A powerful and memorable resume objective is one of the defining instruments of any job search. This is your way of effectively explaining your goals, usefulness and transferable skills during a career change. When a career transition is imminent, this should be expressed clearly in a candidate’s resume objective, in black and white at the top of their resume, because potential employers definitely need to understand it too.
Having written and ghostwritten job search and recruitment content for the past decade, I have explored the nature of career change from many angles. As a writer, it has always fascinated me to explore how candidates go about choosing the words to make their case when they are faced with a career transition. The language that they choose in their resume objective will set the tone for their later interviews.
Getting the resume objective right is a top priority. This guide will show you:
- The definition of a resume objective and how it differs from a summary
- When to use a resume objective to stand out from other candidates
- My suggested four-part recipe for a clear and compelling resume objective
- Writing tips for making an impression in the first five seconds
- 15 situations when it is essential to include a resume objective (with 15 examples)
- What can I put on my resume instead of an objective?
- Why a resume objective is particularly important in 2022.
The resume objective may be just a couple of sentences, but it might be the most important piece of resume writing that you do during your job search. Take your time and think it through carefully.
What is a resume objective?
The majority of resumes contain a paragraph at the top to highlight the key aspects of a candidate’s application. This is commonly called a summary or a personal statement. It offers personal insights into a candidate, the experience they possess, the achievements that they can boast and sometimes information about where they are going.
The section of the summary that defines your career direction and goals is called a resume objective. This does not replace the other details in the summary, and it is not always required, but when someone is at a transitional point in their career, or if their role is changing, the resume objective details the specifics of the nature of the change.
Does my resume need an objective?
The resume objective is very important if you are at a crossroads in your career, or if you want your career to change track. Then, a section that describes your new direction of movement and transferable skills and qualities becomes incredibly important to describe in the first words of any resume.
There isn’t always a requirement for a career objective. If you have a solid marketing manager resume and want to continue as a marketing manager, there is little point in spending vital resume real estate on explaining your goals and career trajectory.
You apply for a marketing manager role and your resume speaks for itself. In this case, your summary should focus on your cultural fit, your achievements and the experience that you will bring to the role. If you find yourself in that scenario, you can simply keep your traditional resume summary profile.
When does a resume objective look bad? It is fine to say that you are looking for a change or change of direction in your resume objective, but if the rest of your resume does not demonstrate that you have what it takes to make the change, your ambitions fall somewhat short. Having a dream is great, but you have to believe that you can make it happen. If you do not, how can you expect a potential employer to back you?
What is the structure of an effective objective for a resume?
Based on recruiter and HR experience, the optimal resume objective structure should contain the following elements:
- Professional traits
- Title (or future title)
- Skills & experience
- Promise (of your career trajectory/goals)
While the majority of a resume is factual, the resume objective addresses a future of your career, your transition, transferable skills, employer-oriented goals (meaning goals that bring value to your new employer). It therefore needs to present a credible vision of what might be.
When outlining your objective, “I want to become a senior analyst” is entirely inadequate. You need to enrich it with a sense of personality, justify it with your most relevant skills and experience, while at the same time making a solemn promise to your future employer. It is not just your objective; it should be a statement that equally fits their needs.
Let’s take a look at each of the elements in turn:
Traits. Of all the words in the world, which would you choose to describe yourself? When you are telling the story of your career in your resume, the adjectives that you choose will supplement the narrative. An adjective (or two) at the start of a powerful resume objective gives the sense of “this is me” before you go on to state where you are going.
Title (or future title). The second part of an objective often includes the title of the role that you wish to secure. In the cases where the role is different to previous titles, you might choose to make it more general such as “marketing professional” or add a few words after your current title to qualify a future direction: “sales manager who is seeking a role in customer operations.” In any case, the title section of the objective has to speak directly to the hiring manager, closely related to the job that you are applying for.
Skills & Experience. While your resume is all about your past achievements, choosing the most relevant aspects of your skills and experience is a great way of showing your future employer that you have chosen a worthy path. This is especially useful if you wish to highlight experiences from earlier on in your career and gives an important signpost as to what you wish to expand upon during an interview.
Promise/Goals. The last section of a powerful resume objective is the promise that you make to your future employer (and to yourself). Simply stated, when you sign on the dotted line of your next employment contract, this is who you are going to be and what you are going to deliver. Every message in your resume, cover letter and interview should be contributing towards this promise. This will be why you will get up to go to work every morning, for years to come.
This all sounds sensible in theory, but let’s look at fifteen situations where resume objectives are commonplace, with some examples to illustrate their power:
How do you write an objective?
The resume objective should ideally follow the structure we already outlined (Traits, Title, Skills & Experience, Promise/Goals), but the main thing is that it is written in the third person with a professional tone. Imagine that you are a hiring manager describing the candidate to their CEO. That is that sort of language that you should be aiming for – a two-sentence professional elevator presentation.
