Resume Objective Examples and Step-By-Step Guide
Resumes pass or fail depending on their objective statements. Read this guide to set your resume up for success and prevent it from getting tossed aside from the get-go.
Your resume objective is often the first thing hiring managers look at and is meant to captivate their interest – drawing them in to read the rest of your resume. Nailing this element of your resume is crucial towards marketing yourself as the perfect fit for the job.
A resume objective is sometimes referred to as:
- A career objective
- A resume header (different from resume headlines)
- An objective statement
After reading this article, if you feel you still need additional help with writing your objective statement or your resume as a whole, our resume writing services may be worth it for you.
A resume objective is the first section on your resume under your name and contact information. It’s designed to be the very first thing recruiters look at.
At its simplest level, your objective is a very short blurb to show the reader that you can add value to their organization. It does not:
- Describe your hopes and dreams
- Focus on what you want from a career
- Include vague, trite statements
- Stay the same for every application
Rather, your objective summarizes the parts of your education, experience, and character that are most relevant to the particular position you are applying for. It shows the reader that you want the job, and you can do the job. It gets them to keep reading.
In a way, a resume objective is like a distilled version of your cover letter. But not all recruiters will read cover letters, and they will spend less than a minute scanning your resume. A strong objective statement attracts interest and convinces the recruiter to take a closer look at you.
Does my resume need an objective statement?
Considering that resumes are very space-constrained, it can be difficult to justify adding an “Objective” section. And since everything in an objective statement can be included in a short and sweet cover letter, it can feel redundant.
There are various schools of thought regarding objective statements on resumes. In the past, they’ve gotten a bad rap because so many people write them poorly. And while even a well-written statement repeats some of the same information as your cover letter, they are the most recruiter-friendly part of your entire presentation.
Imagine looking through hundreds of applications for a new hire. You’re a busy person; you don’t have time to read three pages of content from each applicant. However, you do have time to read two or three sentences. If those sentences catch your attention, you’ll be hooked enough to spend a little bit more time checking out the rest of the resume.
As you can see, the top two inches of your resume are prime real estate to set the stage for who you are. And if you do it right, you’ll interest recruiters enough that they’ll want to learn more about you.
How to write a resume objective: General principles
Keep it short:Your statement will be about three sentences long. If you find you have too much information to realistically organize into that space, use the cover letter to flesh it out. While cover letters also need to be short, they are generally a few paragraphs instead of a few sentences – much easier
Keep it impersonal: This might seem like strange advice, but your objective statement isn’t a letter. It’s part of your resume. So you’re not going to be using “I” statements like you would in a cover letter. There won’t be explanations. It’s going to be cold, hard facts distilled into just a few words.Bad example:
I am an executive assistant with experience working for many types of executives.Good example:
Experienced executive assistant for multiple C-suite titles.
Keep it relevant: Study the job posting and include only elements that pertain to it. You’re not going to talk about your past experience as a first-grade teacher when applying for a position as a chef. Similarly, you wouldn’t include your IT skills in a position that asks for customer service skills.
How to write a resume objective: Elements
Most career objective statements include four elements:
- Position name and company applying to
- Value you offer potential employer
Let’s look at each of these in turn.
Also known as “soft skills,” traits are life skills that can’t be taught. Think of them as character traits or personality traits transferable to a place of employment.
Recruiters want people with skill sets that match the actual job posting, but they also want people who are just generally good employees. People who get along with others, come to work on time, and go above and beyond. Here are some other examples of traits:
- Hard working
- A team player
- Good at communicating
The list goes on.
Since we know recruiters want people with these traits, we often make the mistake of claiming them in our objective statement. And that can be a problem.
Recruiters are tired of everyone claiming they’re model citizens. They have no idea if you’re truly a team player or if you’re just saying what they want to hear.
Unless you can back up a soft skill with provable experience, it shouldn’t enter your objective statement – and even then, it can muddy the waters with trite words everyone uses.Bad example:
Detail-oriented quality control specialist.Good example:
Top quality control specialist with a 99.5% record. (This proves the “detail-oriented” aspect without just claiming the trait.)Bad example:
Good team player.Good example:
Successfully completed challenging projects by partnering with team members.
But be careful: Even if you can demonstrate a soft skill, your objective statement may not be the place to mention it.
Why? Because your objective statement is tailored to the job posting.
Let’s say the posting states that the company is looking for a person with good communication skills – and you have them. If you can find a provable way to share this in the objective, go ahead.
But if the posting says nothing about needing a person with good communication skills, there’s no reason to talk about them (at least not in the objective statement.) Everything in the objective statement should be relevant to the job posting.
Takeaway: Look in the job posting for traits that match yours. Prove it in your objective statement.
Hold to these principles when describing skills in an objective statement:
Don’t include skills irrelevant to the job posting.
