Writing a career objective can be a tricky task – My First Job Survey by Monster.com revealed that a majority of job seekers find the career objective section the hardest part of resume writing (32%). It even outranks explaining a career gap (17%), which is also considered tough.
If you’re searching for your first job, don’t skip this section. Stating your objectives on your resume is especially important because you don’t have enough work history to define your goals. A career objective allows you to highlight personality traits and transferable skills that make you the right fit for the position. By beginning your resume with a quality that makes you valuable to the company, you’ll immediately capture the hiring manager’s attention.
Broadly, a career objective is a short summary telling a hiring manager that you have the relevant skills, abilities and experience to help the company achieve its goals. Placed directly under your contact information and ahead of your education and experience, it’s the first thing a recruiter will see when scanning your resume. Get it right, and you’ll ensure that your CV makes it to the ‘yes’ pile.
For writing an effective career objective, here are a few key things to keep in mind:
Focus on what the employer wants
One of the reasons why this section has received such a bad rap is because there’s some amount of confusion about whose objectives have to be met. Is it meant to highlight what you get out of the job or what you can bring to it?
To clarify this once and for all – a career objective should NOT be telling the hiring manager what you want from the company, i.e how it will help your career. That information can go in your cover letter. Your career objective section should focus on the skills and abilities you possess that can help you successfully fulfill the responsibilities of the position being advertised. Because at this stage in the hiring process, it’s all about what the employer wants (as opposed to what you want, which can be explored at the interview stage).
Don’t just use nice words to describe yourself
A career objective should highlight traits that will be valued by the company. For instance, if you were a student body president in college, you can mention that the experience helped you gain leadership, management or organisational skills. Or if you were an active sportsperson, you can say you’re disciplined, good with strategy and a team player. If you have exceptional academic achievements (i.e. you made it to the merit list), work that in as well.
One career objective doesn’t fit all jobs
A hiring manager for a position in a public relations company may be less interested in your analytical ability but keen to know how your public speaking abilities are. So ensure the skills you highlight in your career objective are specifically targeting the role and industry that you’re applying for. Be sure to focus on skills or traits that the employer mentions in the job description. Also, check that the traits you claim to have are featured in more detail on your resume.
Don’t be vague
Hiring managers have very little time to review resumes; if they find your objectives are vague and don’t match their requirements, they will immediately move onto the next candidate. So an objective that reads – “Looking for a exciting position with potential for progress” just doesn’t cut it.
Sample career objective
Every career objective should cover these three points:
• Include your years of work experience; if you have none, mention your educational degree.
• Describe your strongest quality (one that can be demonstrated) and how it connects to the role you are applying for.
• Mention how you’re focused on achieving company goals.
With this in mind, you could say: I’m an MBA with six months internship experience at a multinational company. I believe that I have both the academic knowledge and work experience to fill this management trainee position. A diligent worker, I’m committed to attaining your company goals and would be happy to take on more duties as quickly as possible.
Need help crafting your career objective? Click here to get expert advice.