The objective should be as relevant as possible to the role, so it is always a good idea to mirror the language of the job description and company careers page. Talking like your future employers is a great way of considering a common future from the same perspective.
Most importantly of all, the resume objective should be a personal mission statement that a candidate is intensely passionate about and proud to pursue. Making any sort of transition in a job search is hard enough, so it simply has to resonate at the deepest level. Aim high, don’t settle for second best and the sky's the limit.
15 resume objective examples
As previously mentioned, a resume objective is set apart from a resume summary or personal statement (and it is nearly always deployed as part of the summary).
The objective is most powerful when it is time for a change in direction, so here are the fifteen most common scenarios when this might be the case. A strong resume objective to guide the job search narrative in these cases is essential:
Objective examples for career change.
When it is time for a change in career, while you might include the details in a cover letter, a clear resume objective at the top of the document is critical to lay out the new direction.
Calculating retail professional seeking a move into logistics, with five years of indirect experience in freight forwarding and international shipping. A sourcing expert, who will always find the most efficient route.
Resume objective example after a career gap (maternity, etc).
Not everyone wants to pick up where they left off after a career gap (for whatever reason), so a resume objective can clarify how they would like to reboot their work prospects.
Climate activist geography teacher returning after a four-year maternity leave, aiming to nurture and inspire in and out of the classroom. An innovative educator, who will adopt the latest technologies to bring any geography lesson to life.
How long should your objective be on your resume? Ideally the objective should only be part of the summary section at the top of a resume. Any candidate should have some accomplishments to put in the initial elevator pitch, however inexperienced that may be. If this section is "all" objective, you risk being seen as a dreamer rather than a doer. The objective should be a maximum of two sentences.
Resume objective example to boost your career.
Your next employers may not immediately sense that you are ready for a move up the career ladder, so a resume objective can be utilised as your statement of ambition.
Leading Fintech marketing professional, seeking to make a move up to Marketing Director after eight years of award-winning campaigns. MBA-educated social marketeer, who will deliver triple-digit audience growth and double-digit sales increases.
Resume objective for a new industry move.
People are moving industries at unprecedented rates at the moment, so for someone who has worked in multiple industries a resume objective serves to signal your affiliation.
Customer-centric realtor, looking to start a career in B2B sales, having deployed a deep understanding of customer psychology to top state-wide sales charts and buyer satisfaction surveys. Advanced sales techniques will create a pipeline for customer growth.
Resume objective example for part-time work.
If you are moving from a full-time occupation to part-time (or vice versa), it is important for the reader of your resume to see you in the desired light – make your preferences clear in your resume objective.
Certified public accountant with seven years of experience in Financial Services, seeking to transition to a part-time role due to family commitments. Proficient user of remote accounting software, who will provide a reliable resource for your team.
Resume objective for remote roles.
With flexible working becoming increasingly commonplace, there is no shame in stating that you are looking for a remote role, so the resume objective is the perfect place to state your case for a remote role.
Cost-obsessed procurement consultant, having saved over $90m in indirect and direct spend for 4 employers across twenty countries, now looking for a remote role to support a global purchasing team. Having been on the ground for eight years, brings unique cultural understanding and commercial acumen.
Objective example for freelancers.
Many people now have a mix of freelance and permanent roles in their employment history, so make sure to back up your resume objective with suitable skills and examples.
Award-winning software developer in the gaming industry, having worked on three of the biggest MMORPG titles in the last decade, seeking a second freelance role alongside current work with Trackvision. Offers knowledge of 8 languages and all major design software, code editors and testing tools.
Career objective for multiple jobs.
Some roles may demand 100% of your time, but when it is possible to do your job in two days a week, you need to explain your ability to successfully juggle multiple roles in your resume objective.
Reliable delivery driver with a 99% customer satisfaction rating and six years in the industry, keen on taking on a complementary role as a food service courier. Ability to multitask and encyclopaedic knowledge of New York traffic guarantees satisfied customers.
What is a good objective? A good resume objective should aim just slightly higher than you think you can make it. You future employer has to sense that your ambition will push you to the limits of your ability. We all smile when a child say that they want to be an astronaut - tone down the ambition slightly, but you know what I mean.
Resume objective for freshers.
The world is your oyster for a fresher, so at this time of transition you need your resume objective to explain where you would like to begin your career and what motivates you to take this direction.
English undergraduate keen to start a career with journalism with an internship in the Miller Post’s editorial team. Having contributed over 80 articles to the university website and edited 400+, I hope to bring a sharp eye and critical attitude to the position.
Resume objective for no experience.
For someone with no work experience, a resume objective is an ideal tool - there is nothing more powerful than to be specific about where you want your career to move and what traits, skills and qualities you will apply towards that goal. An attitude of “I’ll do anything” won’t impress anyone.
