Learn how to use resume objectives the right way

It seems like only yesterday that job seekers were advised to include a career objective statement in their resumes. However, time marches on and now resume objectives have largely taken a backseat to other types of resume profiles like the increasingly popular resume summary or a summary of qualifications. 

Indeed, ditching the objective statement has become something of a trend these days. Of course, that doesn't mean you should never use a resume objective statement. Here, you'll learn

  • Why resume objectives have declined in popularity as job seekers turn to more employer-focused resume profile options

  • When an objective statement may be the best option for your resume 

  • Tips to help you create a resume objective that delivers the right employer-centric message

After all that, you'll see some resume objective examples that you can reference as you create your own resume profile.

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What is a resume objective statement?

If you've never seen a resume objective statement before, chances are that you may not be familiar with this profile option. Resume objectives are like a resume summary in some respects; they are brief summaries of your professional goals, your career experience, and the skills that make you the right candidate for the job. Typically, a resume objective consists of just a few sentences that highlight these key details.

Related reading: Resume Profile Explained (with Examples)

Like other profile types, the objective statement is designed to catch the reader's attention and inspire them to continue reading the rest of the document. As such, it's always placed near the top of the resume, right below your contact information and resume headline or desired job title. 

An objective statement includes your job title, years of experience, and primary career goal. It's also important to include at least one key achievement that demonstrates your potential value.

Here's an example of a traditional objective statement:

Creative Graphic Designer looking to scale new heights of artistic achievement at a dynamic advertising agency. Seeking an opportunity to use content creation and technical design skills to bolster graphic arts team, employing innovative storytelling techniques to drive creative success. Led online content rebranding campaign for local businesses that increased customer engagement by 43%.

Related reading: 17 Resume Tips to Get Seen and Hired Faster

Why have resume objectives lost popularity?

Resume objectives are no longer the go-to option for job candidates who want to start their resumes off with a powerful, attention-grabbing profile summary. There are a number of particularly good reasons to avoid using objective statements, including:

  • Most resume objectives are so focused on the candidate's goals that they fail to target the company or its open position.

  • Employers don't usually care about your long-term career goals and what you hope to get from the position. They're far more interested in what you can do for their company.

  • Objective statements are generally considered to be an outdated resume device. If you include them, you could run the risk of appearing older than you are or just out of touch. Either way, employers may be more likely to set your resume aside and move on to other candidates.

  • The traditional objective statement is redundant. The very fact that you're applying for the position tells the employer that you think the job is in alignment with your career goals. Why state the obvious?

What are the alternatives to a resume objective?

There are two main alternatives to the resume objective: 

  1. The resume summary 

  2. The summary of qualifications

Both serve as brief summaries of your resume and are designed to capture your qualifications in a way that piques an employer's attention. Let's consider each of these options to understand how they differ from each other and the resume objective.

1. Resume summary

A resume summary typically uses three to five sentences that highlight your desired job role, years of experience, skills, and key achievements. The entire paragraph should emphasize your qualifications for the position and highlight the value that you can provide as an employee. 

For example:

Data-driven Marketing Manager with 9 years of experience in team building, project management, budgeting, and resource allocation. Focused on strong communication, collaboration, and relationship-building skills that align marketing goals and stakeholder initiatives with company objectives. Proven success in brand development and market expansion, managing revenue-growing marketing campaigns valued at more than $80M for more than six dozen clients.

2. Summary of qualifications

A summary of qualifications shares many of the same attributes of the resume summary but highlights key details in a different way. Instead of using a paragraph format, this profile option relies on a bullet point presentation to help catch an employer's eye, using five or six bullet points to highlight important qualifications and achievements. 

For example:

  • Data-driven Marketing Manager with 9 years of experience in team building and project management
  • Designed and executed new digital campaigns valued at $20M

  • Successfully led ABC Corp. market expansion, increasing market share by 27%

  • Rebranded XYZ Corp after that company's acquisition of DEF Inc., increasing digital engagement by 40%

  • Reorganized ABC Corp. marketing processes, increasing productivity by 39%

  • Bachelor of Science in Marketing, NewCollege, MyTown, 2014

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When can you use a resume objective?

