Updated 29 May 2020
Writing a resume can be a difficult task, especially if you’re applying for your first job and have never written one before. Opting to include a resume objective is increasingly popular – but what exactly is it and how can it help you clinch the job?
This article will show you how to write an effective resume objective, with errors to avoid and some examples to guide you.
A resume objective is a statement that declares your employment goals, including where you intend to be at the end of your career and what you aspire to professionally.
Usually located at the top of your resume as a focal point, the objective is composed of a few sentences and summarizes your professional and working priorities, as well as painting a picture of the kind of person you are.
Using a resume objective is all well and good, but it won’t benefit your professional advancement unless the objective is effective and relevant to the role applied for. An effective resume objective will:
All of these things should be expressed in a succinct way, further adding to their effectiveness.
Stating your goals through a resume objective is optional, of course, but doing so gives your potential employers the impression that you are fully aware of them and want to achieve them.
Some argue that including a resume objective is outdated and no longer necessary. It's worth considering though, if you want to show your potential employer that you are ambitious and aspire to promotion.
Equally, emphasizing that your skills are relevant to the role is important; including a resume objective is a strong yet subtle way of doing so. If you’re able to show an employer that you are the right fit within the first few lines of your application, you're at an advantage.
A resume objective is particularly useful if you are looking at changing careers. If your previous experience doesn't match well to the position applied for, the objective can give your potential employer information as to the other skills that make you a good candidate.
On the other hand, if you have a lot of experience then a resume objective could be used to set you apart from other applicants, by showing what additional skills you possess.
If you don’t have professional experience, landing a job can be difficult. Applications for entry-level positions should be focused toward your personal traits, emphasizing your work ethic and relevant qualities that fit well with the job description.
You can do this by discussing your strongest assets, such as your GPA or your ability to lead a team (perhaps you were captain of a sports team or led another extra-curricular activity). You should also emphasize your reliability and any other appropriate skills.
It goes without saying: you should only mention skills that can be demonstrated by your experience.
Every job you apply for should be tailored to suit that job role – there is no use in sending the same application to multiple companies, with no variation in the information you provide.
One of the first things you should consider when applying for any position is what the employer is looking for in their future employee. If you know that a company is looking for someone who is proactive, then your resume should focus on that. Arguably, a good place to do this is in your resume objective.
Some candidates find themselves spending too much time discussing what they want to do in the future, as opposed to giving the company an idea of what they have to offer. Highlighting the value you could bring to the company is much more advantageous than focusing on your future aspirations.
When considering how to write your resume for a particular position, consider the use of appropriate, relevant keywords. Using keywords from the job listing within your resume shows that not only have you read the brief thoroughly, but you have the skills desired. Use your resume objective to highlight examples of how you have used these skills in the past; then apply them to the job requirements.
While expressing your career goals in your resume objective is recommended, it is also important to make sure that your goals lie within the reach of the company. Focusing on how you want to grow within the company you are applying for is a good way of showing your ambition and potential loyalty.
Resume objectives should be short and snappy, ideally only a few sentences long. Your resume objective statement should come at the start of your resume, under an appropriate heading ensuring that it stands out.
The information should be concise, well constructed and grammatically sound.
Use keywords from the job specification within your objective if you can, and ensure that it is unique to each job. Make sure the employer can see immediately why you are a good fit for the role.
Nobody wants to make the mistake of sending off an application where the first few lines alone rule them out of contention for a job. A recruiter will not waste their time working through pages of applications if they perceive that the person is not suited to the position.
Use the resume objective effectively and to your advantage.
If you can say that you have ten years’ experience in a field, then do so within your resume objective.
In the same way, if you have improved a key metric by a particular percentage, then use this to show that you can bring significant value to the company.
Using proven skills to support your application further down in your resume leads on from this – elaborating on those skills by demonstrating how you used them at your previous place of work.
Recruiters can usually detect an application that has been bulk-delivered to a handful of companies, and it will likely go in the shredder.
Personalizing each application to suit the company is critical; be sure to incorporate keywords posted in the job spec, and mention skills they are looking for.
When writing a resume objective, it's easy to spread yourself too thin and try to cover too many bases. Focus your attention on the really key characteristics.
It's good to be concise, but don't sell yourself short. If you mention qualities that you will elaborate later on, the reader will be much more likely to fread further to find them.
It’s important to understand what a good resume objective looks like. Remember: it should highlight the strengths and value that you would bring and sell you in the best light, encouraging the recruiter to carry on reading your application. Here are five resume objective samples to guide you.
"High school teacher with 8 years of experience, seeking a position in a small, established independent school. Looking to use my curriculum development skills to improve academic results and stretch student success."
"Resilient individual seeking a position where I can use my leadership skills to drive and deliver results. Organized and enthusiastic, I would like to use my ten years’ experience in a new environment."
"Resourceful individual with PhD in Marketing seeks new role. Over 5 years’ experience and proven record of delivering campaigns with positive ROI across a number of sectors."
"An experienced and passionate team player looking for a new venture. Expertise in cash handling and excellent customer experience skills."
"High school senior with 3.0 GPA and active member of the debating team, seeking position to take advantage of excellent math skills and customer service abilities. Reliable, responsible and highly motivated."
If you don’t think a resume objective is an approach you want to take, there are alternative methods:
If used correctly, resume objectives can be highly effective additions to your resume.
Ensuring that your resume objective is kept brief and mirrors the requirements of the job you’re applying for is the key to success.
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