No one likes applying for jobs. The application process requires taking your entire work history and condensing it down into a single document. Along with your resume, you may be asked to submit a cover letter and prepare references. One thing that applicants should consider is compelling, eye catching resume objectives.
Resume objectives help an interviewer or recruiter understand why you're applying for a role. They can also add color to a resume and make it stand out from the pile. Those two sentence help humanize you and create a connection with the people who decide whether you get an interview.
Resume objectives need to be clear, well thought out, and supported by your cover letter and resume. You need to approach those sentences like they are the only things that determine whether you get that first interview. This article will explore how you can prepare resume objectives that give you the best shot at an offer.
Resume objectives help interviewers and hiring managers understand why you're applying and what you bring to the role. Your resume objectives are effectively your tagline or slogan. You're not just a name and a resume; you're an "experienced brand marketer looking for an exciting role in the food and beverage space".
Resumes are often dry, repetitive, and two-dimensional documents. It's hard to decide which candidates to interview based solely on that single page. Candidates can start to look alike, especially if they have similar backgrounds or work experience. Resume objectives are a way to connect with an interviewer and humanize your application.
You need to think hard about how you're going to present yourself to get HR's attention.
Resume objectives occupy the very top of your resume, the most expensive real estate. The ideal length for resume objectives is one to two sentences. You want them to be short, sweet, and to the point. The majority of your resume needs to focus on your accomplishments so anything more than two sentences is a waste of valuable space.
There are some simple formatting tips to consider when preparing your objectives. The first tip is pretty simple; make sure to use the same font as the rest of your resume. Some people add objectives after writing their resume and forget to use the same font and text size as the rest of the document.
The same goes with spacing and margins; this attention to detail is important for every document you submit with your application. You can use an online resume builder to properly format your objectives so they are eye catching and don't take up too much space.
Learning how to write objectives is similar to learning how to write a resume. Look for keywords that describe the position, such as skills, previous work experience, and certifications. Find the terms that keep popping up throughout the job posting. Maybe it's "financial modeling skills" or "partnership development". The frequency of those keywords throughout the job posting give you a strong idea of what matters most to the hiring manager.
HR teams often use software to scan applications for those keywords before making the first round of cuts. If possible, try to highlight some of those keywords in your objectives. This can help convince the reader that you have the basic qualifications to earn a phone screen or in-person interview.
Don't just dump the keywords into your objectives; make sure they flow logically from sentence to sentence. You should also make sure that those keywords are consistent across your objectives, resume, and cover letter.
This is also a good time to touch base with your network. If you have any internal contacts, ask them what key initiatives they're working on. This is a great way to make sure that the skills you're highlighting are relevant and will get someone's attention. Make HR's job easier and you'll be that much closer to a first-round interview.
Keywords are important, but they shouldn't dominate your objectives. Aside from the keywords, think about what skills or experience you bring to the table. Don't just think about the "required experience" highlighted in the posting. You might have more relevant experience than you initially thought. It might be an understanding of a specific product area, research, classes, or other experience not immediately obvious in your resume.
The more unique or technical, the better; it's a competitive job market and employers are struggling to fill roles, particularly in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). Try and highlight these experiences in your objectives to show why you are uniquely suited for the role. Again, you need to balance showcasing your experience while still conserving space. Instead of saying that you "Have a degree in psychology and are interested in market research", try "Psychology major passionate about conducting impactful market research. The second phrase is more compact and uses action words.
There are plenty of ways to approach writing the objectives; keep experimenting until you find your tagline.
When you think about how to write a resume, the goal is to get the reader's attention. The same is true for the objectives. The language you use will make all the difference. Avoid passive language; it sounds dry and usually takes up extra space. Instead, use action words to convey passion and highlight your accomplishments. Words like "led", "analyzed", "managed", etc. are tools to show how you can make an impact at your next employer. This goes for your resume as well.
You need to make sure that every sentence has purpose and leaps off of the page. Even great work experience can read poorly if it's cluttered with passive language. There's a specific sentence structure that really helps focus your writing and highlight your specific impact. Try writing sentences using the following format: "Accomplished X, as measured by Y, by doing Z".