(For example, don’t talk about your extensive customer service experience when applying for a data entry position.)
Don’t claim to have skills you can’t back up with experience or education.
(For example, don’t say you can do a company’s taxes if your only experience is with your personal TurboTax. It doesn’t mean you can’t apply for the position; you may have other experience relevant to other duties required.)
Don’t overdo it. Lists of skills may be impressive, but they can overwhelm the reader to the point of being meaningless, even if they are relevant to the position. Include only your strongest points.
(For example, don’t say “detail-oriented hardworking motivated team player and business major seeking a receptionist position in a challenging, forward-moving, open-minded, people-oriented diverse environment like [company name]. where I can use my experience with data entry, customer service, research, logistics, business writing, and project management.”)
Organize your statement well. Believe it or not, you can pack a lot of information into a short space and still make it reader-friendly if you word it right.
“Experienced customer service professional seeking receptionist position in a community-centered environment like [company name]. Ready to contribute logistics, business writing, and phone service skills.)
Takeaway: Your priorities are brevity, relevancy, and readability. Cut what doesn’t fit. Reword and reorganize if necessary.
3. Position name and company applying to
This may seem obvious, but a resume objective should state that you want the job you’re applying for. Recruiters should feel like you wrote your resume specifically to apply to their position at their company. So you need to mention the position itself.
For example, if are applying for a position as a project manager and you have past experience in that role, call yourself a project manager. For that particular objective statement, “Project manager” is already your job title. By mentioning it, you prove that you know exactly what you’re applying to. You’ve carefully considered whether or not you would be a good fit for the role, and concluded that you should definitely apply.
Recruiters are tired of people blanketing their desks with resumes just because they’re looking for any job. They want to feel like an applicant has looked at other job postings and rejected them – but they’re excited to apply for this particular one. Blanket resumes waste recruiters’ time, and they don’t like that.
Bad example: Seeking to apply my skills in a position at a good company. Good example: Seeking a marketing position at Acme Corporation.
A little effort goes a long way.
Takeaway: Show that your intentions are specific to what the company wants.
Value you offer potential employer
While it may seem that each of the previously mentioned three elements – traits, skills, and position details – are evidence that you offer value to the company, it is possible to state them in a way that sounds boring and even self-centered.
For example, an objective statement isn’t just a description; it has a point. It’s moving toward a literal objective, and that objective is the position. Think of it as a story rather than a portrait.
Once you have this mindset, you’ll be able to offer the employer value instead of just stating it. For example:
Experienced with data entry and research.
Seeking to transfer data entry and research experience as a [position] at [company].
Notice that the first statement is just the applicant talking about themselves. The second statement contains the same information, but it has a purpose.
Takeaway: Direct content toward a purpose.
How to write a resume objective: Format
Your objective answers three questions recruiters are asking:
Who are you?
What can you do?
What do you want?
It’s best to start with the first question: Who are you?
This is where you share a trait (soft skill) and share your title. It’s going to be the first part of the first sentence. For example:
Successful sales agent… People-oriented administrative professional…
Note that these example phrases are just the beginning of what you want to say
Next question: What can you do?
Here is where you show what you can bring to the table. For example:
Ready to use my BA in business administration to advance company objectives.
Finally, the third question – What do you want? – should be handled with care. It can be tricky to share your own goals without sounding self-centric, but it can be done. Here’s an example:
Seeking a fast-paced, challenging environment in which to grow my existing skills.
While the objective statement contains answers to these questions, it doesn’t have to dedicate one sentence to each answer, though it’s good to keep the “Who” at the start. Here’s an example of a single sentence objective statement:
Strong business writer seeking to meet [company’s] need for [position] and to use my communication skills in a fast-paced environment.
While this doesn’t contain a lot of information, it can be all that’s needed depending on what the job posting asks for and what you have to offer.
Resume objective examples: Different life stages
Depending on where you are in your life, your objective will emphasize different information.
For example, high school students often have difficulty composing objectives because they lack experience or higher education, while recent college graduates have the education, but not much relevant work experience. Here are some tips and examples to help you compose your statement, regardless of your stage in your career journey.
Standard resume objective
If you already have work experience under your belt, your resume objective will follow the standard format. Feel free to mention your past education if relevant – but your emphasis is what you bring to the company based on your work experience.
CPA with 5 years industry experience with history managing company internal audits for mergers & acquisitions. Seeking to join [company] in goals to move forward.
High school student
Emphasize special activities, volunteering, and honors. If your career goals are in line with the job you’re applying for, mention your plan to pursue education in that area. This objective statement shows recruiters two facts:
1. You’re a good student, so you’ll probably be a good employee.
2. You are passionate about the job to the extent you want to pursue it as a career.
AP high school senior involved in multiple extracurricular activities. Responsible student with 4.0 GPA. Seeking to start career in restaurant business through an entry level server position at [company] and enrolling in [college] to pursue higher education in business.