Curious history student keen on a part-time position in the town museum, with previous weekend work in a book shop offering an understanding of how to deal with customers. Contagious enthusiasm will help history to come alive for your visitors.
Objectives example for a start-up position.
Working in a start-up is a unique challenge, but people move to smaller firms from corporate roles all the time. State your case in your resume objective and make it clear you have what it takes to work in a fast-moving startup.
Public sector mechanical engineer looking to move to a start-up operation in the renewable energy sector, combining a wealth of large-scale infrastructure experience with a passion for the environment. Will bring 10 years of energy sector expertise to the team.
Objective example for an international move.
International hires are some of the riskiest for any employer. There is so much more involved in accepting a new job abroad, so your absolute dedication, versatility and knowledge needs to shine through in your resume objective.
Corporate attorney relocating to Australia, seeking a position in a family law firm in Sydney. Experienced in all aspects of commercial law, dispute resolution and litigation. Average client retention of 6 years – investing in trusting relationships that endure.
How do you write an objective? Working out what you really want out of a future career move is one of the hardest things to do in a job search. My personal advice would be to write down every single possibility that you can think of and whittle them down to a list of 3-4 in terms of which could make you happiest. Distill the common traits from those roles and you have something resembling an objective. You should definitely keep an open mind, so try not to be too specific.
Resume objective for volunteering.
Volunteering is a noble pursuit, but any reputable organization who takes on volunteers still needs to understand that their people are in it for the right reasons and for the long run. Your objective should showcase the relevant qualities for such a role.
Reliable care-giver and part-time nurse would like to volunteer as a charity collector during the summer events season. Dementia is a disease close to my heart, and I would relish the opportunity to make any sort of difference, however small.
Career objective for students.
Many companies will be happy to take on students for work experience, so starting with a clear objective will mean your resume is far less likely to be put on the rejects pile.
Recent college leaver and keen amateur gardener looking for work experience in a professional landscaping company with a view to securing a part-time weekend role during university years. Green fingers and an unstoppable work ethic, come rain or shine.
Objective example for further education.
When you apply for a postgraduate qualification, an academic resume is essential. Be clear about what the next step in your education entails and why you should be considered.
Psychology masters graduate seeking to move to an institution to continue their studies towards a PhD. My dissertation on the impact of social media on the socio-psychological development of adolescents will form the basis for further research.
Objective in resume for abroad
One important example of when you might require a resume objective is if you are searching for a role abroad. In this case, the objective section should be longer than usual. After all, a move abroad is a big undertaking and you need to dedicate significant resume space to what it means for you.
The most important consideration in a resume objective for moving abroad is your ability to manage change. You will come across lots of new situations and have to amend how you go about your work in ways that you cannot anticipate in advance. Your core reason for moving abroad should be strong as you will need the motivation to overcome different hardships and upheavals. Moving abroad can be incredibly rewarding, but it is not for the faint-hearted.
What can I put on my resume instead of an objective?
The traditional resume summary centres more around achievements, experience, personality and cultural fit with the role. If you are a marketing manager who is moving to a marketing manager role (for example), it makes sense to focus on the hard-hitting facts about your marketing experience rather than wasting a sentence around how you just want to keep on keeping on. That will not leave a powerful first impression.
We have written a couple of guides around creating the perfect resume summary and also some tips on crafting impactful personal statements. They are well worth a read in our resume examples section.
Be prepared to defend your objective at interview. When you put yourself out there and say "I want to do this" - there will be plenty of interviewers who would like to see how you react when they challenge your ability to make it happen. The main thing is not to get too defensive. You don't know for a fact that things will work out the way you planned, so argue your case with a hopeful and humble attitude, backed by examples and logic.
Should I put an objective on my resume in 2022?
The short answer is: yes, but only if you’re expecting any sort of change in your career (an industry change, a role change, a promotion, a fresh start, etc.). In terms of giving a future employer clarity in terms of your ambitions, including an objective on your resume has therefore never been more important. 2022 will be a turbulent time for many in terms of career change. Many industries are experiencing seismic shifts in demand and technology continues to change the fabric of our workplaces. People are more often working remotely, portfolio careers are increasing, and freelancing is the norm for many. Change is in the air and it is not going away any time soon.
If you are keen on a remote role, mention it in the objective. If you are looking for part-time work, be clear about it up front. If you are looking for an industry move, let them know that their industry is for you. We have discussed various other situations above – do not hesitate to spell out exactly how you see your next role working out.
When it is time to change, the resume objective is the most important couple of lines in your whole resume . When you set the tone for your resume in the first few lines, potential future employers will read your resume with the mindset that you intend. Yes, the role might be a little different to what you have done before, but you’ve got what it takes to succeed.
If your next step looks like any of the fifteen resume objective examples shown above, or if you simply want to be doubly clear about the direction that you wish your career to take, including a specific resume objective in the summary section of your resume is a great way to state your case.
Be loud and proud in your resume objective and you have every chance of getting the job.