Even though the resume objective is no longer considered the gold standard for resume profiles, there may be times when a job seeker needs to rely on something other than the common resume summary or summary of qualifications. 

Since those resume profiles tend to highlight skills, experience, and professional achievements, they may not be the best option for:

  • Job seekers who are newcomers to the job market. Resume objectives for students who have recently graduated can often help those candidates capture an employer's attention – if the resume focuses on the employer's needs in the right way.

  • Career changers who need to explain why they're switching roles or industries. When used properly, an objective statement can help define a candidate's career change goals while emphasizing relatable achievements and transferable skills.

  • Candidates who may be seeking employment in a new location. Rather than leave the employer wondering why some out-of-towner is applying for an open position, a well-crafted resume objective statement can explain an intent to move to a new city or state.

If your current job search needs align with one of those situations, then an objective statement may be the best way to convey your qualifications and career desires to an employer. 

However, in most other situations, you'll be better served by relying on either a resume summary or a summary of qualifications. Choose wisely!

Tips for effectively using resume objectives in your resume

So, let's say that you've reviewed your options and determined that your current career needs require the use of a resume objective statement. Does that mean you should rely on the traditional approach that job seekers used to use – simply creating a paragraph that details your current career goals and the benefits you expect to receive if you get hired?

Absolutely not!

The fact is that no employer wants to see a traditional objective statement in a resume. Hiring managers will quickly reject resumes that focus more on the candidate's career goals than the company's hiring needs. 

What they want to see instead is confirmation that you're focused on providing real value for their organization. The key to demonstrating that focus lies in your ability to emphasize career goals that explicitly match the company's needs. The following tips can help you learn how to achieve that goal:

1.    Dissect the job description

Take time to review the job posting to identify the role's responsibilities, duties, and qualifications. Make a list of every duty you'll be required to perform and which skills you'll need to highlight to demonstrate your qualifications for the position. Good job descriptions will usually cite the most important qualifications first, so take special note of any skills and duties that appear at the beginning of the job posting.

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2.    Align your existing skills with those requirements

With that list in hand, it's time to take stock of your own skills, achievements, and knowledge. Make another list of those key qualifications and then start matching them to the job posting's requirements. You may also want to review the company's website to learn more about the company's culture, values, and corporate mission. That can aid you as you work to tailor your objective to present yourself as a great fit for the role and company.

3.    Tailor your objective to the job you're seeking

Never create a generic objective that just states your career goals. Instead, craft a statement that explains your desire to use your skills and experiences to further the company's goals and mission. As a newcomer to the world of marketing, you may aspire to an eventual leadership position – a Marketing Manager or even a VP of Marketing. That's not the goal you need to focus on if you're applying for an associate's position, however. Emphasize how your skills can fill the role you're currently seeking!

4.    Always lead with your strongest traits

Try to lead with strong attributes that powerfully convey your strengths. For example, if you're a self-starter with leadership qualities, don't be afraid to lean into those traits. The goal is to ensure that your objective statement includes accurate descriptions of qualities that make you a great candidate.

5.    Focus on how you can add value to the company

Since employers are primarily interested in what you can do for them, you need to ensure that your resume objective is tightly focused on your potential value as an employee. As you review the job posting, try to identify your unique value proposition.

If you have experience or achievements, emphasize them in terms of the value you can add. If possible, make sure any achievements you include use real numbers to quantify the positive results your actions achieved. On the other hand, if you lack experience but have more than enough requisite skills to succeed, lean into those strengths. Just make sure that your objective paragraph tells a story about real value.

6.    Keep it short but specific

Always remember the average hiring manager only spends a few seconds skimming resumes. If you want to capture attention and make an impact, you need to do so quickly. With that in mind, it's important to keep any objective statement as brief as possible. Use just a few sentences to deliver your message and revise it as many times as you need to eliminate fluff and filler words. Everything you include in this objective should be relevant, meaningful, and compelling.