Some online resume builders might have similar recommended formats. Hiring managers need to know exactly what you did and how you contributed in your previous jobs. This structure builds clear, concise statements about your accomplishments and creates fodder for your resume objectives.
Don't write every sentence with this structure but make sure your bullet points are similarly focused.
It's a mistake to write cover letters and resume objectives separately. They may be different documents but they have the same goal: getting you your dream job. The skills you highlight in your cover letter should be consistent with your resume and resume objectives.
The challenge is that your cover letter will be roughly a page long and you'll need to condense it into two punchy sentences. Find the two key points you're trying to get across with your cover letter and use them as the basis for your resume objectives.
Don't just cut and paste; you'll likely need to make some changes. Your first sentence can discuss your skills or experience while the second should convey your interest and passion for the role. Just make sure that your story is consistent.
Discrepancies will attract attention and could disqualify you early in the application process. It should go without saying, but don't reuse cover letters; it's incredibly easy to talk about why you want to work for a different company.
This should go without saying, but after you write your objectives it's critical to double-check your work. Make sure you spell check your resume objectives for typos, errors, and bad grammar. One of the easiest mistakes to make (and hardest for spell check to catch) is missing prepositions. Your resume objectives occupy the most visible real estate on your resume and any errors will be easy to spot. A typo at the top of your resume will stand out and could easily disqualify your application.
A recruiter will find that error and ask (rightfully so) how he can trust your attention to detail when you can't even spell check your own resume. Read your objectives a few times to make sure there aren't any hidden typos.
One of the best ways to check your work is to read your resume objectives out loud. Actually reading out them loud makes it easier to catch those hidden mistakes. Some people also read backwards to check for those missing prepositions. After that, maybe have a friend review your objectives one last time to make sure they are ready for submission. You've spent enough time on your resume objectives that one more set of eyes can't hurt. If you decide to make any changes, repeat the whole editing process. You'd be surprised how easy it is to introduce new errors.
Every interview is a learning opportunity, especially if you don't get the job. After every interview you should be taking notes and saving them for future interviews. Write down the questions you were asked, particularly the tough ones, as well as how you think you performed. Keep your notes in a single folder and highlight the company name and date for easy reference. You'd be surprised how quickly you'll find that information useful the next time you're job hunting. If possible, try and get feedback from HR or the hiring manager when you learn you've been disqualified. Not all interviewers will be willing to give feedback but ask for it every time.
Most companies have policies against providing specific feedback for fear of lawsuits. Oftentimes you'll receive the generic "we've decided to move forward with candidates whose skills more closely meet our needs". However, if you know the interviewer you may be able to have an off the record conversation. Otherwise, some interviewers will be willing to hop on the phone and briefly tell you why you didn't get the job. That feedback can be incredibly valuable.
Maybe your "story" about why you're a good fit didn't come through. It could be that there were specific technical skills that were missing or need improvement. Sometimes it's simply a question of "fit" and there was nothing more you could have done. There are a variety of reasons why you might not get the job but knowing the reason can help prepare you for your next interview. Use that feedback to refine your objectives and make sure you have the best chance of getting to "yes".
You are not just a resume, even if that's all HR will see when you submit an application. The problem is finding ways to stand out on paper. Resume objectives are an opportunity to add color to your application and help the interviewer understand why you're right for the role. Those two sentences are a way to connect on a human level with the person who decides whether you even get an interview. The important thing is that your application package is compelling and consistent.
Use your cover letter as a starting point and make sure to highlight key words and critical skills to get the reader's attention. Read the job posting thoroughly and figure out what skills the firm really needs. HR still scans applications for keywords and you want to make sure yours is flagged. You only have two sentences but make sure you pack as much information into those sentences as possible. Once you've put words on paper, be diligent about checking for errors. Have your friends or family take a look too if you don't trust that you can edit your own work. If you can, use feedback from past interviews to constantly improve your resume objectives. Depending on the jobs you're applying for, you may need new resume objectives for every application. Over time you'll figure out what language really hits home with hiring managers. Your resume objectives can make or break your chance to interview so make sure those two sentences sing loud and clear why you deserve the job.