Research shows that a Recruiter or HR Professional will only spend between 30 to 60 seconds on each CV they receive. A career objective helps ensure your CV catches their attention so that they can quickly determine if you could be right for the job in question. It’s a short paragraph which acts as an introduction and orientation detailing what position you want and highlighting the qualities and skills that make you ideal for the role. A career objective is a must for graduates, Returners to work and those seeking a change of career.
For graduate or entry-level applicant it can help flesh out an otherwise slim CV and shows an employer that you have a chosen direction. If you are looking for a change of career than an objective communicates your decision to definitely change career direction.
It should be no longer than five lines and must add value to your CV. Don't waste the reader's time. Be specific, don’t use vague words and phrases. Explain the kind of role or opportunity you are looking for and what you can offer the prospective employer.
The 4 elements for a career objective are:
- Who you are. Eg a recent graduate or an experienced administrator.
- What you can do. Put in the skills most relevant to the job you’re applying for.
- What you are looking for. Simply state the job or the type of work you are applying for. Be specific here unless you are handing out CVs at a job fair.
- Goals for your future. This is optional. It is not your full 10 year plan but more what you hope to learn or gain from the next role you are applying for. Here are some examples of career objectives:
- A published newspaper journalist with editing background seeking staff writing position. Looking for room to grow and the ability to increase my knowledge of the industry.
- A hard-working detail-orientated recent University graduate seeking a career in software development with the banking environment. Looking for room to grow and the ability to learn all I can about the industry.
- Seeing a position in sales where six years of customer service experience will add value.
- A position where three years of management experience will contribute.
After you have written your career objective ask yourself these questions:
- Does it show me as a qualified candidate for the position I’m applying for ?
- Does it emphasize my relevant skills ?
- Will it act as a hook for them to read the rest of my CV ?
WARNING: A poorly constructed career objective is often worse than none at all.
Tailor your career objective for the different types of jobs that you are applying for. Your career objective is a bit like the opening act of your CV. It sets the stage for the content that follows. Make sure you grab the reader’s attention so they read the rest of your CV.