Every well-written essay has a powerful introduction. Likewise, every successful CV has a strong career objective. It is one of the most important elements of your CV because it can give employers the information that make you a good fit for the position. While it can’t stand on its own, it works as a great summary that supports your CV, and when it’s used effectively, it can capture the attention of the employer and help you stand out from the competition.
If you want to learn more, this article provides an excellent introduction to what a career objective is and how to write one:
What Is a Career Objective?
A career objective is a brief, targeted statement that reflects your professional goal. It explains the purpose of the CV and what you want to achieve. Currently, there is a lot of discussion about what constitutes a career objective and what doesn’t. Career experts say that there are many ways to describe it and it is sometimes referred to as ‘career summary’.
But, there are obvious distinctions between the two. A career summary is often longer than a career objective (3 to 4 lines long); it focuses on work history and takes the form of a paragraph.
The Career Center at Florida State University says that a career objective can be:
- Personal: your career goals are very different to others and your objective should be tailored in a way that feels comfortable to you.
- Commitment-oriented: it needs to say who you are and what you want to achieve.
- Action-oriented: it needs to communicate your skills and accomplishments to an employer.
- Directional: focus on your future and identify who you are and what information you seek.
- Specific: identify facts about a work situation which you want to work in.
Why do you need one?
You need a career objective for various reasons. If the employer doesn’t have much time on their hands, this small summary is usually the only element of your CV that employers will read. A career objective is essential when:
- You are changing careers
- You are applying for an entry-level position
- You are targeting a particular position
It’s ideal for these three because it helps to present their goals effectively. For career changers, it may be slightly longer than for others because it needs to explain why you have decided to make a shift.
How to Write a Career Objective
Try to think of it as your elevator pitch. If it’s written the right way, it can help to promote your skills in the best possible light. Since there is no one way to write a career objective, it’s important to ‘make it your own’ and make it sound natural, especially when using ready-made templates.
Stacey Campbell, a career consultant at Wilfrid Laurier University suggests a simple formula that can help you write your own:
- Identify yourself - e.g. business student, a recent engineering graduate, marketing professional etc.
- State the role you are applying for - entry-level engineer, junior editor, independent consultant, senior accountant.
- Select relevant experience/skills/knowledge - creating unique content for websites, protecting the environment, auditing/accounting, leadership etc.
- Provide results or demonstrate how you will contribute to the goals of the position - make it relevant to the job.
Here are a few tips along with relevant examples to help you.
Be Clear about What You're Trying to Say
First off, you need to determine what you are trying to accomplish. Making up nice stuff to say about yourself is a big mistake. Show employers that you are being realistic and self-assured and you are not just trying to impress them, choosing your words wisely. Before you begin writing your career objective, explain your situation and determine what you are trying to accomplish. Ideally, it should explain what you want to do in your career that offers some kind of value either to the employer or the community.
Since you want to promote yourself, you can choose to talk about your experience, skills or qualifications. Be honest and keep it as short as possible. Up to 2 sentences are usually more than enough. It can be longer if you are applying for a managerial role, though it’s not necessary.
- “Seeking to work for a company that is green-minded, socially-conscious and open to out-of-the-box thinking.”
- “Seeking to obtain a position with a company that has a vision and rewards hard work, strong ethics and is open to out-of-the-box thinking.”
- “Hoping to secure a position at a company that values diversity and is open to ground-breaking solutions and ideas for development.”
Put the Employer’s Needs First
Employers take a look at your CV with the intention to match your qualifications with their requirements. But, if it doesn’t become immediately clear that you have what it takes for the job, there is a high chance your job application is dismissed altogether. You can achieve this by introducing yourself in a way they can’t ignore. Avoid career objectives that focus on your working preferences e.g. ‘Hoping to work in a team-oriented environment that fosters professional development’. Instead, choose to put the employer’s needs first.
- “Seeking an opportunity with a forward-thinking company that needs a productive and energetic manager to make a difference in operations.”
- “Seeking a graphic designer position with an innovative company that wants to make a difference in the industry.”
- “Seeking an opportunity to work as a computer programmer at a company that values professionals with integrity and high-quality standards of work.”
