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3 Tips for Writing a Resume Objective

Award-winning writer Kathy Widenhouse has helped hundreds of nonprofits and writers produce successful content and has gained 600K+ views for her writing tutorials. She is the author of 9 books. See more of Kathy’s content here.

Writing your resume may or may not include writing a resume objective.

A resume objective (also called “job target” or “employment objective”) is considered to be a standard part of a resume. (Here are the 5 main parts of a resume.)

But not every job hunter writes one, and it’s an element that is a bit controversial. Some job hunters replace it with a summary statement. Some include both an objective and a summary. Some eliminate both altogether.

What should you do when you write your resume? These tips will help you get it all sorted out. But first …

What Exactly Is a Resume Objective?

3 Tips for Writing a Resume Objective with Word Wise at Nonprofit Copywriter

It’s a brief statement that specifies the kind of position you’re seeking. 

Take a sec to note an important distinction between a resume objective and a resume summary statement. Both offer information at a glance, but the kind of information they offer is different. 

A resume objective points out your career direction (where you’re going – a goal). A resume summary highlights your qualifications (where you’ve been). 

Big difference.  And now to the important question …

Do You Need to Include an Objective in Your Resume? Take a Quick Quiz

Surprise! Not everybody needs one.

If you answer “yes” to any of the following, then it’s a good idea to write a resume objective. 

  • Are you’re an entry-level worker?
  • Do you lack experience in the industry to which you’re applying?
  • Are you changing careers?
  • Are you targeting a specific position?

If you answer “yes” to either of the following, then you may not need one. 

  • Are you on a steady career track?
  • Are you seeking a lateral move?

If you determine that you don’t need to include a resume objective, then leave it out. Include your career goal as part of your summary statement.

But if you decide a resume objective is for you, then the following tips may help you write one like a pro.

Tips for Writing a Resume Objective

Tip #1: Keep It Short

Managers and HR professionals read hundreds of resumes. Make their job easier. Keep your resume objective short and to the point – one sentence only.

Tip #2: Be Specific

  • Tailor It: What industry? What kind of job in that industry? What level of responsibility? Tailor your objective to the specific job that you seek. This is one case that benefits from niche lingo. As you write, use the most specific language you can (“pediatric ICU nurse” over “RN”). Name the job title and the name of the company. If that means tweaking your resume for each application, take the time to do it.
  • Write More Than One: And if you’re pursuing more than one kind of job, construct a separate objective statement for each kind of job. Sure, this is more work, but it demonstrates that you’re serious. 
  • Don't Be Vague: On the opposite end of the spectrum, a vague objective shows you don’t really know what kind of job you want. Employers are not interested in helping you figure out your goals. Instead, they are interested in getting the job done and they want to know if you’re the person who can do it. Use clear language that shows that you can. Steer away from statements that say nothing substantial about your career goal, such as “Objective: a fulfilling role in a team-oriented environment.” (Use this free resume worksheet to figure out your goals.)
  • Run a Self-Check: How do you know if your objective is vague or specific? Read it and ask this question: would any job meet this objective? If the answer is yes, then it is too vague. Rewrite it with more specifics.

Tip #3: List a skill and how you will use it

It’s a practical rule of thumb to follow as you write in order to show the employer WIIFT (What’s In It For Them): list a skill you have and how you will use it. 

Here’s an example: “Dedicated and motivated engineering graduate seeking entry level assistant project manager position.” This statement lists a specific skill (you’ve got an engineering degree; you’re focused on project management) and it shows the employer how you will use it (you’re eager to work hard and get your foot in the door; you understand that your role is to assist those with more experience.)

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