Step 5: Your Resume Job Objective

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If you're using your resume to get a new job, it's key that you make it easy for the reader of your resume to see what type of job you want. There are several ways to do that, including the traditional resume job objective statement. But that's not the only way, so read on.

Let's go over five options for making your objective clear. In the end, you'll decide which one is best for you. You may even use two or more of these techniques (I usually do) to reinforce your job search focus and the value you offer your next employer.

1. Resume Job Objective Statement

Having an official job objective statement near the top of a resume is optional. It can, however, be very useful, especially if one of the following applies:

  • You're making a major career change and without an objective statement the reader might assume you want to continue in your former line of work.
  • You're going for a very specific job at a company and you want to be considered for that job only.
  • Your career history up to this point has been without focus. A concise objective statement can help make you look on target (you know what you want and what you're good at).

By starting your resume with a job objective statement, you quickly tell your potential employer three things:

  1. What position you are looking for.
  2. What level of responsibility you want.
  3. How to interpret all the information on the resume. The job objective tells the reader, "Everything that follows is relevant to this job." That's important because this is a marketing piece, not your life history!

How to word your job objective statement
Very concisely! Your resume objective statement should be as short and quick to read as possible. I set the bar at 10 words or less. (You get higher points for using fewer.)

Don't make this mistake: Some resumes have long fluffy statements with job objectives buried in them. They use phrases like "challenging position," "room for advancement," and "opportunity to grow." Cut out the fluff since it doesn't say much to employers (in fact, some really hate it).

Here's everything — and no more — that the employer needs to know from the objective statement:

  • The area of work ("Marketing," "Sales").
  • The title, if you know it ("Manager," "Sales Representative").
  • Areas of specialization ("with an emphasis on new business development," "focusing on graphic design"). This should be used only if a simple objective statement needs to be more clearly defined. In most cases it isn't needed.

Here are some examples:

A position as Sales Representative
Director of Marketing
Administrative position with a focus on finance
Associate Field Producer, TV Programming

If your situation requires a more general approach, try something like:

A position in Sales
An accounting position

2. Professional Title Instead of a Job Objective Statement

If you've earned the right (either through paid or unpaid experience) to call yourself by a professional title, you could use that professional title in place of a job objective statement. This works well as long as that title represents your resume job objective.

In fact, if you can honestly use a professional title in this way, it might be better than writing an objective statement. Here's why:

A job objective statement says, "I want to be a such-and-such professional."
A professional title says, "I am a such-and-such professional."

Using the professional title is a far more confident approach (you're not a wanna-be, you are!) for both winning a job interview and negotiating your job title and salary/pay.

You could place your professional title next to your name in the resume heading or near the top of your resume.

Sally Jones
Marketing Professional

Henry Mathews
Investigative Reporter

To see a sample of a professional title used instead of a Job Objective section, check out this sample resume.

3. Strong First Summary Statement

Here's another way to tell the employer what your resume objective is: Use the first bullet point statement of your Summary of Qualifications section.

In your first statement refer to the relevant experience or skills you have that strongly paint the picture of you doing your job objective. For example:

  • Experienced sales professional in the natural cosmetics industry.
    Or
  • 10 years in the natural cosmetics industry offering sales support and analysis.
    Or
  • Eight years experience using my sales skills to champion causes in the natural cosmetics field.

With an opening Summary statement like any one of the above, the employer will get the picture that you want a job in sales. Mission accomplished!

I strongly urge you to use this option, whether or not you have a job objective statement or a professional title on your resume. In other words, write a strong first Summary statement that either hints at your objective or supports one you've already announced. (I'll talk a lot more about writing Summary statements in the next step.)

4. Move Education Near the Top

If you have a degree or certification that specifically supports your job objective, move Education up on your resume near the top of page one. This is one way to signal to an employer what type of job you want. Academic and scientific CVs rely on this technique for making the point about job seekers' career objectives.

5. None of the Above

If you use a chronological or combination resume format and your last two jobs are in the same line of work as your resume job objective, then you can get away without any of the above. That's right, you can:

  • Not have an objective statement.
  • Not use a professional title.
  • Not write a Summary section.
  • Not move Education to the top.

The reason: The employer will look at your work history and assume that you want to continue in the same type of job as you've been doing.

Okay, have you decided how you're going to make your resume job objective known to your reader? Good. Now let's move on to writing your Summary section by clicking Next>> (below).

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