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How to Write an Attention-Grabbing Career Objective for Your Resume
Detailing your life’s work experience for someone else’s judgment can be a daunting enough task without the added pressure of having to write a career objective for your resume. In this section, you are expected to lay out in detail your long-term hopes and goals for your career.
Chances are you may not even know what they are yet - most people don’t until they are pretty far into their lives, and that’s ok.
But you need that job, and all of the resume writing articles you have been endlessly scouring say that you fall into the category of someone who needs to add a career objective, or maybe the job requires it. Whatever reason it is, you’re here, staring at the blank space on your document, wondering what in the world you’re supposed to put in that spot.
First of all, let’s just clear up the stress a little. A career objective is not a definite requirement on your resume, so you really can’t screw it up too badly. In fact, by adding it onto your document, you are automatically impressing potential employers who are looking for people like you who don’t mind showing a little extra initiative, even when it’s not necessary.
A solidly written objective can tell the hiring manager that you are driven and hardworking. You know what you want and you know the path you need to take to get there. It compliments your work history and the skills you have already, and all you have to be able to do is string together some well-placed, attention-grabbing words.
When Would You Need to Include a Career Objective?
If you do enough research, you’ll find lots of resume writing templates and guides that tell you a career objective isn’t necessary. But the truth is that career objectives are actually one of the best things you can include. They show off your ambition, a soft skill that many employers desire in an employee.
Hard skills are easy to teach. Monkeys have been trained to run computers and computers have been trained to run the world. Any hard skill that you have is definitely marketable, but soft skills often make the final deciding factor for an employer tossing up two potential candidates with similar abilities and experience.
That’s where a career objective for your resume can push the scale into your favor. Why not add one?
Tips On Writing a Good Career Objective
Your career objective is usually placed underneath your name and any relevant personal details. It’s an introduction to what the reader is about to see. While it’s not a summary, it is directly correlated to everything on your resume and can build the interest of a potential employer.
You know you’re the perfect person for the job; now it’s time to convince them of that fact. It’s making the sale in two or three sentences, and you can do it well with these tips:
1. Make it short and sweet.
The general rule of thumb is that your resume needs to be one to two pages, and preferably one. This makes space a premium and every aspect of your resume needs to be important and relevant; therefore, a career objective should be no more than five lines at the most.
Your career objective is one of the first things the reader will see and it can make or break whether they keep reading or not. Because employers often get numerous resumes, the average time spent scanning over each one is mere seconds. You have about ten seconds to grab and hold their attention, so you need to keep your career objective short but meaningful.
2. Go ahead and applaud your key selling points, but don’t go overboard.
Many people have been raised by the philosophy that being proud of and extolling their good traits and abilities is bragging - and bad.
If that’s you, you have to get past it. In a career objective, you have to focus on your good points, tell others about them, and let them know that you are the best person for that job. It’s not boasting. It’s a smart career move.
You need to let your potential employer know what makes you so different from all of the other applicants, but don’t exaggerate. If you have experience working on an airplane’s engines, don’t say you can fly a plane if you can’t. If you had a few hours observing a teacher in action, don’t say you’re an expert in classroom management. These gross exaggerations can come back to bite you later. Be honest, but be direct and assertive.
3. Adjust your career objective as needed for the job.
If you really aren’t looking for a specific career path and you just want a job that pays the bills, you’re probably applying for multiple different positions. In this case, you’ll need to write an objective for each job.
Good career objectives for your resume require you to research the company, their mission statement and history, the job that you are applying for, and even the people who work there. Once you know what the company values and what the employer is likely looking for, you can write your objective explaining how you fit that role.
4. Proofread carefully!
Simple errors are the death of many resumes. Do not rely on spelling and grammar checks from your program. Either find an expert friend to review it for you or spend a few dollars hiring someone, but do what it takes to ensure that you did not overlook an error somewhere.
Meaningful Career Objective Examples For Your Resume
The thing to remember about this section of your resume is that you have already made a good impression by having one; you don’t want to fall flat. There is a balance you have to find between short and succinct and long and rambling.
Here are some examples of good career objectives for your resume to grab the reader’s attention:
- I am a recent graduate of (name of school), where I finished top in my cohort and received multiple letters of recommendation from my professors. Although my work experience currently consists of the training I was able to receive in school, my drive and passion to help others heal and recover makes me the ideal candidate to work as a registered nurse.
This objective is short and to the point. It makes no bones about the fact that you don’t have a lot of job experience, but instead focuses on the fact that you come highly recommended and you have a passion for the job. Employers know that a candidate can have years of experience, but without the dedication and drive for their work, they lack the necessary ability to do their job well.
Let’s take the same situation and look at a bad career objective example:
- I recently graduated from (name of school) top in my cohort. My professors have written me letters of recommendation, but I don’t have any work experience. I’m good with people and I like to help make them feel better.
While this one says the same thing as the previous objective, it falls short in specifics and confidence. The words are plain and there is no ambition evident. There is nothing apparent that makes this person stand out from the other applicants.
Here is one more good example:
- In the ten years I have been an educator, my previous roles as team leader for my grade level and curriculum leader have helped me to gain competence in demonstrating confidence as a role model, creating organizational systems, facilitating group meetings and resolving conflict management. These skills will serve me well as I continue on my path to become an administrator at the district level.
This objective works because it contains strong, actionable words, showcases important soft skills that are desirable in the field of education, and specifically lays out the ultimate goal of this person’s career.
Now let’s look at the same situation in a bad example of a career objective.
- I have ten years of teaching experience, during which time I was a team leader for my grade level and also a curriculum leader. Those roles helped me to learn how to be a leader, become organized, hold group meetings, and handle conflicts. These are all skills I will need when I become a district level administrator.
Notice how those are the exact same experiences and skills this person has, but they are not worded as strongly. The confidence is clearer in the first objective, whereas the second objective simply lays out facts without grabbing your attention.
Your career objective for your resume needs to be a good example, not a bad example. Let your talents and skills shine through and show the reader that you are someone they need to look at in more detail.
You Can Write a Meaningful Career Objective
Once you know the values and expectations of the company that has the position for which you are applying, you can use them to match the skills you have that they are looking for. Throw in some strong action words and use your impressive vocabulary (or the thesaurus) to grab the reader’s attention and land that job!