You Don’t Need A Resume Objective For a Career Change, But You Do Need This

Inside: Tips for updating your resume for a career change. Ditch the resume objective for an effective resume summary.


Are you making a career change and there is currently an objective at the top of your resume? If so do not pass go, do not collect $200! That resume objective has got to go, and we’re going to work together to replace it with a resume summary. Examples included!

We’re also going to share some laughs in the process because I’m not a regular Career Coach, I’m a cool Career Coach. (And a mom who gets that relatable parenting stories make everything more fun.)

Off we go!


What is a Resume Objective?

Back in a day, a resume objective was a common part of a typical resume. It would look something like this:

Objective: To obtain a position with a technology company as a product manager.

Look familiar? Job seekers would use a resume objective to signal to an employer what they were looking for and often include it at the top of their resume right under their contact information.


Why Does the Resume Objective Have to Go When Making a Career Change?

So what’s so wrong with the resume objective when you are making a career change or submitting any job application? The simple answer is that the employer already knows what your objective is because you are applying to their job. If your objective were not to obtain a position with their organization then it would be super weird of you to apply, right?

Also, often your resume is paired with a cover letter which will allow you more space to explain your “why.” Why this company, why this role, why are you a good fit?

Lastly, your resume objective is taking up real estate. If you have less than 10 years of work experience, your resume should be less than one page. If you have more than 10 years of work experience, I still don’t recommend going over two pages. So unless you are writing in a size four font (please don’t do that) you are going to be trying to fit in a lot of content onto one or two pages and you want all of those words to count.


What Should I Include Instead of a Resume Objective when Making a Career Change?

If you skip the resume objective, do you need to jump right into your work experience or education? Well, no. Not so fast! That real estate you just freed up by ditching your resume objective is the perfect space for something much more career change friendly, a Summary or Professional Profile.

A resume Summary or Professional Profile is essentially your elevator pitch for why you are a good fit for a job. Your resume should ideally tell your story through your experience, but by giving yourself the opportunity to highlight your key transferrable skills right off the bat, you tee up the narrative for the reader.

Instead of using your resume objective to say that you want this job, you can use your resume summary to sell the employer on why they want YOU!


What to Include in a Resume Summary

Now let’s have some fun with this shall we?

In our cover letter example, my son was applying for the coveted role of “tiny grocery cart driver.” In our resume summary example, my three-year-old daughter, Norah, is going to apply for the role of “Friday night movie chooser.”

I must say, that Norah’s credentials are pretty strong, but she does only have three years of experience compared to her competitors who respectively have four years, 34 years, and 36 years of experience selecting movies. She’s going to need to sell it to the employer that she is the right (little) woman for the job.

Norah’s first pass on her application included a resume objective and I think you’ll see why I recommended it be quickly deleted.

Resume Objective Example 1:

Objective: I WANNA WATCH MOANA. Jack picked last time, Ursula is scary, and also I WANNA SNACK.

Yeah…no. Try again.

Resume Objective Example 2:

Objective: To pick the movie that we watch on Friday night and to have that movie be Moana.

Better. But what extra information did that give the employer? So I suggested she try a resume summary instead.

Resume Summary Example:

Dedicated professional passionate about modern cinema and inspired by the power of film to move an audience. Skilled in proposing unique and effective solutions independently and as part of a team. Committed to promoting strong role models in media to help build the foundation for future generations to tackle the problems of today and tomorrow.

Now we’re talking. Well-written, talks about her key skills, and emphasizes why picking her for this job would benefit the organization. Bingo!


why you don't need a resume objective & what you do need instead

Writing Your Own Resume Summary

Since you are likely not three years old and are probably making a career change that doesn’t involve Friday night movies, let’s help you ditch the resume objective and write your own resume summary.

First, keep in mind that your resume summary will likely not stay exactly the same for every job you apply for. Often job seekers forget that their resume isn’t etched in stone, you can and should make necessary adjustments as you are applying to certain jobs in order to highlight the most important stuff.

Next, read the job description carefully. What are the key qualifications for the role? What does that employer need to see from an applicant in order to say “Oh thank goodness, this person gets it!”

Now identify the top three skills you would bring to this job based on the listed qualifications and the full job description. Why should the company hire you? Then work those top three skills into your resume summary to make sure the employer knows exactly what makes you awesome and why they want to meet you.

Mores Resume Summary Examples

Want to see one more resume summary example that is a little less preschool and a little more professional? I’ll show you mine, tweaked to apply for an imaginary Career Coach job that requires experience in coaching, personal branding, and job search strategies.

Career Coach and communications specialist with over 11 years of experience in higher education career services and professional development. Brings a vast knowledge of career development frameworks and job search strategies including expertise in personal branding and storytelling. Excels at helping others find their “light bulb moments” as they embrace all of their skills, interests, and values in order to find fulfillment in their careers.

You’ll see this one also highlighted my key skills relevant to the job and also followed the same structure of three sentences written in first person without the subject. Third-person works too but can feel a little awkward.

Find more resume summary examples on The Muse and Novo Resume.


Key Resume Objective Takeaways for Your Career Change

I think you’re ready to do this on your own! As you start writing your resumes summary remember these three key things:

  1. Ditch the Resume Objective: The employer knows you want to make a career change and that you want this job or one like it. You don’t need to use up space to tell them that on your resume.
  2. Read the Qualifications: What skills is this employer looking for? What type of candidate is going to come in and solve their problem?
  3. Focus on Your Top 3 Relevant Skills: Your resume summary should only be about three sentences, focus on your top three relevant skills.

If your resume could use a little more love, check out this post that talks about all the important resume sections you need and what content to include or download the checklist below. Good luck! You’ve got this.



Read More on Cover Letters, Resumes, and Making a Career Change:

Write a Cover Letter for a Job Application That Will Make You Stand Out

The Resumes Sections You Need to Take Your Resume from “Meh” to “We Need to Meet Her!”

Finding Your Career Sweet Spot: Guided Career Development Exercise

“We Need to Meet Her!” Resume and Cover Letter Templates


Ditch your resume objective ASAP. Here's what a career coach says you need instead.

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