Recent high school graduate
Similarly, if you’ve just graduated high school, you probably don’t have work experience. Again, you’ll mention your history of extracurricular activities, your GPA if it’s high, and any honors or accolades you received.
If you are enrolled in college but haven’t started yet, say so. This shows forward movement on your part.
Some high school students take a “gap year” before starting college, so if you aren’t enrolled yet, mention your future plans for a higher degree and your time frame.
Honors 4.0 GPA high school graduate with a history of extracurricular activities. Voted “Most likely to succeed” by student body. Plan to enroll in a BA of English Literature program at [college] in autumn 2021. Seeking a journalist internship to start career at [company].
Current college student
Again, include any special accomplishments and a good GPA, if applicable. It looks good if you’re at the end of your degree program, so if you’re a senior, include that and mention the career you want to pursue, as well as any higher education you plan to enroll in.
Senior TESOL major at [college] elected 2019 class president with 4.0 GPA. Volunteer experience teaching English to recent immigrants. Seeking to equip non-native speakers with skills to succeed in an environment like [company].
Recent college graduate
If you’ve recently graduated college, your objective statement will follow nearly the same principles as an enrolled college student. But this time, you’ll emphasize the completion of your degree as evidence that you’re prepared to move forward.
Recent graduate of [college] with 4.0 degree in finance. Success in class projects involving mock investment scenarios. Seeking to continue career as a stock broker at [company].
Resume examples: Different career tracks
Depending on the field you pursue, you need to be familiar with the priorities of industry employers.
A great way to indicate your familiarity with the industry is to use keywords pulled them from the job listing. Let’s say the company wants a customer service representative with experience in durable medical equipment. You’ll prove you know the field by using industry terms and relevant examples.
Successful service representative with expertise in DME assisting customers pursuing reimbursement from insurance. Seeking to partner with [company] in serving individuals who use mobility accommodations.
Let’s look at example resume objectives for some major industries.
Possible key terms: Administrative assistant, executive assistant, office management, front desk management, data entry, organizational skills, office supply inventory, logistics.
Experienced receptionist with proven history of assisting and routing callers. Managed incoming and outgoing correspondence for all departments. Seeking expansion of office responsibilities as an office manager at [company].
Possible key terms: Product knowledge, establishing relationships with clients, conversion rate, numbers proving sales success or customer satisfaction rate.
Highest-ranking sales representative in 2019 with 70% conversion rate. Specialize in cold calling potential customers and upselling existing clients. Seeking to increase revenue for [company] as a sales representative.
Retail / Cashier
Possible key terms: Associate, team member, inventory, product knowledge, customer service, till.
Professional retail associate in major department store with experience managing inventory, keeping current on new products, and assisting customers. Seeking to enhance customer experience at [company].
Education / Teaching
Possible key terms: Students, tutor, educate, empower, grow, improve.
Career math tutor with history improving student success an average of one full letter grade. Seeking to leverage data scientist degree as statistician professor at [school].
Medical / Dental
Possible key terms: Patients, patient experience, medical professional, HIPAA, nursing, care.
Licensed MA with experience managing high patient volume in fast-paced office. Currently enrolled in CAN program at [school]. Seeking CAN position in [hospital] ED.
Finance / Banking
Possible key terms: Accounts, teller, investment, record keeping, accuracy.
Investment broker with experience managing high-profile accounts upwards of $1 million. Seeking to further [company’s] interests by improving investment portfolio.
Possible key terms: Restaurant, service, fast-paced, dining.
Head server with 3 years excellent time management skill demonstrated at busy upscale restaurant. Specialize in anticipating diners’ needs and upselling add-ons. Seeking a team member position in a fast-paced sit-down dining establishment like [company].
Possible key terms: IT, hardware, software, developing, design, project.
IT specialist with 4 years experience at major software corporation. Specialize in leading teams for successful project management and completion. Seeking to assist [company] with technology efficiency and software streamlining.
As you can see, there are dozens of ways to format your resume objective.
But regardless of your education or career, every objective has the same goal: Show the company what you offer. And as we saw, the best way to do this is to study the job posting and tailor your objective to the company’s interests.
While objectives may have different emphases – such as student performance or volunteer experience – there is always something you can use to illustrate your competency as a good employee.
Remember, your objective statement answers three questions:
Who are you?
What can you do?
What do you want?
And don’t forget that your statement shows forward movement and adds value to the employer.
With these basic principles and examples, it won’t be difficult to compose an attractive resume objective for every position you apply to! And with your new skills, you’ll draw recruiters from spending five seconds on your resume to five minutes. And with any luck, they’ll pick up the phone and call you for an interview!
Bottom line: Optimize your job search with a stellar resume objective.
Good luck in your career goals!