Objective: To Win the Job of Your Dreams Print E-mail

by Alesia Benedict, CPRW, JCTC

Objectively speaking, identifying your career goal is an integral component to formulating the best strategy for a great resume. 

Think of your resume as a short story narrative representing your career. If you are the main character and your work history is the plot, the central theme is your professional objective. After all, everything in a resume is presented strategically with the ultimate goal of attaining a new job.

That dream job has a title, and hopefully, that title will be yours. First, however, you need to grab the attention of prospective employers. Though it only comprises a few words at the top of a resume, the short objective title reflects a great deal of significant information that can make a huge difference to get a resume noticed. 

Long-Winded Objective Statements are Passé
A common component of a resume once looked something like this:

“Objective: To obtain a position utilizing my skills in accounting…”

Today’s resume instead replaces this wordy description with an impactful heading, such as “Senior Accountant” or “Accounting Professional.” It’s simple, yet extremely effective. This less verbose format helps HR staff members immensely, as it immediately identifies the job for which you are applying. While a small office may have only one position open, larger companies typically have dozens positions vacant across various departments.

Not only does this format cut down on time for the reader, but it also creates space on the resume that can be used more efficiently in the form of a hard-hitting summary of your skills rather than a boring, antiquated paragraph. 

Never Omit an Objective
What if you are open to a broad range of positions? In this economy, lots of once-picky professionals have had to seek employment outside their respective industries to just pay the bills. In a quest to avoid limitations, it may be tempting to skip the objective statement altogether, but it’s still a terrible idea.

First, a job seeker should never make employers dig for the position being sought. While you may very well be qualified for more than one open position at a company, you won’t be doing yourself any favors by sending in a resume with no objective and expecting employers to match you with positions that may suit you. Remember, hiring managers are already overwhelmed sifting through piles of resumes, and their goal is to fill positions, not serve as a personal career counselor.  Even recruiters, who earn a living placing qualified professionals, may not have the time to figure out your career path for you.

Only you can decide what career path you want to take, so be sure to send a confident message to prospective employers by defining your professional role for yourself. You will not be a match for every position, and that’s fine. By not defining yourself professionally, however, you won’t appear to be a match for any position, much less convey an image that you are the best candidate. That’s why it’s important to identify your career goal by always including an objective.

Don’t Get Pigeon-Holed
While some job seekers fall into the trap of casting too wide a net, others err to the other extreme by choosing a scope that is far too narrow. For example, if the Chief Operating Officer of a mid-sized manufacturing firm now seeks a similar position within the same industry, he may be open to a position of similar salary and responsibility with a different title. However, by indicating an objective as specific as COO, many larger companies may not take a second look even though he would be a great match for a Senior VP position.

Picking a general objective title, such as “Executive Management: Manufacturing”, gives the resume appeal for a wider range of positions and titles while maintaining a focus within the desired sector. 

Choosing a broader title also allows the job seeker to maintain only one resume document to apply for a wide range of positions.

Customize If You Have Specifics

For job seekers who do not mind putting in a little extra work, the objective title may, of course, be tailored for a particular position when specifics are on hand. If you know there’s an opening for a Software Developer, go ahead and use that as the objective title. If not, a general title such as IT Professional will do just fine.

This applies when a job seeker is remaining within the same industry, but if a candidate is open to widely differing career paths, changing just the objective title will not be enough.

An assistant department store manager who worked his way through nursing school ideally wants a job in a healthcare environment. However, he would be willing to accept a position in retail management. In this case, two very different fields and roles are being targeted, so two resume versions would be the more effective strategy to maximize his chances of landing interviews in each field. 

Knowing what positions you intend to target with your new resume is a crucial step in not only the resume development process, but in your career path as well. After all, if you do not know who you are as a professional, you certainly cannot expect a prospective employer to make that determination for you. Focus the resume on a primary objective to zone in on your dream job.