Imagine yourself skimming aimlessly through all the online job posts you can find. It’s discouraging. You notice a few positions on your “someday” wish list — clearly out of your league. Several others are in the same field or a similar workplace, and their job descriptions sound appealing. But nothing jives with what these employers are asking for, what you want, and what you’ve done as outlined in your CV.
What if there was a way to make it all fit? And how could you make a hiring manager see it that way?
The answer to both questions is a CV objective. In fact, the objective, arguably, is the most powerful and persuasive part of your CV. That’s why it rightfully claims the top spot.
In this blog, we’ll take a closer look at the following:
- What is a CV objective?
- Why is it important?
- Who needs an objective for their CV?
- Who does not need a CV objective, and how is it different from a CV summary?
- How to write an effective CV personal objective
- CV objective examples: 3 common scenarios
What is a CV objective?
A CV objective is a brief, compelling synopsis of your career goals and next-step intent — why you are keenly interested in working for a specific organisation at this time. As a snapshot, it captures your relevant abilities and how the prospective employer would benefit from hiring you.
Sometimes called a career objective, or personal objective, this compact but mighty and prominent CV section is meant to be eye-catching and captivating. In just two or three tersely telling statements, the CV objective touches on who you are and what’s motivating you to apply for this specific job. It reveals just enough to intrigue recruiters and keep them reading more for the details.
Why is a CV objective important?
A CV objective sets you apart from other job applicants by expressing why you want this job and why you’re an excellent candidate. While most of your CV is otherwise factual and background-focused, the objective is geared to the future of your career in a next-employer context. In effect, you're proposing a win-win match.
By hitting the high notes up front, the objective gives you a much better shot at having your CV read at all. Never underestimate how inundated busy recruiters and hiring managers can be with dozens or hundreds pouring in for any given job opening.
LinkedIn writer Andrew Friedman echoes an oft-lamented reality about CVs. On average, employers spend just six seconds looking at them.
Who needs a personal objective for their CV?
CV objectives are designed for job applicants who have little or no professional experience in the industry they seek to enter. In addition to first-time job seekers, these are primarily people at a turning point in their career. They may just be starting out, taking a new direction, or already in transition.
Generally speaking, a CV objective is beneficial or recommended for:
- Newcomers to the workforce — including students, recent graduates or others re-entering the job market after a lapse
- People in transition — those who are changing careers or industries, or need to explain a career path that others may not easily understand
- Professionals who are relocating to a different city or country
In any of these instances, a CV objective declares your purpose, like a mission statement. The focus is on transferable skills and personal qualities making up for your lack of experience. And most importantly, the specific employer you are addressing is factored into this picture of your future.
Who does not need a CV objective?
For the most part, any experienced professional applying for a job in the same field does not need a CV objective, nor is there any benefit in having one. Job candidates with career experience in the same industry are much better served by the conventional CV summary, sometimes called the profile or personal statement.
CV objective or summary: What’s the difference?
Occupying the same top spots on the CV page, an objective and summary are both meant to serve as an elevator pitch for being an ideal hire. They both speak directly to the employer’s needs and how you can satisfy them.
The biggest difference between a CV objective and summary lies in your background. As stated, an objective is useful for job candidates with little or no experience. A summary emphasises their directly relevant experience, achievements and skills. There’s no need for someone following a consistent career path to discuss career goals, nor enough space to do so. Employers reading a summary are interested in what you’ve accomplished already and how you could replicate those success stories on their team.
How to write an effective CV objective
Being short, sweet and neat by design, a CV objective can seem deceptively simple. For the person reading it, that’s the whole idea. But for the job seeker, creating such impactful statements to be tucked into such a compressed space may take more time and tweaking than you bargained for. As any professional writer will tell you, it’s often hard to make something look easy.
If you go blank or get stuck creating your CV objective, don’t fret, and by all means don’t give up. Just because it’s the first thing hiring managers will read doesn’t mean you have to write the objective first. Leave it for now and move on to the other parts of your CV.
Then, when all the other pieces are in place, you’ll likely have an easier time coming back to the CV and crafting it last. The right experience and transferable skills will stand out. You might realise there is more to offer than you gave yourself credit for.
The formula for a great CV objective
But take heart in knowing there’s actually a failsafe formula for writing a CV objective that has you covered. There are three essential parts:
- Who you are
- What you have to offer
- How you will help the employer succeed
Let’s flesh it out a bit more:
Who you are
- Winning traits (accomplished, solution-focused, resourceful)
- Certification / licence / education if applicable (CPA-certified, CDL-A driver)
- Job title — current or future, specific or generic, to best fit occupation or role (customer service manager, business analyst, marketing specialist)
What you have to offer
- Skills (negotiation, financial management, team leadership)
- Experience (event planning, data entry, technical support, supply chain management, content management)
Value to this employer
- Name the employer and position you seek (office assistant at QRS Inc.)
- Specify how the employer will benefit (Help improve subscriber retention rates as community relations director by leveraging my nonprofit marketing background.)
[Adjective / qualification] [job title/occupation]. Looking to apply my [years/months] of [experience relevant to job description] at [name hiring organisation], to help [specify what and how] as [job role].
Dedicated CPSM-certified procurement manager with 12 years of experience overseeing all processes for cost-effective purchasing of goods and services in the hospitality industry. Seeking to apply my administrative, negotiation and communication skills in a philanthropic capacity. As executive director of Hopemore Homeless Shelter, I would guide the development of strong, trusting relationships with clients, vendors and partners in the community.
Other than the “who you are” lead-in, the phrases and statements comprising your CV objective can be structured as you wish, in any order. Strive to make them flow smoothly and logically. Two shorter statements are often preferable to one long one.
CV objective examples
Below are some personal objective examples for CVs in the three most common circumstances.
Career change CV objective example
Here the emphasis is on transferable skills. You have previous work experience but in a different field. So your CV objective refers to the abilities and accomplishments that relate most directly to the job, with the best assurance of you excelling and benefiting the employer if hired.
Creative, client-focused marketing communications specialist with six years of social media experience in the insurance industry. Seeking to apply successful client retention strategies in a fundraising capacity as director of donor relations for the Heartful Children’s Hospital Foundation.
No experience or education CV objective
Don’t count yourself out of a career-start opportunity just because you lack work experience or postsecondary education. Everybody in the workforce got their first job with no experience. This time your most impressive personal attributes and skills take centre stage.
Artistic and diligent classical guitarist, looking to join the Clancy Concert Auditorium as a program coordinator assistant. Confident that my musical knowledge, organisational abilities, and graphic design skills will contribute to the theatre’s success in attracting world-class performers.
New graduate CV objective example
Fresh out of university, you bring to your first professional position a variety of educational achievements, shining skills and personal traits, along with relevant project and volunteer experience. So that’s what your CV objective will convey.
Recent Bachelor of Accounting graduate, summa cum laude, seeking to launch my finance career as an auditing clerk at Numberscore Inc. Progressive experience preparing and presenting financial reports as an Internal Audit Student Club member throughout my four years of study. Also volunteered preparing income tax returns for seniors at two assisted living facilities. Looking to assist and support Numberscore’s auditing team while further developing my accounting experience.
- A CV objective provides a synopsis of your career goals, your reasons for seeking a specific job, and how you can contribute to the hiring organisation’s success.
- CV objectives are designed for job applicants with little or no experience in the field they wish to enter. The most common examples are people changing careers or industries, and those new to the workforce or re-entering after a gap.
- CV objectives should always be customised for the specific position being sought, pinpointing how the job applicant can offer value to the employer by meeting its needs.