Good question! Before answering it, though, let’s first talk a little bit about the job objective statement, and why it is such a helpful and crucial part of your resume.
Note: Job objective statements are not necessary for all resumes or all job seekers. For help figuring out if you need one on your resume, see Should I Use a Job Objective Statement?
You might also like:
- 100 Examples of Resume Job Objective Statements
- How to Write a Job Objective Statement on Your Resume
Having a Job Objective Statement on Your Resume
The resume job objective statement fulfills two vital functions:
- It tells the reader – very clearly and very quickly – what type of position or work you are interested in applying for; and
- It helps you, the job seeker, to stay focused and to create a resume that supports that job objective.
You can think of the job objective on your resume as the peak of the pyramid you are building, and that everything that follows will support and add strength to it. (See How to Build Your Resume, Pyramid Style.)
In other words, once you have chosen what type of job you are going for, it’s a good idea to create a job objective statement that will help the reader to know what you want. It will also help you to decide what to include on your resume, what to highlight, what to downplay, and what to leave out. It can also help you to decide the order that you want to arrange the achievement statements that appear later on your resume.
How Do I Write My Job Objective Statement?
Here’s where it gets fun! If you think about someone reading your resume, you want them to know who you are, what you want, and what you ‘bring to the table’, right? Right! So, the “long and the short of it” is that the job objective statement on your resume needs to be as sharp and focused as you can make it … and that also means as brief as possible!
A Sharp and Focused Job Objective
A sharp and focused job objective statement on your resume makes you look sharp and focused. Sadly, many job seekers miss this opportunity by writing vague phrases that don’t mean a whole lot. For example:
Obviously, this statement says nothing, over and over again! You might just as well say something as useless as:
It does not tell the reader anything about you as the job seeker, and so it takes their time and energy without giving them anything in return (except a big yawn!). It makes them work to figure out what you want and where to place you; also, there is no need to use phrases like “a challenging job,” because the people doing the hiring don’t want to think that they are searching for people to fill un-challenging jobs!
How Long is Too Long for a Job Objective Statement?
So, how do you write a strong – but not too long – job objective statement? Well, one way to go about it is to think about the job title for the type of position that you want to apply for. Your job objective statement can be as simple as just stating that job title, as in:
If there is a particular job at a particular company that you would love to have, you could even add the company name to your job objective statement:
If you want to cast a wider net than just applying at Target, you could include the type and/or size of the kind of business you would like to become part of, such as:
If you are not sure about the job title, but you know that you would like a job where you manage or direct others, your job objective statement could reflect that:
Now, this last job objective statement is very broad, and to help your resume come into greater focus, you might want to add the types of skills or areas of know-how that you would like to bring to your target job:
Another way to increase the impact of your resume’s job objective statement is to include something about the level of the type of job you are going for, the industry or field you are interested in, and the skills that you have that are also needed to do that job well:
So, how long is too long? The job objective statement on your resume should take up one or two lines at most (when using a Word document with right and left margins of no more than one-inch each); anywhere from five to 25 words. More than that is just too long. Of course, there are always exceptions to the rule, but remember: Most hiring people spend only 10-15 seconds when first looking at a resume. So, you will want the reader to get to the more “meaty” parts of your resume as quickly as they can, and not dwell on a long, drawn out job objective statement.
And that’s the long and the short of it! Good luck!
by Beth Brown
Beth Brown is the senior resume writer on Susan Ireland's Resume Team and co-author of The Damn Good Resume Guide.
Read more resume articles by Beth Brown.