By Mike Simpson
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We all know what they are.
We all know how important having a good one is…and how much a bad one can hurt your ability to get your dream job.
We also know we aren’t the only ones out there turning in well crafted, carefully targeted resumes to hiring managers…
(If you aren’t turning in a well-crafted resume, you may want to read our blog post “How To Make a Resume 101” first.)
Unfortunately for you, for every available job out there in the real world, there are hundreds, if not thousands of very qualified people applying…and odds are, there are more than a few really knock-dead resumes in that pile.
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Of course, there are also a mountain of bad ones that won’t even make the first cut. But of those that do…how do you make sure yours stands out?
You could always go for the Elle Woods approach. Remember in the movie Legally Blonde when our spunky and upbeat heroine hands her resume off to her professor in the hopes of securing that killer summer internship?
Professor Callahan: It’s pink…
Elle: Oh! And it’s scented! I think it gives it a little something extra…don’t you think?
We have to admit, that is one way to make an impression with a hiring manager…however, outside Hollywood fantasies where the hero always gets their way (or in this case, the internship), odds are your pink scented resume is going to end up either in the trash or on the bulletin board “Wall of Shame” as an example of what NOT to send in to a hiring manager.
So put away your sparkle pens, cap your smelly perfume, and sit back because we’re going to help you stand out from the crowd…for all the right reasons.
And I promise you, no pink paper.
Instead we’re going to focus on your objective.
What is a Resume Objective?
My objective? Well, that’s easy. My objective is to get the job.
Absolutely…we couldn’t agree more…but an objective on your resume is so much more than just writing “Hey, hire me. I’m super awesome.”
So what is an objective for a resume?
A resume objective is a short, targeted statement that clearly outlines your career direction while simultaneously positioning you as someone who fits what the employer is looking for exactly. Your objective is carefully researched and tailored to fit the job you’re applying for.
In other words…it’s not a generic cry to hire you, it’s a very specific, very targeted way to point to yourself and say “Hey, why waste your time with all these other resumes when what you’re looking for is right here in front of you?” It’s a quick summary of where you’ve been so far in your career and also where you want to go with the company you are applying to.
Sounds pretty ingenious, right? So why don’t more people have them on their resumes?
Resume objectives can be a bit controversial. Some people think they can make you look amateurish…which if you don’t do it correctly, is absolutely true…but that can be said for any section of your resume.
Other schools of thought think that the objectives should be taken out entirely and replaced with the more popular “resume summary statement.”
Before we go any further, I want to stop you right now.
A “Resume Objective” and “Resume Summary Statement” are NOT interchangeable.
They are, in fact, two very different things and should not be confused. And don’t worry, we promise, we will have much more info on resume summary statements, what they are and how to use them…but that’s another blog post.
For now, we’re still focusing on resume objectives.
Oh no, now you’ve got me scared! What if I use a resume objective and the hiring manager looks at it and laughs at me? Are they going to throw out my resume…or worse, put it on the wall of shame?
Whoa, there, nervous Nelly! Slow your roll down the slippery slopes of Mt. Panic. Nobody is going to laugh at your resume objective as long as you make sure to follow our wise, time tested words of advice.
First off, we need to figure out what sort of job seeker you are.
When Should You Use a Resume Objective?
Are you relatively new to the job search market or lack work experience?
Are you changing industries?
Are you targeting a specific job or position?
If you answered “YES” to any of these above questions, then the resume objective is perfect for you!
If you answered “NO” to all of the above questions, you might not need to have an objective on your resume and can consider trying out the alternative “Resume Summary Statement.”
Remember, more on that later…but keep reading anyway…not only is this article well written, snappy, and occasionally funny, you might just learn something that can help you with your resume regardless of your experience level. Not only that, but you’re getting our Hiring Manager Certified “Resume Objective Cheat Sheet” for free! Click here to get the “Resume Objective Cheat Sheet” now .
For those of you in the middle of a career change or who might just be starting out, a resume objective statement allows you to define your goal to a potential employer…something that your work history (or lack thereof) might not otherwise be able to do for you.
Makes sense, right?
