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Resume objectives are an opportunity to showcase your abilities and entice the reader in one or two sentences. Different from an introduction, the best resume objectives appeal to the employer's needs by telling the reader what you bring to the table. Updating your resume objective for each version of your resume can improve your chances for getting an invitation to interview with the hiring manager.
How Much or How Little
What you include in your resume objective is based on personal preference, although best practices suggest that your objective needs to be succinct so that it functions as a teaser, encouraging the reader to continue learning more about your qualifications. That said, play around with two or three sentences, or a short paragraph, to determine whether you're conveying all you want to the recruiter or hiring manager. Avoid verbose objectives -- you needn't describe your entire career aspirations.
Objective Content and Resume Objectives Content
Don't be afraid to toot your horn in a resume objective, but don't toot it too loud. Avoid using pronouns that give your resume a self-centered voice, and don't refer to yourself in the third person. Imagine what a colleague would say about you and use that to frame your objective statement. For example, if you work well on teams and your colleagues commend your contributions to a group effort, use words like "collaborator" or "collaborative leader," to let prospective employers know that you're a team player. In addition, stick to realistic content. Avoid overusing adjectives that paint a picture of a flawless human being. No one fits that profile. On the other hand, never use self-deprecating language. Exude confidence, but not arrogance, in your objective statement.
Market Your Brand
Think of your resume objective as a brief commercial about what you offer a prospective employer. Relevance is key to appealing to the recruiter or hiring manager who reviews your qualifications. If your objective statement is too short, too vague or general, it'll appear as if you're really not focused on the job vacancy. But if you use keywords that speak to what the employer wants, your objective will compel the reader to spend more than the average time looking at your resume. According to a 2012 study published on The Ladders website, recruiters spend an average of six seconds on each resume.
Chameleon Objective Statements
Your resume objective needn't be static. Change your objective to fit each job vacancy for which you submit a resume. For example, if you're an educator applying for a job in the public school district, emphasize your commitment to free education and how your expertise benefits students in the public system. On the other hand, if you're seeking a job with a private academy, the emphasis should be on your experience or expertise in that kind of educational setting.
Ruth Mayhew has been writing since the mid-1980s, and she has been an HR subject matter expert since 1995. Her work appears in "The Multi-Generational Workforce in the Health Care Industry," and she has been cited in numerous publications, including journals and textbooks that focus on human resources management practices. She holds a Master of Arts in sociology from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Ruth resides in the nation's capital, Washington, D.C.