While often overlooked, career objectives are one of the most important parts of your resume as they complement your experience and skills and give prospective employers a sense of your work-related ambitions. They don’t need to be particularly long to make an impact, but they do need to be well considered and well executed to be both meaningful and impressive.
Here are our tips on writing a career objective that wows every employer you encounter on your job search journey.
Where to put your career objective
Your career objective should serve as the entrée to a main course, that is, a concise and compelling introduction to your resume which tells employers why they should hire you over anyone else.
Most commonly these objectives are positioned after your name and personal details on your resume, before you commence detailing your education, skills and experience.
Keep it short
The space on a resume is precious, and as such every section should pack a punch, telling employers something new and important about you. Your career objective is perhaps even more important, as it sits atop all other information, and it is the first thing employers are likely to read. Making it short yet engaging will compel employers to find out what the rest of your resume has to offer. We recommend making it no more than five lines.
Career objective example: I am a diligent customer service provider with six years of experience in the IT sector. I have experience managing high-pressure situations and my problem-solving skills earned me Employee of the Year in three organisations. I aspire to provide exceptional service to each unique stakeholder across your organisation.
It’s worth noting that short is not synonymous with vague or lacking in detail or importance. Quite the opposite - a short career objective can and should be pointed and meaningful, hooking in employers and demanding their attention.
Honesty really is the best policy when it comes to your career, and this maxim applies to writing a career objective, just as it does to your resume; job interview; conversations with colleagues and managers; right through to exit interviews.
Being clear and honest about your ambitions is mutually beneficial for you and your prospective employer. Not only do you avoid potentially awkward conversations with future colleagues and employers, but by being honest employers know how to make roles better suited for you, including offering more tailored learning and development opportunities and getting you the most suitable mentor.
Career objective example: I have recently completed an MBA with distinction and was resultantly selected for KPMG’s prestigious graduate program. Always delivering quality and driving innovation, I am ideally positioned to drive portfolio expansion and am ambitious about leading risk management programs for clients.
This example works because it is succinct, tells employers about several remarkable career achievements, details the skills you can bring to the new role and mentions briefly your work-related ambitions.
Make your career objective specific to each role
Just as you need to tailor your resume for every organisation and role you apply for, so too will you need to make your career objective differs for every application. Inserting something generic will not succeed in making yours the most compelling one, nor will it even be suitable for the application in some cases.
Writing a career objective for each role requires you to do your research. Read about the organisation, their history, size, values, mission statement and people. Speak to existing employees if you can. Read articles and forums and chat to friends in the industry. Find out, where possible, what sort of employees the organisation wants, and why. All this information will help ensure yours is specific and relevant to you, the organisation you’re seeking to work at and the employer or team assessing your application.
Bad career objective example: Having worked as a manager for sometime in the accounting industry, I’m looking forward to working in an organisation that is larger and more renowned than my previous employers. I’m exceptional with people and good at conflict resolution. I am in the process of applying to become a CPA and I am competent in the preparation of BAS and other common processes.
This objective example fails because it is too vague, and poorly structured. The language is common and slightly clumsy, there is no evidence of this candidate having researched the role or organisation, and nothing unique is cited that wouldn’t be detailed elsewhere in the resume.
Good career objective example: As a senior accountant with experience in both the public and private sectors, I successfully deliver growth to diverse markets across the Asia-Pacific region. Winner of the Thought Leader of the Year Award at the New Zealand Accounting Awards in 2018, I am perfectly positioned to lead sustainable change at your company.
This objective example is strong because it contains interesting details without lacking brevity. It calls out a major accomplishment in the candidate’s career, and how this relates to the potential employer. It shows the breadth of experience without being vague, and sticks to the recommended five-career objective lines.
Spelling and grammar check
It might only be a small piece of text, but your career objective is the opener for your resume and the first part of this important document that employers will see.
If it has spelling and grammatical errors throughout (particularly if you’re applying for a role where you need such skills), it can give employers the sense that the application was rushed, that you don’t have an eye for detail, and that you’re not very thorough, despite claims that you are all those things. Career objectives need to blow employers away from the get-go, not deter them from reading the rest of your resume or application.
Remember, how you write can say just as much about you as what you write.
Take a look at our resume tips page for more advice on how to write a resume.