A complete guide to the resume objective

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Resumes aren’t always fun to write (in fact, I’m pretty sure they never are) but they are a must-do for our careers, and a resume objective statement can help you minimize the number of resumes you need to get out.

A resume objective is a short, specific company and position-targeted statement that sums up your “position” in terms of the role.

What does this mean?

It lets employers know how you’re different and hopefully encourages them to keep reading.

In fact, that’s the resume objective’s job; to catch the employer’s attention and get them to keep reading your resume.

The best way to approach your objective statement

The most important part to understand about a resume objective statement is that it needs to carefully and exactly fit the job you’re targeting.

This means using direct words and phrases from the job posting.

So, keeping in mind that there are likely hundreds of qualified applicants doing the same thing you are (writing well-crafted, targeted resumes to hiring managers…), how do we get yours to stand out the most?

We understand your only objective is to get the job, so bear with us.

After all, it’s not just hiring managers parsing resumes today. “Applicant Tracking System (ATS) software has long been used by high-end firms searching for executives and HR managers at large corporations that receive thousands of applications. The systems are increasingly being adopted in various sectors of the labor market,” writes Vice.

“Their most important task,” according to Philadelphia-area career advisor Lynne Williams, “is to parrot keywords from job descriptions. The most basic elimination function of most ATS software is searching résumés and cover letters for keywords. Many systems can’t—or don’t bother to—distinguish synonyms, like “manager” and “supervisor,” so she says to rewrite résumés with each
application, mindlessly copying words from the job description. Countless online guides for “beating the bots” recommend the same.”

You’re trying to get the employer who will eventually read your resume and bots to think, “Wow, it’s as if this person knows exactly what I’m looking for!” And you
do, because you read the description that well.

For more advice on beating the bots, we advise you read up on the High Score Resume format, which we’ve lovingly put together (with step-by-step instruction) and deemed the best format for your resume.

Again, a resume objective is a short, to-the-point statement that clearly outlines your career direction while also positioning you as someone who exactly fits the specific role you’re targeting.

Here are the rules:

1) Don’t beg. Remember, we’re not trying to get the hiring manager to feel sorry for us. That won’t work, anyway. Instead, we want to matter-of-factly explain what we’ve done so far in our career and how it’ll help us in this job. That’s it.

2) Make sure your resume objective doesn’t make you look amateurish. Do it right and don’t cut corners.

3) Understand the differences and nuances between the objective statement and resume summary statement.

“The objective usually is short, one or two sentences long. The most effective objective is specific about the position and type of employment desired. It identifies the kind of career you are seeking. It focuses on you, what job or career you are looking for. The summary, on the other hand, highlights your qualifications for a job. It is meant to give the reviewer/hiring managers an immediate, quick synopsis of your background and experience that is relevant to the target position. It highlights your specific strengths, skills and core competencies. This can help the screener and/or hiring manager understand how you will add value to the organization,” according to Alameda County Training & Education Center.

Finally, here are some resume examples that can help with writing the rest of your resume.

When you should (and shouldn’t) use the resume objective

There are specific cases when you should (or shouldn’t) use the resume objective. Here’s when you should:

1) You’ve relatively new to the job search market in general and lack work
experience

2) You’re switching industries altogether

3) You want to target a specific job or position title

And here’s when you shouldn’t:

If you answered no to all of the above, you might not need an objective statement on your resume. It could still help, though. And honestly, it’s better than having nothing there, if only for the reason it draws in the eye.

If you are part of this category and have decided not to write a resume objective, consider writing a resume summary statement instead.

To recap, for those of you that are just starting out or in the midst of a career change, the objective statement will help you be relevant for the position. In short, it’ll help you bypass the already difficult hurdle you’re facing.

Alternatively, if you just send out your resume and have no experience in the field (or resume objective statement), you’ll, well, not get a call. Or even worse, the hiring manager will think you sent it by accident.

Instead, use the objective statement to explain why you’re switching and how your existing skills fit the job.

Common resume objective mishaps

1) Trying to use the same objective for every job you apply to. This is tempting to do but defeats the entire purpose of the resume objective. In fact, it shows each employer that you tried to cut a corner. Here’s an example of someone trying to do this: To secure a job in my chosen field that will challenge and motivate me as well as allow me to use my educational background, skills, experience in a mutually beneficial way.”

Don’t be like them.

2) Making the whole thing about what you can do and what they’ll get out of the job. This is a really easy trap to fall into. Job seekers all too often forget that the job search process is, in fact, about the interviewer (hear us out) and how you can add value. It’s a business transaction.

3) Making it too long. Yes, you are amazing in so many ways. But this section is supposed to wake up your potential new employer, not put them to sleep. Instead of making this common mistake, begin your resume statement by catering it to the position and company you’re applying to like this: Seeking a marketing position with Company Z, where I can apply my 15+ years of content writing and social media management experience.

Actually writing a great resume objective

Again, start with the job description for the position you’re applying to and a piece of paper (or a Google doc).

Pull the information from the job description that applies to you. For example, if the position states they’d like someone with ten years of experience in their industry, simply write down “10 years.” Rinse and repeat for everything that applies to you.

Remember to use action verbs in your resume objective. They will help raise your reader’s energy levels, convey confidence, and add impact and purpose.

Here are a few examples of action verbs you might want to use:

● Created
● Managed
● Analyzed
● Headed
● Produced
● Developed

And here are some sample resume objective statements for various different situations.

Choose the one that’s most relevant to your situation and get to work.

1) The resume objective statement for someone who is just starting out in their career:

Objective: Motivated and energetic journalism student seeking MarketinAssistant position with Company X.

Yes, use the actual name of the target company (Company X) and position (marketing assistant.) It makes you look like you did your research.

This person was able to explain away their flimsy resume by stating in their objective statement that they are still a student.

2) The resume objective statement for someone undergoing a career change:

An experienced journalist with 10 years of experience looking to leverage writing and communications background into Copywriter position with Company Y. With just this statement, this person elevated themselves from being completely irrelevant to someone who might be the best fit for the job.

3) The resume objective statement for someone with lots of relevant experience:

To obtain the Financial Journalist II position with Reuters, where I can apply my 15 years of writing and reporting experience to write well-balanced financial articles with the goal of increasing readership and engagement.

“A well-crafted resume can be your ticket to landing an interview and job offer. But to make a good impression, your resume must go beyond simply listing your education and work experience,” writes U.S. News & World Report.

“You have to view it as a marketing document,” career expert Amanda Augustine explained in the article.

“To set the stage for this professional document, you must include a resume objective or a similar statement at the top. This brief summary is the first thing a hiring manager will read and needs to be written with care.”