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Writing Career Objectives - CDO

Writing Career Objectives

There are two reasons for including an objective on your resume:

  1. To show that there is a match between the kind of work you are seeking and the position being offered by an employer.
  2. To clearly state your career goals for the benefit of an employer who needs assurance that you have clear goals. Potential employers may be hesitant to take a risk on a candidate who is unsure of his or her current career direction.

The ideal resume and objective are tailored to a specific position and employer. Word processing and microcomputers simplify the job of modifying a resume to suit particular positions or opportunities. The myth that one resume will do for all positions is just that - a myth.

You may have several different positions in mind. That's fine as long as each meets your personal preferences for type of work, type of organization, geographic location, work environment, or other criteria important to you.

There are several types of objectives to choose from:

  1. A simple statement of a professional position, i.e., Public Accountant, Graphic Designer, Medical Technologist, Speech Therapist, Videographer.

    Performance/Theatre candidates often center a role directly under their name.
  2. A statement reflecting your functional area of interest and may include the fact that you are seeking an entry-level position.
    • An entry-level position in genetics research.
    • Seeking a position in public relations.
    • An entry-level position in retail management.
  3. A statement which notes your functional skills and may include preference for a particular sector of employment, size of organization, and/or geographic area.
    • An administrative position in a nonprofit agency in New York state utilizing my fundraising and public relations skills.
    • An entry-level sales position in a medium to large-sized insurance company.
    Note: When referring to skills in your objective, be sure that your resume clearly communicates evidence of those skills.
  4. Short-Term/Long-Term Format
    • Short-Term: A summer internship in ............
    • Long-Term: Graduate education in social work leading to ............
  5. Seeking/Offering Statement
    • Seeking: Administrative position with an East Coast long-term care facility.
    • Offering: Practical experience and education in health administration, knowledge of OSHA regulations, interest in safety issues and policies, capacity for hard work, and effective communication skills.

NOTE FOR EDUCATION CANDIDATES: Education candidates often substitute a certification statement in place of the objective. It serves a similar purpose and also tells the employer that you hold the required certification.

CERTIFICATION Candidate for New York State Initial Certificate, Childhood Education (Grades 1-6)

Tips for Writing Objectives:

  1. Be specific! A vague objective invites a vague response or no response at all.
  2. Avoid the use of trite terms such as:
    "a challenging and interesting position"
    "opportunity for advancement"
    "dealing with people"
    "a progressive organization"

    To understand why, put yourself in an employer's place. He or she reads hundreds of resumes. It can safely be assumed that each resume writer is seeking a situation which can be described by the phrases above.
  3. State only one functional area, i.e., marketing or finance, in a single objective.
  4. Make your objective "work-centered" rather than "self-centered." An employer needs to know that the organization will benefit from hiring you. They don't particularly care to know how they can help you.
  5. Don't count on your cover letter to do the work of an objective. Cover letters and resumes are frequently separated by employers who are overwhelmed with paper.

A final thought: Career counseling to assist with identifying career objectives is available if you need it. Stop by the Career Development Office (Gregory Hall, second floor) or call (716) 673-3327 to schedule an appointment.

Adapted and reprinted with permission from the Career Development Office,
College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Cornell University.