Use Strong Adjectives
You may not be used to brag or talk about yourself, but now is the time. Designed as the perfect personal marketing tool, your CV should contain all the right words that are going to make you the ideal candidate for the job. Some adjectives are more powerful than others and can have a more meaningful impact on your job application as a whole when included on your CV, the same way action verbs work. So if you want to make a good impression, choose positive adjectives to describe yourself and skills.
Each adjective works differently and serves a specific purpose. Before you choose which one(s) to use, make sure that you identify yourself and that you are being honest. Also, make sure to avoid the ones that are being repeated over and over again e.g. motivated, energetic, driven, accomplished. If anything else, these will only make you look unrealistic and fake. Bear in mind that there are specific adjectives for each field that can help you out.
- “Independent writer seeking for a full-time opportunity at a media company specializing in sports commentary.”
- “Passionate graphic designer interested in working for a revolutionary company that wants to create unique and engaging content for advertising purposes.”
- “Resourceful and dynamic web developer seeking for a part-time position to create beautiful, responsive and user-friendly websites.”
Use a Job Title
Generic career objectives don’t make it through easily. If you want the job, you have to be as specific as possible. You can use a job title to show employers that you know what you want out of your career. Using a job title is not a good idea when you are sending a speculative letter because you want to keep your options open. Many applicants choose to use this format ‘Position as Personal Assistant/Office Manager at ABC Company’, but it’s not encouraged since it is very restricting, bland and boring.
When using a job title, you can talk a bit about what you do, what you are currently working on and refer to any relevant achievements.
- “Results-oriented office administrator with over 15 years’ experience in the industry, seeking an opportunity in a full-time position at a national healthcare organisation.”
- “Dynamic sales and marketing professional focused on developing markets, channel relationships, and strategic alliances for a Fortune 500 company with international operations.”
- “Innovative careers specialist with 5 years’ experience in the field, seeking for a part-time opportunity at a local educational centre.”
Focus on Your Skills
Talking about your skills, qualities or qualifications, can make your application stronger. First, think about what describes you the most. This could include two or three of your key skills or personal traits. If you are struggling to come up with any good ones, think about your everyday activities and associate these with certain character traits.
For example, if you are into sports you can say that you are a team player and an active individual or if you like theatre, arts and music, refer to your public speaking, presentation skills and creativity. Whatever you choose, try to make it as relevant as possible to the position. If you come up with a skill that you can use in the role that’s even better.
- “Talented and dependable office administrator, skilled in all aspects of office management within non-profit environments.”
- “Creative and tech-savvy social media manager, skilled in creating unique content for the purposes of advertising and promoting a product, a service or organisation.”
- “Certified accountant with proven leadership and organisational skills seeking a position at a law firm.”
Tailor it to Each Job
You can do this by including the right keywords in your career objective. First, read the job description and select the phrases and keywords that stand out.
So for example, if you are planning to send out 100 applications, then your objective statement needs to be changed a 100 of times. You don’t need to change the whole thing though, just tailor each objective to match the job title and requirements of the position at hand.
Here are a couple of examples from Your Dictionary:
Example 1: for an Intern
"Graduate student seeking internship as a research assistant specialising in foreign policy. Coursework has included exploration of free markets and limited government."
Example 2: for a Sales Representative
"Action-oriented sales representative seeking an opportunity to utilise skills in initiating and developing strategic relationships with government agencies, non-profit organisations and industry."
Example 3: for an Administrative Assistant
"Dedicated administrative professional with excellent customer service skills and extensive knowledge of bookkeeping procedures. Interested in opportunities in the travel industry focusing on sales, customer care, and office management."
Example 4: for an HR Manager
"Dynamic, take-charge retail store manager with seven years of experience managing 100+ employees seeks opportunity to apply skills in human resources and payroll management."
All these examples show that for each position, a targeted career objective is necessary. Without it, it becomes difficult for employers to understand what you are trying to get from your CV.
Before you send your CV to employers, make sure that your objective statement is unique, it doesn’t have any grammar or spelling mistakes and that it’s unique to each position. There are many career objective examples on specific roles, so make sure you do some research on these in advance.
Have you ever written a career objective? Let us know in the comments section below…