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

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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.

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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.