If you’re straight out of college, never fear.  Educational accomplishments and awards are also fair game for inclusion. The trick is to pick items that will be applicable and relevant to the position you’re applying for maximum impact.

Get Detailed With Your Experience

If the accomplishment summary isn’t quite up your alley, why not lead off with a brief overview of your expertise.  In a sentence or two, list out the names of companies and positions, you’ve held, highlighting the depth and breadth of your applicable knowledge.

At first glance, this approach is similar to the typical format of a resume objective, but it’s important to note a few sizeable differences.  First, you’re providing an overview of your experience at the top of your resume which is a big help when you consider that each of your submissions only averages a few seconds of initial review.  You also aren’t wasting valuable character space spelling out that you’re in need of a new position or are looking to make a career move. These are the obvious and wasted aspects of a resume objective that will often see an otherwise qualified CV get a one-way ticket to a recycle bin.  Give the hiring manager or recruiter a short and concise reason to keep on reading with none of the added fluff and you’ll have the upper hand on those who choose to be less productive with their page space.

How About a Personal Brand?

Last, but certainly not least, modern candidates looking to shake things up may consider adopting the first few lines of their resume or CV as a personal brand message.  The best way to think about the personal brand statement is as a combination of accomplishments, experience and a statement of your core strengths and values. How about a real-world example:

“A highly experienced professional with 10 years in the industry.  Dedicated to promoting an ethical culture while maximizing output.”

As you can see, the personal brand is short enough to not use up valuable characters that could be used to spell out experience and relevant details regarding your candidacy.  On the other hand, details about the length of experience, personal values, and professional goals are also included in a way that sparks the interest of a potential reviewer. Try a few different combinations and see which personal brand feels right for you.  Use that message as a starting point in networking conversations in addition to a resume lead-in, to help maximize the impact and streamline potential employers’ perception of your candidacy.

Have another opinion to add to the great resume objective debate?  Maybe you think the classics or best or perhaps you find a resume opener of any kind obsolete?  Drop us a line in the comments and share your experience on this age-old resume crafting question.


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