7.    Make sure every detail is relevant

Relevance is so important that it deserves its own separate mention in these tips. When we talk about relevance, we're specifically referring to details that align with the company's needs. Always remember to include only those details that can best highlight your fitness for the job you're seeking. Skills that might seem impressive to you or your friends won't mean much to hiring managers unless they relate to their open position.

Resume objective examples

We'll end this guide with a look at some hypothetical resume objective examples that you can use as a guide to create your own value-focused objective statement. To use these examples, simply find one that most closely aligns with your needs and customize it with your own resume details.

Resume objective example: Software Developer

“Innovative Software Developer seeking a position as a programmer with DynaTech. Recent graduate of Software University with three years of experience collaborating with community-based companies to create growth-oriented software solutions and mobile applications. Eager to join DynaTech's fast-paced team of cutting-edge talent, using my knowledge and creativity to help maximize results by leveraging superior code knowledge and creativity.”

Resume objective example: Accountant

“Attention-oriented accounting professional seeking an entry-level Accountant position with Big Numbers Accounting. Experienced in financial analysis, balance sheet and financial statement preparation, and accounting report management. Proficient with industry-standard accounting software, with a specialty in data analysis and forensic audits.”

Resume objective example: Registered Nurse

“Patient-focused Registered Nurse seeking a position with Patient Care Clinic. Three years of experience as a CNA, with proven dedication to clinical best practices and protocols, effective communication between all stakeholders, and compassionate care. Ready to work with a similarly dedicated team of healthcare providers committed to providing quality care to our community.”

Resume objective example: Account Manager

“Experienced project manager focused on attention to detail, revenue generation, and effective client management. Seeking an opportunity to use extensive knowledge, team building skills, and client-centric management approach in an Account Manager role with ABC Corp. Proven leadership, having successfully managed more than three dozen client accounts, doubling revenue over a two-year period.”

Resume objective example: IT Manager

“Data-driven information technology expert seeking a management position with AAA Tech to leverage technology knowledge and managerial skills to further the company's goals and vision. Experienced IT solution developer, project lead, and team builder focused on aligning technological capabilities with operational needs.”

Resume objective example: Data Analyst

“Recent graduate with Bachelor's in Data Science with Data Analyst certification seeking Data Analyst role with ABC Corp. Skilled in computer programming, analytical tools and techniques, and big data analysis. Two years' experience with big data management for three customer databases. Eager to apply analytical skills and experience to further ABC Corp.'s data management needs.”

Resume objective example: Bank Branch Manager

“Experienced bank teller with ten years of experience in customer account management and extensive knowledge of branch operations seeking position as Branch Manager with ABC Bank. Successful track record of managing expenses, dedication to company values and mission, and commitment to building customer brand loyalty. Eager to apply those skills and experience in a management role that furthers ABC Bank's financial goals while expanding its community reach and impact.”

Resume objective example: Office Manager

“Experienced administrative expert seeking a role as Office Manager with ABC Corp. Offer six years of experience in administrative and management roles plus skills in office organization, customer account management, client service, scheduling, and leadership. Looking for an opportunity to leverage skill sets to optimize operational efficiency in alignment with corporate goals.”

If you're going to use resume objectives, make sure you use them the right way!

While the resume objective has lost much of its luster, it can still be used to great effect if you can avoid focusing too much on your own career goals. By turning that focus to the employer's needs, you can more effectively use this resume profile option to send the right message to employers – which can help make the positive impression you need to secure those key interviews and increase your chances of landing a lucrative job offer.

Still not sure whether resume objectives are the right choice for your job search needs? Our expert resume writers have the knowledge and experience needed to help you answer any of your career questions. Get your free resume review now!

This article was originally written by Carrie Maldonado. It's been updated by Ken Chase.

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