Imagine how confused a hiring manager would be if they were looking for candidates to fill an office coordinator position and you sent in a resume with 10 years of experience in marketing.
Without an objective statement, the hiring manager might just assume your resume has been accidentally sent to them and simply discard it.
An objective statement on a resume being submitted for a career changing position can only help you.
You can not only use to let the hiring manager know that yes, your resume IS in the right spot, but also to help clearly explain that you’re making the switch and show that your skill set, although not traditionally associated with the job you’re now applying for, does in actuality translate and aligns with this new career path.
If you’re targeting a specific job or position, a resume objective statement can help reinforce that idea as well as ensure that the hiring manager knows EXACTLY what you’re after…not just the generic “I wanna work for your company because I think it’ll be cool so I’ll take any job you happen to have open.”
Overall, and most importantly, the biggest reason to put an objective on your resume is…it’s better than having nothing.
Remember, your goal is to catch the hiring manager’s eye and stand out from the rest of the paper in that pile.
“Okay, you’ve convinced me. I’m going to put my statement on my resume. What should I write?”
Let’s start out with what NOT to write.
Common Resume Objective Mistakes
There are several common mistakes job seekers can make when writing their statement with the number one being using the same objective for every job application.
1) Using the Same Objective For Every Job Application
EXAMPLE: To obtain a job within my chosen field that will challenge me and allow me to use my education, skills and past experiences in a way that is mutually beneficial to both myself and my employer and allow for future growth and advancement.
Your goal is to be the ideal candidate and that means making sure you’re exactly what the hiring manager is looking for…and unless you’re applying to a cookie cutter factory in a cookie cutter job town where every job every employer is listing is exactly the same then I guarantee you 100% that your statement will NOT be a “one size fits all” statement.
2) Making It All About You
This is a trap that many job seekers fall into, as they can’t resist to use the objective to list off all of the things that they want to get out of the position.
EXAMPLE: Hi, I’m Joe Jobseeker and I really want a job in a company where I make a ton of money doing as little as possible. Oh, and a corner office. A company car would be nice too. While we’re at it, let’s talk benefits, retirement…and the company vacation policy.
Yes, we’re being over the top with this one, but we need you to look at this and laugh…because even a slightly toned down one where you list only what YOU want is going to come off just as ridiculous to the hiring manager as the one we’ve blown out of proportion.
3) Being Too Vague
Mistake number three is being vague. Like we said, this isn’t a one size fits all so by being ambiguous in the hopes of somewhat fitting what they’re looking for is going to get your resume sent directly to the circular file. (In case you don’t know, the circular file is the trash can. It just sounds fancier but the end result is the same…no job.)
EXAMPLE: Looking for a long term full time job where I can apply my extensive skills and knowledge to the position for which I am hired.
Blah. Who is this person? All we know by reading this statement is that they have skills and knowledge…but other than that, not much else. What skills do they have? Do they really apply to the job? And what knowledge can they draw from that will benefit the company? See what we mean? It’s so generic you could literally fit anything into those blanks…it’s like Resume Mad Libs!
4) Going On… And On… And On… And On… and zzzzzzzzzzzzz….
Mistake number four is being too long. This isn’t a novel. It’s a quick little blurb to catch their attention so they can bring you in for an interview…then you can get into more detail!
EXAMPLE: Not going to put one here. Why? Because the example we were going to do was going to be so long and ridiculous that you and everyone else reading this post would just get bored and move onto another article. Just remember, it’s all about short and sweet. Anything over a sentence or two is TOO LONG. Remember that.
5) Adding Absolutely No Value
Mistake number five is probably the worst…and the easiest to fall into (outside of mistake number two, the “all about me” statement.) Mistake number five is writing a statement that basically fills space but doesn’t tell the hiring manager anything about the value you bring to the table. This can also be confused with the too vague statement…
EXAMPLE: To obtain a position within my chosen field where I can utilize my skills as a hard-working, well-educated employee in exchange for a steady market-fair paycheck.
Congratulations. You’re educated and you’re hard working and you want to make money. So what? So are 90% of the people you’re going up against. Why are YOU the ideal candidate? What makes the hiring manager want to bring YOU in over everyone else? See what we mean?
