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What Is an Objective on a Resume?

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Even an outstanding resume can't guarantee you a job, although it can get your foot in the door. Once there, you can market your skills, expertise and aptitude during the interview. But what can make your resume stand out among the rest is a focal point, or something that captures the reader's attention and compels the recruiter or hiring manager to learn more about your qualifications. A resume objective may be the literal and figurative focal point of a resume -- it's what the reader sees after your name and it's a summary of your capabilities and the type of company best suited for your qualifications.

Objective vs. Introduction

An introduction on your resume tells the reader who you are, while an effective objective convinces the reader that what the company needs and what you're seeking are a match. An objective isn't all about you. As they review resumes, many hiring managers may be asking themselves, "What's in it for me or the company?" Rephrase that question from the job seeker's perspective and an objective should answer "What's in it for them?" according to Palladian Career Resources post titled, "50 Resume Objective Statements."

Location, Location, Location

The objective should appear just below the resume header so that it's the next thing the reader sees after your name and contact information. They say location is everything, and given the amount of space you have to tell a prospective employer about your professional career, two 8-1/2 by 11-inch sheets of paper don't provide much room to share your achievements. Therefore, the objective should be prominently situated in the top third of the page.

Capturing Attention

Resume objectives can serve more than one purpose, but the main one is to capture the reader's attention. When recruiters and hiring managers have to review stacks of resumes in search of that potential star candidate, each resume might get 15 seconds worth of attention, and often less. A compelling objective statement that contains strategic keywords relevant to the job posting and the company's mission or philosophy can be effective. For example, if you are interested in working for an organization known for its commitment to superior customer service, your objective might include, "Customer-focused professional with 15 years of management experience in retail sales, looking for a leadership role with an organization whose mission is customer-driven performance."

Is It Really Worth It?

An objective can't hurt a job seeker's chances of being recognized as a prime candidate. The absence of an objective, however, might cause a hiring manager to move quickly on to the next resume because there's nothing to summarize the applicant's purpose or interest in the company. Two goals for a resume objective are to encourage the recruiter or hiring manager to read your entire resume and, ultimately, pique her interest enough to extend an invitation for you to interview for the job.