Some experts believe that career objectives are outdated and suggest replacing it with a summary. This is part of a shift from the generic, one-size-fits-all professional resume that was used in the past to the newer, employer-centered approach to resume writing.
Traditionally career objectives have been vague statements. “I’m a smart person with skills looking for a job I like.” Such statements really don’t say much (or anything) about how the candidate’s skills apply to a specific position. Over time, they have begun to be perceived as “fillers” that don’t add anything of value, leading most career experts to advise just scrapping them.
The first question you need to ask yourself is whether you need a career objective or whether you should skip it. Here are some things to consider.
If you are starting a new career and have little experience, a career objective can make those limited experiences appear more relevant and interesting. This is especially true if you are making a career change. In this case, your experiences alone won’t make you a strong candidate. You need a career objective to show how your skills are applicable to the new field of work.
In other cases, you may consider replacing a career objective with a resume summary statement since most hiring managers have come to view career objectives as mere extraneous fluff.
But it is possible to write a career objective that adds punch to your professional resume? It can clarify exactly how these limited experiences add value and make you a good fit for the job.
So don’t miss out on this chance to make your resume shine just a little bit brighter. Follow these 10 steps in writing a resume career objective worth keeping!
Don’t make it all about you.
A good professional resume does not just list the things that you want to get out of a job. Please make sure that your objective reflects what you bring to the job, instead of what you want to take away from it. Stay away from objectives like, “I want a position that helps me pay off my college loan bills.” instead, phrase it in terms of things that you can do for the company.
If you’re applying for a position as an account manager, emphasize your analytical skills. If you’re applying to be a hairdresser, mention your customer service and interpersonal skills.
Don’t be vague.
Do not just say that you have relevant “skills and experience”. Say exactly what these skills and experiences are. For example: “Excellent at clarifying complex technical concepts in engineering to a variety of audiences in clear and simple language” instead of just “engineering skills.” This way the reviewer will have a much clearer picture of you and your specific strengths.
Also try to avoid vague quantifiers such as “many” or “some” and use targeted, specific language. Here are other examples of vague resume objectives which should be avoided:
- “To fully utilize my skills while providing optimum output based on the expectations of the organization.”
- “I seek a position with a company where I can use my skills and talents to help it expand and grow.”
- “To excel in this field with dedication, hard work, and perseverance.”
The main purpose of a career objective is to grab the reader’s attention so don’t lose their interest by droning on too long here.
For example, how long does it take you before you stop reading this one:
“I’m a hard-working nurse who always spends lots of time helping patients with their problems, whether it’s diabetes, the flu, or just that they’re having a bad day. I’m available to work on weekends except for Sunday night and weeknights except for every other Tuesday and during the weekday every day. I also get along with everybody and some of my best friends are also my co workers.”
Keep your objective statement brief and to-the-point so reviewers will want to know more.
Target it to the job that you’re applying for.
Avoid writing an all-purpose career objective that you recycle for every position you apply for. It’s key that you tailor your career objective statement for every job.
If you use a one-size-fits-all career objective, it won’t say anything meaningful about your goals. Make it specific to the job, like this one:
“Knowledgeable and skilled Civil Engineer with an excellent record of public works construction projects. Able to coordinate with engineering and building professionals at each stage of the project. Exceptional multitasking ability with a high level of skill at producing in a high-pressure work environment.”
As you can see, this is very specific about the skills that the person brings to a particular job.
Make sure other parts of the resume back up your statements.
The purpose of a professional resume’s objective is to present the concise reasons why your skills are an exact fit for the job. A well written objective will reflects the items listed on the rest of the resume.
Ideally your objective should be written first and will serve as a guide for the other sections. A hiring manager should be able to match up any claims with specific things you’ve done or skills you’ve acquired.
If you state that you have an excellent customer service record, then your previous work experience needs to show things you have accomplished in a customer service role. If you state that you show “meticulous attention to detail,” be sure to clarify exactly how you have done that in a previous position.
Make sure your objective statement adds value.
If it just takes up space but doesn’t say anything about you, you’re better off without it. Ensure that your objective statement is strong and memorable. Don’t just say:
“I want a position where I can use my skills to earn a steady paycheck.”
Hiring managers already know that you want these things, and this makes you no different from any other job seeker. In fact, many consider objective statements outdated precisely because they tend to be vague or generic.
Using a meaningless objective statement will brand you as an amateur.
Make sure that your resume reflects your personal brand throughout and makes you stand out. If your career objective is construction work, then everything else in your professional resume’s needs to relate in some way to that objective.
Conveying the same message throughout your resume tells hiring managers that you are confident in your abilities; it also shows that you care enough about the job to spend time crafting your resume. Make your formatting consistent too; use the same font throughout and follow a consistent pattern in laying out each section.
Make sure it reflects your level of experience.
If you’re a high school student, you need a self-introductory statement that reveals your traits, values and shows that you have a good work ethic. Write it in three parts:
- State the role you’d like to fill
- Show that you are reliable
If you’re a college student, you should emphasize your degree and experience.
- Mention your degree, as well as years of work experience (if applicable)
- Give your biggest proven strength, and explain what role you’d like to have in the company.
- Emphasize that you are reliable, hard-working, and able to support the company’s goals.
If you’re already in the professional field:
- Mention how many years you have worked in this field.
- Emphasize any of your attributes that are relevant to the position.
- Mention what degree you have, as well as any certifications or licenses.
Choose the right words for your Career Objective.
There are tons of resume buzzwords which can make your resume stronger if they are used judiciously. Don’t cram too many of them into your objective; just use one or two well-placed buzzwords that accurately reflect your skill set. For example, don’t say that you are an “effective communicator” if you’re working in data entry and don’t need to communicate much. Instead, use words like “organize” and “gather information.” Here are a few other resume buzzwords that can be effective if used in the right way:
Proofread with care.
You will undoubtedly create several drafts of your resume objective. As you continue to brainstorm and reevaluate, don’t be surprised if you end up with some typos. A reviewer may decide from your resume objective whether or not she will continue reading. Don’t allow typos and errors to negate all your hard work. Proofread your resume objective carefully, and ask friends and family to look over it in case you miss anything.
Remember that your career objective is in prime real estate on your resume; it’s one of the first things that reviewers will see, and thus your first chance to grab their attention. As such, it’s worth your time to really shine up that objective and make it a winner. With these 10 guidelines, you will be well on your way.