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4 Easy Steps to a Powerful Resume Objective

Despite its name, your resume Objective is not supposed to state your objective. At least not exclusively. Like every other part of your resume, the Objective should demonstrate the value you can bring to the employer. Don't waste valuable resume space with a generic Objective about wanting "…a challenging opportunity in a growth-oriented company," or a self-centered wish list for "a fun and creative position in a firm that will respect my unique ideas." Use it to sell yourself!

Here's a before-and-after example to illustrate how you can take a boring Objective, apply the four steps, and turn it into a strong marketing tool:

Before
OBJECTIVE: A responsible administrative position in a non-profit organization

After
OBJECTIVE: To transfer the office management expertise gained during eight years in a corporate setting to a managerial-level position for an established non-profit that needs fundraising and event-planning talent

I'm about to give you the easy four-step system for building an impressive Objective that will contribute to your real objective of getting an interview and getting hired. But first consider this: Do you even need an Objective on your resume? Many job seekers don't. If you've already established a career path and you're not veering from it, skip the Objective and use a Summary of Qualifications instead.

You only need an Objective if your career goal is not obvious from your work history, as is the case with most students and entry-level applicants, people switching careers, or those returning to work after an extended absence. If that's you, read on.

Your "Objective" in 4 Easy Steps
Choose one option from each of the four sections. Fill in the blanks. Edit as needed. Put them all together, and you'll have a solid Objective that helps make your case.

1. Opening

     •   To contribute [or "transfer" if you're changing careers]
     •   To apply 
     •   To build upon

2. Relevant Experience

     •   X years of progressive experience in the ____ field 
     •   a solid X-year education in X, along with ____ 
     •   the expertise and skills gained during X years in the ____ industry

3. Job Type and Level

     •   to an entry-level ____ position 
     •   to a ____ position in ____  
     •   in a responsible role as a ____

4. Type of Organization

     •   with an organization that values ____ 
     •   in a growing business than can benefit from ____ 
     •   for an established firm that needs ____

The beauty of this system is that it's flexible. Mix and match, play around with the wording, and customize the Objective to match specific employers' terminology. For more ideas, check out Purdue University's Online Writing Lab (OWL), one of my favorite online writing resources.

Any other thoughts or questions about resume Objectives? Add a comment!

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