Writing a Winning Career Resume Objective: 6 Tips to Get Started

Career Objective_float

You’ve written your resume, and sent it out to what seems like hundreds of companies without any success.  Perhaps it’s time to look at one of the most important, and yet often neglected, parts of the resume – your career objective.  If done correctly, this will show potential employers at a glance that you are serious about the job in question and know what you want to do.  A poorly executed objective, however, may disqualify you from the position altogether.

Follow these simple steps to write a winning career objective every time.

  • Be pithy. Generally, an objective should be limited to a sentence or two.  It’s all about saying as much as needed in as small a space as possible.  Remember, this is only the first thing that a potential employer sees, and the goal is to write so that he or she wants to continue reading the rest of your resume.
  • Begin with ‘To’ not ‘I.’ The career objective on your resume should tell what you can do for the company, and not what you expect to get from the company.  When you’re competing with hundreds of other applicants, the employer’s focus is on which one of you can benefit them the most.  Here is an example of a quality resume objective: “To work for a small graphics company using my graphic design, layout, and drafting skills.” This shows what you can do for them instead of saying, “I want to work for a small graphics company to improve my graphic design and layout skills.”
  • Convey facts. Words such as challenging, useful, educational, helpful, etc. mean different things to each person, and therefore do not convey specific messages to a possible employer.  Instead, explain how you want to use your English degree and editing skills to work for a book publisher.
  • Use action verbs. It is tempting to try to stand out with your objective by starting it with something other than ‘to’ such as: my goal is, I hope to, my plan is, etc.  Not only does this show employers that you are more concerned with helping yourself than with helping his or her company, but the passive voice makes the sentence wordy and weak.  Phrases such as to work, to promote, and to advance show that you know what your career goal is and how you can help your prospective employer.
  • Decide how specific you need to be. This is by far the trickiest part of writing a career objective for your resume.  If you know exactly what job you want within a company and understand what type of skills that job requires, then your objective can be written like this, “To work as an office production assistant with a small film company specializing in television using my clerical skills and Communications degree.” Unless you understand what the job requires and have specific skills, however, you will probably want to write something a bit broader such as “To work in an advertising agency using my experience in graphic design, layout, and copywriting.” This does not mention what position you seek, but includes a varied list of qualifications that would make you an attractive candidate to work in graphics or ad copy.
  • Use what experience you have. If you’re a recent college graduate, you may not have many practical, real world skills that you can list in your objective.  Don’t worry.  Consider what you were good at in college (editing, researching, memorizing facts) and re-word it for a corporate environment.  If you were good at gathering data for essays then you have skills as a researcher.  Similarly, if you have a photographic memory then that can be a marketable quality.

Since you have such a short space to make a good impression, be careful in selecting the skills to list.  Choose ones that will be the most advantageous to each individual company.  You may have to re-write your objective several times for different jobs, but a well-written objective will help put you ahead of your competition.


Brand-Yourself.com is a platform to diagnose, manage and monitor your online reputation for career success. Did you know that 83% of employers use the web to research job applicants? If you’re ready to proactively control your Google results and get hired, rather than cut from the applicant pool, try us for free and start controlling how you’re perceived online. Go ahead. Take our tools for a spin.

Bethany Stringer is a graduate of Texas A&M University (class of ‘08) and has her B.A. in English Literature with minors in History and Psychology.  Writing her first story at the age of 5 (with help from Mom), Bethany still enjoys writing and researching about everything from business and history to travel and fiction.  Enamored with languages, she plans to teach English in Russia in 2010 as a CELTA certified teacher.  She owned her own business working horses when she was 17, and still loves riding her horse Romeo.  Always appreciating a challenge, she loves sea kayaking and prefers Rachmaninov to Bach.

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  • donnasweidan

    Hi Bethany,
    I am relieved to see more people writing about how to create a resume that will get peoples attention, because too many people, and especially recent graduates like yourself who struggle with how to promote themselves on paper.. and that's what it is, right?
    I do however have a different perspective than you, re the Objective, and maybe its just semantics, but I recently wrote about this very issue in a blog post.. http://www.careerfolk.com/careerfolk-blog/ on Resume trends – What's in and whats out.. and below is what I wrote about the Objective. You are right when you say that no one really cares what you want – its about what you have to offer!

    1. OUT: Objective IN: Clear and compelling Positioning Statement / Value Proposition/ Job Title

    The top ¼ of your resume is the most prime resume real estate. I see too many resumes squander the opportunity to catch the attention of the person perusing/ skimming/ eyeballing your document. Telling a recruiter “what you want” by way of the ubiquitous Objective does nothing for your cause and the statement became obsolete at least one recession ago. A recruiter or HR professional is going to spend approx 5-10 seconds scanning your resume for all the right KEYwords. Not only do they need to be up front and center, but so does your immediate value proposition. How will the recruiter be compelled to place your resume over all others onto the “call” pile? It doesn’t matter what you name this top section, what does matter is that it includes ideal job titles you identify with and your value proposition. Going for the old cliched statements don’t work any more either. This Positioning Statement has to be unique to you, and convey exactly why you are so well suited for the position.
    To give you an example, I would suggest you take your example:
    “To work as an office production assistant with a small film company specializing in television using my clerical skills and Communications degree.”
    and create this instead:

    Office Production Assistant
    BA, Communications | Administrative Skills | Strong interest in Film & Television

    Less word clutter and easy to read. What do you think?
    I hope you find that helpful. I have 9 other points on my blog about whats changed in resume writing. I hope you will take a look and feel free to comment.

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  • http://career.qandas.com/jobs/where-can-i-find-job-salaries.html Job Salary

    I strongly recommend “Begin with ‘To’ not ‘I'. Based from experience, I had a great impression with my employer and until now still counting years with this company where I belong.

  • http://www.brand-yourself.com Trace Cohen

    A resume is a single piece of paper that is a representation of everything you have done basically in your life. You need to make it as clear as possible to the employer what your goals are and how you can help the company, otherwise you're just a dime a dozen. Your resume is one of the single most important aspects of the job search and you need to use every tool at your disposal to make sure it stands out with a crystal clear message.

  • http://www.brand-yourself.com Trace Cohen

    Great advice to anyone! You need to show that this isn't just for self gain but something that you're interested in doing. By using “To” it takes yourself out of the picture and shows that you're a team player who wants to contribute to the company.

    When you're writing your resume, you need to read it from the employers point of view as they will be the ones reading it.

  • http://www.brand-yourself.com Trace Cohen

    A resume is a single piece of paper that is a representation of everything you have done basically in your life. You need to make it as clear as possible to the employer what your goals are and how you can help the company, otherwise you're just a dime a dozen. Your resume is one of the single most important aspects of the job search and you need to use every tool at your disposal to make sure it stands out with a crystal clear message.

  • http://www.brand-yourself.com Trace Cohen

    Great advice to anyone! You need to show that this isn't just for self gain but something that you're interested in doing. By using “To” it takes yourself out of the picture and shows that you're a team player who wants to contribute to the company.

    When you're writing your resume, you need to read it from the employers point of view as they will be the ones reading it.

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  • chandra bose

    This info is really written with providing help for every student! I have bookmarked !
    Objectives Resumes

  • Mallesh

    Nice one