Writing a resume can be one of the most difficult and stressful tasks you’ll perform over the course of your job hunt. This one document holds so much power! It’s typically what recruiters and hiring managers use when deciding whether to move forward with you as a candidate. It’s also where their first impression of you comes from.
When looking at your resume, one of the first things a recruiter or hiring manager might see is your objective, since it’s likely toward the very top, just under your name and contact information. If you include an objective, it’s imperative that it stand out for the right reasons.
An effective resume objective powerfully and succinctly spells out who you are (in terms of your work experience) and where you’re looking to go in your career. It shows at-a-glance how you will provide value to the company.
The Dos and Don’ts of Writing Resume Objectives
Not sure how to handle the writing of a resume objective? We’ve outlined some helpful tips below. We’ve also included word on why you might want to consider skipping having an objective, and instead include a resume summary. More on that below too!
DO: Keep it short and sweet.
Your objective should be descriptive and to-the-point; it should also contain action words. Aim for no more than one or two sentences, and make sure it doesn’t take up more than two lines on the paper. Any more than that and it’s too wordy, and taking up far too much valuable space on your resume. A lengthy objective statement may show that you’re incapable of wrapping up thoughts concisely.
DON’T: Use incomplete sentences.
You don’t want to go too far in the other direction and have your resume objective consist of just a few words. It should at least be a complete thought and not a smattering of adjectives that describe your ideal work situation. Really think about what you want to say, and be economical in your choice of words, but also be sure to create complete thoughts, and make sure it says what you want it to convey. Read it out loud to make sure it makes sense.
Editor's note: If you think you'll need a helping hand with constructing your objective, consider putting LiveCareer's free resume builder to use.
DO: Personalize it for every job application.
While the resume objective statement can, and should, look similar for each application you submit, you may want to/need to consider tweaking it slightly for each application to better fit the company’s mission or the job description at hand.
DON’T: Spend too much time on it.
Your resume objective is an important part of your resume, but there are other sections you’ll need to think about as well, such as your Education, Skills, and Work History sections. If you get stuck crafting your objective, work on another section of your resume, and then return to the objective later.
DO: Show, don’t tell.
Much like you should do throughout your entire resume, don’t just say you’re great—show it! Provide concrete examples and details, and if possible, quantify. For example, you shouldn’t just say you’re an experienced professional who has many accomplishments under their belt.
Instead, try something like: “Experienced medical sales professional who provides surgical supplies to hospitals throughout the Pacific Northwest; manages 12 accounts and in 2016 grew sales totals 23% to $1.2 million."
DON’T: Be unrealistic.
Yes, you’ll want to use your objective statement to really stand out and impress the hiring manager. It is your hook, after all, so it may be tempting to embellish a bit. But don’t! You shouldn’t go over-the-top in trying to sell yourself as the perfect candidate—and you certainly shouldn’t lie.
DO: Consider skipping a resume objective.
Some companies and hiring managers think an objective is passé, outdated, and unnecessary. If you think the hiring manager you’re sending your resume to won’t find an objective necessary, consider leaving the resume objective out altogether. This leads us to our next DO:
DO: Consider including a resume summary.
The resume summary has essentially replaced the resume objective. Why is that? The reason is simple—an objective doesn’t address the business problems/issues that the recruiter or hiring manager is looking to have the new hire solve. A well-written summary can do that—think of it as a marketing tool that concisely informs on who you are and what you’re capable of solving or improving with your experience and skills. Just like an objective, a resume summary should be tailored for each job you’re applying for.
DON’T: Neglect to think about it altogether.
If you choose not to include an objective, that’s fine, but you should give thought about whether it could assist you in getting the hiring manager’s attention. Think about what you would say in an objective, and decide whether it’s worth losing for just a few extra lines of white space.
Should you choose to include one, the objective can speak volumes about the kind of worker you are and the kind of job you think is right for you. However, a lot of people can get tripped up on those few lines of text and end up creating a mess. If you really think about what you want to say about the kind of career you’d like to have, you can—with a little bit of work—craft a succinct, well-written objective statement that will make hiring managers notice your resume.
The same thing is true of the resume summary. More and more job-seekers are going the resume summary route these days. Luckily for you, LiveCareer has a number of resources on how to go about writing a summary. Check them out below:
- How to Write a Resume Summary
- How to Write a Great Resume Summary Statement
- Call to Action: Write an Irresistible Resume Summary Statement