At its core, an objective statement is a declaration of objectives at the start of a document, such as a lesson plan, research document or project proposal, though the most popular example of an objective statement is that used in a resume. An objective statement is one of the two most popular introductions on a resume, the other being a summary statement and while objective statements are not as widely used these days as the summary statement, there are still situations where a they are the best option. Objective statements should usually be around two or three sentences long and describe your professional goals.

Why Use an Objectives Statement

Resume writing experts largely urge people to stick with career summaries rather than objective statements. That's because objectives are generally passive, do not include hard metrics and are focused on the job seeker, all of which can be negatives to a hiring manager. For example, an objective statement might read:

"As a recent honors graduate from Duke University, I am experienced with all the newest technologies and common practices related to the modern banking industry. I hope to build upon my knowledge of the industry and natural customer service skills by serving as the new junior loan officer at ABC Banking."

On the other hand, a career summary might say:

"In my 20 years of experience managing retail stores, I have overseen a total of 500 employees. In my last position, I helped reduce shrinkage by 35%, reduced employee turnover by 18% and guided the store through a massive POS system upgrade."

In most cases, a career summary that covers your experience and includes hard facts is preferable to an objective statement as it explicitly states how you could help the company rather than just why you would like to work with a company.

But there are cases where you might not have enough relevant experience to create a powerful career summary. That is usually because you're just starting out in the workforce, are looking to advance in the field or because you're looking to change careers. In these cases, a well-written objective can help prove that you have the right attitude and a real interest in the job, even if you don't have the experience to back it up. It's important to recognize that objective statements should vary based on the specific position you are applying to, which is why it can be useful to find resume objective examples for multiple jobs before creating your own.

Writing an Objective Statement

As the first piece on your resume, your objectives statement may be the first thing a hiring manager sees about you, so it's important that it's compelling and relevant. In the past, people would once write totally vague resume objectives that were utterly unhelpful, but modern objectives should never be generic and must always have additional context or some broader goals of the job seeker. General resume objective examples like "Hoping to find employment as a customer service agent" or "Seeking to find a company that can benefit from my exceptional marketing skills" should always be avoided.

Instead, when writing an objective statement for your resume, follow these tips:

  • Be concise: Limit your statement to no more than three sentences and try to remove filler words to make your statement short and powerful. While this is the intro, the meat of your resume should be your experience and/or education and your focus should be on these areas.

  • Be specific: Long gone are the days where you could copy and paste non-specific resume objective examples online and hope to get a job with a statement like "Seeking employment with a firm that will allow me to apply my skills and grow my experience." Nowadays, your statement should be specifically tailored to the position and based on the information in the job listing.

  • Focus on your greatest strengths: You only have a little space to highlight your skills or experience here, so don't try to list everything you can do. Instead, just focus on strengths that are related to the role and that you're most proud of.

  • Highlight relevant education: While your education is listed later on, if you have any licenses, certifications or degrees directly relevant to the position, you may want to include it here, especially if you're short on actual work experience in the area.

  • Offer value: Include information on how you can help the organization, whether due to your work history, your unique skills, your ambition, etc. This can help you stand out among other applicants.

Objective Statements for New Workers

Those who are new to the job market can benefit most from objective statements. Student resume objective examples sometimes focus on the school the applicant attends, but unless you're going to an Ivy League college or one with a great reputation in the field you're applying to, it may be preferable to leave the school's name out and focus instead on what you studied. For example, "I am a self-motivated business school graduate looking for a full-time position in the investment industry where I can apply my extensive knowledge of market analytics and fluctuations to advise customers on how to improve their returns."

Objective Statements for Career Changes

Those who are hoping to change careers can also often benefit from a resume objective as it can help establish that while their work experience may not be directly related, they offer plenty of transferable skills. As an example, someone who has worked in retail sales but wants to work in marketing could say, "In my eight years as a senior salesperson at Fischer's Fashions, I learned quite a lot about what makes shoppers motivated to buy a product. I look forward to the opportunity to adapt this knowledge to creating compelling advertising campaigns for shoppers while expanding my knowledge of the marketing industry."

Alternatively, if you're hoping to move up in your career, you may want to emphasize that you have the experience necessary to step up to the next level even if you do not have experience working in the position yet. An example of an objective statement for someone seeking advancement in their industry might read, "As a teacher with 17 years of experience teaching at Roosevelt Middle School, I am looking for the opportunity to serve as the vice principal of Jefferson High School. I am eager to use my proven discipline and leadership skills and my ability to work with students from all backgrounds to help students reach their full potential and aid the district in maintaining its impressive reputation in the local community."

Objective Statements for Relocations

A less common reason someone might opt to use an objective statement is because they are moving to a new geographic area. When you apply for a job in another city, it's possible the address on your resume could confuse the hiring manager, but an objective statement that mentions the fact that you are moving can help prevent you for being disqualified because you live too far away.

Some resume objective examples related to relocations include:

  • Current software developer with over 15 years in the industry seeking to begin work with a fast-growing startup when I relocate to San Francisco in November. I am eager to use my experience with Ruby Rails, JavaScript and CSS to help a new company grow from the ground up.
  • I am a kitchen manager relocating to Miami in September and seeking to begin work as a sous chef with an established restaurant. I have over nine years in the restaurant industry, including five years as a kitchen manager and look forward to increasing my experience as part of a well-respected team like that of Fish Restaurant.

Other Types of Objective Statements

While objective statements are mostly used in resumes, there are other places these may be used as well, such as lesson plans, project proposals and research documents. When looking for examples of how to use these statements, it's important to look up specific examples based on what type of document you are working on. For example, to come up with a lesson plan objective statement, start out by brainstorming "After this lesson, students will be able to ___" and the blank should be your objective. For example, a lesson plan objective could be "evaluate Twain's use of satire in 'Huckleberry Finn.'"

In a project proposal, an objective is a step towards the overall project goal. Objectives should meet the SMART criteria, meaning they are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound. For example, if your overall object is to improve the customer service process by establishing a new online customer support portal, then your object should be to create a new knowledge base containing information to answer all of the most commonly asked customer questions.

Establishing Research Objectives

Research documents are unique in that, whether working on market research or scientific research, while your research document will be completed after the results have already been completed, you should establish clear research objectives before you ever even begin the research. These objectives are questions and they should cover the types and categories of information you hope to obtain. When you actually commence the research, these objectives can help steer you in the right direction as you work. In marketing research, you will usually have multiple objectives, for example:

  • How many brands are in the market? 
  • Are there more sales in rural or urban areas?
  • Why do customers prefer one product over another?
  • How does price affect consumer behavior?
  • If a product is rejected in the market, why did customers reject it?