Writing a resume can be intimidating — you want to make sure that you share all of your relevant professional and educational experiences in a way that engages and impresses potential employers. You're constantly thinking about key, actionable words you should include in your resume, and how to organize it in a way that makes chronological sense while prioritizing your most valuable experiences. You're trying to squeeze all of your experiences onto one page, and you're thinking about how to start that page with an eye-catching opener — perhaps, a job objective.
You always want to write a job objective that compels employers to read on to those experiences of yours. So what exactly is a resume objective and what are some examples of good ones?
What Is a Resume Objective?
A resume objective is the section of your resume that states what kind of career you're looking for, and the skills and experiences you have for that career. It should sit at the top of your resume, be only about one or two sentences long and be tailored to the job for which you're applying.
Unlike other sections of your resume like your career experiences, education and skills, resumes don't necessarily need job objectives, however.
Who Should Include and Objective on Their Resume (and Why)?
There's a lot of debate surrounding whether you should or should not include a resume objective on your resume. Many argue that a resume objective can't help you but it can often hurt you. They argue that resume objectives are outdated and take up valuable space that could be better utilized (you're already trying to squeeze everything onto one page!).
"I don’t care for objectives statements in resume’s, and try to steer people away from them. I realize they are wildly popular, but I think they set the wrong tone for a resume," writes HRNasty, a blog sharing "what recruiters really think." "When I have a pile full of resumes, objective statements stand out like a child raising their hand saying 'ooohh, ohhh, pick me, pick me.' I can only imagine that when they are being written that the writer’s mentality is one of 'hope and luck' vs. 'confidence.'"
After all, you're applying for a particular job so you're job objective should, in theory, be pretty obvious (and your resume experience should speak for itself!).
But Fairygodboss co-founder and CEO has argued that there are some times when a resume objective actually can do you well.
"There are at least four professional situations when, as a hiring manager, I have found it reasonable for people to list their resume objective," she writes. These four times include:
- When you're applying for your first job out of school
- When you've been out of the working world for some time and need to explain your gap
- When you're majorly changing careers
- When you're applying for an internship
If the above four situations don't apply to you, you can probably leave an objective off of your resume.
If you must include an objective on your resume, however, let's dive into how to write a really compelling one.
What Is a Good Objective for a Resume?
So what is the best career objective for a resume? A well-done objective for a resume is one that let's the prospective employer know exactly what kind of career you're looking for and exactly how you're a perfect fit for that type of career. And it does all that in one or two sentences at the maximum.
For example, if you're a graduate applying for your first job, your resume objective might read like this:
- Objective: To utilize my psychology degree in way that allows me to explore my interest in helping marginalized groups. I’m focused on a position as a social worker.
If you've been out of work for a while and want your employer to know why the dates in your experiences seem to leave a large gap, your resume objective might read like this:
- Objective: To re-enter the workforce in the editorial field after developing this interest while starting a successful parenting blog raising my firstborn.
If you're changing careers in a major way, your resume objective might read like this:
- Objective: To utilize the skills I developed in my coding camp with a full stack development role at a technology company.
And if you're a student applying for an internship, your resume objective might read like this:
- Objective: To obtain an internship at a full-service law firm where my political science background will be a valuable fit.
How Do You Write an Objective for a Resume?
Writing an objective for a resume isn't necessarily easy because it needs to be short, sweet and to the point. Again, your objective should only be about one to two sentences in length, so you should be able to say everything you want to get across in just a few words.
There are three key elements to your resume objective:
- Your intentions
- The career you want
- The relevant skills you have
Your intentions should be the first element mentioned in your objective. Your intention might be to utilize your skills from coding camp or tapping into your political science education.
The career you want should be the type of position or company for which you want to work (and this should be tailored for each job application). The career you want might be one as a full stack developer or working for a full-service law firm, for example.
The relevant skills you have suggests that you're cut out for the career you want and can, therefore, fulfill your intentions. You might refer to starting a successful parenting blog, indicating blogging and editorial skills, for example.
Just remember that, beyond the three key elements, your resume objective should be tailored to each and every job for which you apply. If you're applying for a job in the computer sciences, you don't want your resume objective explaining that you're looking for an editorial job — and vice versa.
AnnaMarie Houlis is a feminist, a freelance journalist and an adventure aficionado with an affinity for impulsive solo travel. She spends her days writing about women’s empowerment from around the world. You can follow her work on her blog, HerReport.org, and follow her journeys on Instagram @her_report, Twitter @herreportand Facebook.