The resume objective is often the first thing a potential employer sees on your resume. It’s their first impression of you as a candidate.
So why do so many job seekers, especially new college graduates, use objectives ineffectively?
It’s likely that these applicants are listening to well-meaning, yet outdated advice on job objectives. In fact, resume objectives have largely fallen out of favor with employers. In many cases, you don’t need to include an objective at all. However, it can be helpful in some scenarios if written effectively.
In this article, we’ll share our top tips on how to make the best use of this space on your resume. We’ll start by looking at what a resume objective is, review some good and bad examples, and end with some pointers to help you take your objective to the next level.
What Is a Resume Objective
From a technical standpoint, a job objective on a resume tells a reader what job you’re applying to at a specific company. It also summarizes your short-term professional goals. Therein lies a major stumbling block for students and seasoned professionals alike.
Most individuals who add an objective to their resume focus on long-term achievements, states of mind, or enlightenment more appropriate for philosophical discussion. This is the wrong approach.
Read the following resume objective sample for a demonstration of this incorrect technique:
JOB OBJECTIVE: To obtain a position which will allow me to grow and reach my fullest potential.
There are several issues with this type of job objective. First, it doesn’t specify the job to which the applicant is applying.
Frequently, resumes are submitted without a cover letter and without an objective specifying the job the applicant is seeking. This is frustrating for businesses with multiple job vacancies, many of which are similar in responsibilities. Specifying the job sought is crucial when creating a resume objective.
Additionally, in the sample above, the objective is vague and confusing. Grow toward what? What strengths will allow this applicant to reach his or her full potential?
Vague objectives typically do nothing but take up space. You’d be better off using this space for listing specific accomplishments achieved at current or past jobs.
When to Use a Resume Objective
However, this is not to say that you should never use a job objective. For undergraduate students and new college graduates, job objectives can provide a way to fill space on a resume when you lack enough experience to completely fill an entire page.
Resumes should occupy an entire page, not half a page or even 75% of a page. This means that for a student, an objective can be a great section to include. Of course, your objective should not serve only as a space filler–it should also provide helpful information that frames you as a good fit for the position.
A job objective statement may also be in order if your objective is not necessarily clear from your work experience. Naturally, this will be the case for many recent college graduates with minimal or unrelated work experience.
Additionally, when you get more creative (although not too creative) with a resume objective, it can identify one or two specific strengths you will bring to the position.
For help identifying your employable skills, upload your resume to Chegg CareerMatch. We’ll provide you with a list to get you started!
How to Write a Solid Resume Objective
Let’s say you’re an undergraduate accounting major seeking your first job post-graduation. Here’s a basic but effective resume objective sample:
JOB OBJECTIVE: To become a tax associate at XYZ Accounting Firm.
Yes, this career objective is simple and a bit dull, but it clearly identifies the position the applicant is seeking. In fact, applicants often encounter problems when trying to “spice up” their job objectives with unnecessary descriptive language.
Here are a few additional resume objective examples to serve as a blueprint:
- To become a social media coordinator at XYZ Tech.
- To become a marketing assistant at ABC Marketing.
- To become a lab technician at Acme Chemical, Inc.
By succinctly stating the position to which you’re applying, you’ll have a clear and effective resume objective.
How to Take Your Resume Objective to the Next Level
Of course, you might like your resume objective to be a bit more impressive. In addition to stating what position you’re applying to, you can add a brief comment about the skills or experience you will bring to the job.
When adding to your career objective, keep in mind that it should be no longer than one sentence. Clarity and conciseness are key.
For this example, let’s say you’re applying to a social services firm. An entry-level social worker is unlikely to have much relevant work experience, if any. Identifying specific skills, including those gained from college courses, internships, or volunteer experiences, then becomes especially important.
Here’s an example:
JOB OBJECTIVE: To bring my two years of crisis counseling volunteer experience to Healthcore’s Crisis Services Coordinator.
This objective would likely entice the employer to read further to learn more about the applicant’s counseling experience.
Here are some additional resume objective statements using this framework:
JOB OBJECTIVE: To bring my four years of accounting coursework with a tax concentration to Tax Services, Inc’s Senior Tax Preparer position.
JOB OBJECTIVE: To bring my two years of chemical engineering experience to Chem, Inc’s Chemist II position.
Some members of hiring committees may skip resume objectives, while others won’t. If you’re a recent college graduate with little work experience, it’s acceptable to include an objective regardless. By using the advice above, you’ll catch the eyes of those who do read them.
Resume Objective vs. Resume Summary or Resume Profile
You may be wondering if there are better alternatives to the resume objective. Job seekers, including new graduates, may benefit from replacing the job objective with a resume summary or resume profile. Both a resume summary and a resume profile list qualifications that make the job seeker a good fit for the job to which they’re applying.
For new graduates with little experience, a resume summary or resume profile can include “soft skills” that are needed in most careers, including:
- Highly Organized
- Effective Communicator
- Critical Thinker
- Results Oriented
- Team Oriented
- Strong Time Management Skills
Whether in a resume summary or resume profile, these skills should be presented in sentence format. Here’s an example:
- Highly organized retail stores associate adept at point-of-sale operations.
- Effective communicator with an aptitude for addressing and resolving customer disputes.
- Innovative sales professional accomplished in developing social media marketing plans that increase company website visitation and sales.
As you gain additional work experience, enhance your resume summary with statements that directly address job descriptions.
For example, if an entry-level sales associate position lists requirements such as, “experience in automotive part sales and exchanges,” your resume summary might look something like the following:
- Two years of experience providing sales support in automotive parts store.
- Adept at aiding customers in identifying needed car parts for repairs and administering part exchanges.
This approach allows you to immediately address the skills sought by the employer, making a resume summary or resume profile more effective than a resume objective.
Upload your resume to Chegg CareerMatch, and we’ll help you identify job openings that are a match for your skill set.
While an objective may be appropriate in some cases, a resume profile or resume summary offers hiring managers a quick way to assess whether it’s worth reading the remainder of the resume. Job objectives rarely have this level of impact.