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Writing a Great Resume Objective

By Jason Kay

It's the first thing potential employers read, and it can set the tone for your entire resume. The objective you list on your resume can make the difference between "keep reading" and "toss it" in the minds of hiring managers, so it's worth your time and attention!

Below are some tips on how to create an objective that's accurate and engaging for the reader, along with what you need to consider before committing to an objective.

 

Write From the Employer's Point of View

It's your resume, so it makes sense that your objective should be about what you're looking for, right? But as with so many things related to job hunting, the trick is to compose an objective that speaks to what the potential employer is looking for.

  • Add value. The single best way to sell yourself-in your resume, cover letter, and any other application material-is to relate your ability to add value to a company. For example: "Seeking a marketing position where 20 years of experience can help advance the company's goals." Now, if you're the potential employer, doesn't that sound like a better deal than someone who wants to "put 20 years of experience to use." To use for what? Use your first opportunity to "wow" them by revealing exactly how you can help the company.

  • Avoid "me"-centric wording. Do you want to advance your career? Do you want to further your goals by moving up the corporate ladder? From the looks of most resume objectives, that's important to almost every job hunter. But employers aren't terribly concerned about what you want-at least not before you're hired an prove invaluable to the company. Avoid objectives that talk include "my career" "I want," and "offer me advancement."

  • Stay away from the clichés. Hiring managers see dozens of objectives every day that include the terms like "utilize my skills." It looks lazy or, worse, like you don't know what you're doing if you can't streamline it to reflect the job you want and exactly what you bring to the table.

  • Take care with your adjectives. Chances are, you've made adjective mistakes in the past and didn't even realize it. Listing your desire for a "challenging" job, for example, can't help but cause potential employers to think, "As opposed to boring?" Or wanting to secure a position within a "progressive" company. Don't most people prefer that over a stodgy company stuck in the 19th century? It may seem like a small thing, but your adjectives can speak volumes about you. Your descriptions can come off as trite or simply make the reader think, "duh..." Remember that every word counts.

 

Pair the Right Objective with the Right Job

There are so many variables within the job hunting process. But whether you're applying for specific jobs, prospecting anywhere and everywhere, or attempting to pull off a significant career change, your objective will either help or hurt your cause.

  • Be as specific as possible. If you're responding to an ad for a defined job, make sure the hiring manager knows that when reading your objective. That doesn't mean you should include where you saw the ad ("seeking the position advertised in the city newspaper"); rather the reader should understand through the words in your objective that you're responding to the ad. Instead of a blanket "seeking a sales position at Company X," say "seeking Account Management position for Territory ABC." If you're not applying for a job opening, see below.

  • Leave it off entirely if you're prospecting. Using an objective is a powerful way to open a resume and target it to the job you're interested in. But if you're applying for potential job openings at a specific company (without knowing the actual jobs you're qualified for) or are using your resume to blanket an area (posting it on a huge online job site or handing it out at a career fair), skip the objective altogether. It will only serve to limit the number of responses you get. Let the rest of your resume sell your strengths and experience, and cross your fingers that you're a match for an opening.

  • Be precise with a career-change resume. When you're changing careers, a great objective is even more important. If you don't state your goal explicitly in the objective, the hiring manager may look over your resume and wonder why a graphic designer is submitting a resume for an accounting position. Make sure you say something like, "Seeking an entry-level accounting position where 10 years of comprehensive business experience can be applied to increase client satisfaction."