What Is an Objectives Statement?

The career objective describes the work you want to pursue and where you want to do it. Your résumé supports your objective, and persuades potential employers of your ability to do the kind of work you seek.

Your objective is a personal statement: It says specifically who you are, what you want to achieve, and shows the employer that you have direction. Employers have a problem to be solved or a need to get something done, and hire people to solve problems and do things. The challenge in defining your objective is deciding what to include such as job titles, specific skills, industry, or job function, and what to omit.

Four different types of objectives

  • Type 1: Very specific about desired job title and company
    Eample: A team leader in a chemical synthesis lab at Eastman Chemicals or very similar company.
  • Type 2: Specific about job area and company type
    Example: Research and development technologist in a chemicals company involved in nanotechnology.
  • Type 3: Descriptive of general job area
    To obtain a job in a chemical or analytical laboratory.
  • Type 4: Very general about job area
    Example: A job in chemistry.
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The Type 4 objective, “A job in chemistry,” is too broad - it leaves the impression that you are indecisive and unable to make decisions and set goals. However, a slightly general job objective such as “a job in a chemical or analytical laboratory,” leaves your options open. For example, if you are attending an ACS career fair and handing out résumés to several different companies, your objective should be more general.

By comparison, having a very specific and highly targeted job objective clearly conveys what you want to do. This gives you an edge over people sending generic résumés to all kinds of companies, in the hopes that the company will recognize a need that matches their qualifications. However, such a targeted objective could inadvertently rule you out for other opportunities you might have considered.

If your previous jobs are different from the type of job that you are now seeking, having a specific objective communicates your decision to change careers and that you have identified a new path for yourself.

Which level of specificity is typically best for a résumé? Type 2 would be a good choice because it's tailored to a specific position in a specific area. You may decide to use your objective in your cover letters instead of your résumé. In either case, a clear objective will help you to target your search and communicate with potential employers more effectively.  It will also be useful in your networking efforts, to communicate with colleagues.