Resume Job Objectives: Do’s, Don’ts, and Samples
Written by Neil O’Donnell
Published July 24th, 2017
As a professional resume writer, I can say that the resume job objective is a tool generally used ineffectively on resumes.
From a technical standpoint, a job objective on a resume tells a reader what job you’re applying to at a specific company. Therein lies a major stumbling block for students and seasoned professionals alike.
Most internship seekers who add a job objective to their resume focus their objective on long-term achievements, or states of mind, or enlightenment more appropriate for philosophical discussion.
Check out the following resume job objective example for clarification:
Resume Objective Example #1
JOB OBJECTIVE: To attain a position which will allow me to grow and reach my fullest potential.
That’s fairly typical for the job objectives I’ve encountered in my professional experience, including my time on hiring committees reviewing countless resumes.
What is wrong with that resume objective statement?
- First, that job objective doesn’t specify the job the applicant is applying for. You’d be amazed how often resumes get sent in, without a cover letter, and the objective is either not there or it doesn’t mention the job the applicant is seeking. This gets frustrating in businesses with multiple job vacancies, many of which are similar in responsibilities.
- A second issue with the example above is that it’s vague and confusing. Grow towards what? What are your potential strengths in which to achieve your full potential? This is fairly typical of the job objectives I encounter, and as you can imagine, the objectives typically do nothing but take up space better spent on listing specific accomplishments you completed at current or past jobs.
RESUME OBJECTIVE TIP: Specifying the job sought is crucial!
Now, this is not to say that you should never use a job objective. For students (high school and college) seeking internships, job objectives can provide a way to use up space on a resume when the student is lacking enough experience to completely fill an entire page (yes, resumes should fill an entire page, not half or 75% of a page). So, for a student, a resume objective statement is a great thing to include on your resume.
For all job seekers, the job objective, as stated previously, provides a clear way to identify the position you’re seeking.
Lastly, when you get more creative (but not too creative) with a job objective, the objective can identify one or two specific strengths you’ll bring to the position suggesting you will be a rock star if hired.
Resume Objective Example #2
Let’s start off with a basic but effective example of an objective for a resume.
Let’s say you’re an undergraduate or high school student looking for employment during the long summer break. That’s fairly typical for students. Also typical for students is to seek jobs in the service industries.
My first job? I was a dishwasher.
So, if a student were to apply for a dishwasher position, here’s a solid job objective:
JOB OBJECTIVE: To become a dishwasher at the Cityview Restaurant
Yes, that objective sounds incredibly boring! Yes, the position sought is considered one of the lowest positions at a restaurant!
The job objective is clear in what position the student is seeking. That’s what you want from your objective! As for the glamor of being a dishwasher, for students without any experience (as in my case at age 16), these types of positions are pretty easy to master with only a little on the job training, which is why this is where so many adolescents start off.
For the record, a lot of restaurant owners started off the same way and like to see adolescents willing to get their hands dirty doing entry-level work. As for me, I’m proud of my 11 years of employment at the Gardenview Restaurant as a dishwasher and then cook.
So, there you have a great blueprint for a clear and effective job objective, which translates well for most positions. Here are some additional resume objective examples:
- To become a cashier at Walgreens.
- To become a sales associate at Target.
- To become an accountant at Acme Accountants, Inc.
- To become a lab technician at Acme Chemical, Inc.
Again, I realize that such objectives are a bit… boring. I think that’s where the problems really develop. Job seekers want to start their resume off with a bang so they add flowery words to the objective to sound mature, experienced, and polished.
I appreciate job seekers’ concerns and efforts, but the objective is not the place to showcase yourself. Listing ACCOMPLISHMENTS from current or previous jobs is what will help you shine the most.
(Check out our ever growing list of resume examples here)
How to make your resume job objective statement stand out
Now, if you’re still determined to include a job objective and want to kick it up a notch, here’s something I recommend:
RESUME OBJECTIVE TIP: In addition to identifying the position you’re applying to, add a quick comment on what skills you will bring to the table.
The issue here?
Your job objective still needs to be just ONE sentence. Yes, I’m sure there are individuals who will say a job objective can be more than one sentence. I haven’t met such a resume expert yet!
Getting back to the idea of mentioning what skills you’ll bring to the position, let’s look back at restaurant work. Someone who starts as a dishwasher and becomes a line cook after getting prep cook experience (pretty typical for dishwashers) will quickly build up their cooking skills and have a good shot at moving on from a family restaurant to a four- or five-star restaurant as a cook
So, for a restaurant cook who is looking to move up from a family restaurant to a fine-dining establishment, identifying specific cooking skills that match the position is important.
For example, for an individual seeking a pastry chef position, who spent time focused on baking breads and desserts in a previous restaurant:
JOB OBJECTIVE: To bring my five years of baking experience to Cityview’s pastry chef position
Again, not overly exciting, but it does give a brief glimpse at the job seeker’s experience. A job objective such as this one would likely entice an employer to read further to see exactly what baking experience the candidate has.
Here are some other samples with this framework:
- To bring my seven years of crisis counseling experience to Healthcore’s Crisis Services Supervisor position.
- To bring my four years of tax preparation and accounting experience to Tax Services, Inc’s Senior Tax Preparer position.
- To bring my five years of chemical engineering experience to Chem, Inc’s Chemist II position.
Ultimately, many members of hiring committees overlook resume job objectives. However, to prepare for those readers that will pay attention to job objectives, the listed advice should help job seekers avoid objective pitfalls that too many candidates fall into.