AND MOST IMPORTANTLY:
How are you going to fulfill the needs of the company?
When writing your resume objective, you should always have the intention of answering this question.
How To Write An Effective Resume Objective
So how do you write a GOOD resume objective?
One thing every one of these bad examples has in common (besides being grounds for circular file status) is the fact that not a single one of them is tailored to the position you’re looking for.
Any hiring managers who looks at a resume with objectives like those in our bad examples are going to immediately toss them into the trash and move onto the next candidate.
Why? Because whoever those potential hires are, they’re not ideal candidates.
You need to not only catch the hiring manager’s eye…you need to make sure that they look at your statement and say “Whew! Finally! After all those other resumes…HERE is one where the applicant not only knows what we’re looking for…but they’re the PERFECT FIT! Quick! Let’s get them on the phone and set up a face to face!”
Okay, enough with the bad resume objective samples! Do you know what I really need? I need to know how to write an objective for my resume that will get me noticed!
Fine. We’ll do it your way…as long as you promise to write your resume objectives our way!
Start out your statement by being specific! Make sure it’s tailored to not only the position, but the company as well.
Are you applying to five jobs? You should have five objective statements. Ten jobs? Ten statements. Two hundred jobs? Two hundred statements. Get the idea?
Focus on how you’re a benefit to the company…not how the company can benefit you.
Keep it valuable…that is…make sure you point out what you bring to the table.
Keep it short and sweet, and leave the old, tired adjectives at home. Your resume objective is a wonderful place to start inserting some action verbs, which will help “raise the energy levels” of your objective and ensure that it is more dynamic and interesting.
(We’ve written an entire other blog post on action verbs and have included a great list of examples. Head over to “68 Dynamic Action Verbs to Enhance Your Resume” now to make sure you are using them properly.)
If you’re someone who is changing careers, make sure you work in how your past experiences can relate to your future tasks…the same goes for those who are just starting out or who are relatively inexperienced.
So let’s take a look at a few GOOD sample resume objectives:
Here is a good sample resume objective for someone who is in the middle of a career change:
This is a good example because it hits on everything we discussed above. It’s specific. We know exactly who this person is (former campaign manager), what company they’re applying to (Pacific 2.1), both how they benefit the company (experience) and what value they bring (background in crisis management, departmental organization and mass communication) and best of all, it’s short and to the point.
In just a few words this individual has taken what might seem like a totally unrelated field and shown how the skills and experiences they have directly translate to the job they’re applying for. Brilliant!
Here’s another good resume objective for a career path change:
Again, short, sweet and to the point. This individual outlines their past in the health care industry and manages to make their skills and experience relate to animation!
For someone who is less experienced or just starting out, here’s a simple resume objective:
Not bad, not bad. Again, targeted to the company (Dyna Tech, LLC.) as well as the position (entry level quality control manager) and lets the hiring manager know who they are (recent graduate…which would help to explain an otherwise light looking resume!)
Here’s another sample resume objective statement for someone just starting out:
Are you starting to see a pattern here? Yes? Good!
Finally, what about someone with a ton of experience looking to target their resume to a specific position?
Wow. Talk about dead on! This statement is everything a good resume objective statement needs to be! Direct, targeted, specifically tailored to fit the position and concise!
Putting It All Together
So there you have it. We’ve covered what a resume objective statement is, who should use one, and how to properly execute it.
While some people might claim that the objective statement for a resume is outdated and old fashioned, if done properly, it can mean the difference between being on the top of the pile and ending up in the circular file.
For people with more experience, the resume summary approach is the way to go, but for job seekers who are changing careers, targeting a specific job, or feel that their resumes lack the skills and experience that make them stand out, an objective statement is a quick and easy way to ensure that the hiring manager knows at a glance who you are, where you’ve been and where you plan to go with your career…no pink paper or perfume needed!
FREE: Resume Objective PDF Cheat Sheet
Ok the next thing you should do is get our handy Resume Objective Cheat Sheet PDF.
In it you'll get word-for-word sample resume objectives covering a variety of scenarios you can use right away.