What is a Career Objective on a Resume?

A person in a wheelchair is at their kitchen table, writing something in a notepad while looking at their laptop

What is a resume career objective?

Also referred to as a resume summary or professional summary, it’s a two or three sentence statement—near the top of your resume below your name and contact info—that establishes a few points:

  • That you want a specific job*
  • That you’re qualified for the job
  • That you—and your skills that are relevant to the job—will help the company succeed

*If you’re distributing your resume at a career fair or networking event, you will not be able to speak to a specific job, making your resume career objective more generic. We’ll continue this article as if you’re applying to a specific job.

Why is it important?

The reality is, you should never underestimate the power of communicating your desires and abilities in an effective, concise manner. Why? Because today’s hiring managers value confidence and communication in a major way (mainly because they’re difficult soft skills to teach) and both of those attributes clearly show in how you write your resume’s career objective. It sets the tone just as much as anything else you’ll write during your job search (such as your cover letter) and acts as your first not-in-person impression.

When do I need it?

While lacking a resume summary might not be the end of the world, it certainly could take away from your resume, so why not include it? It’s one of many factors—along with your grammar, your tone, how closely your experience relates to a job, how closely your skills relate to a job, etc.—that determine the effectiveness of your resume, but it’s an important one. Here at Adecco, our general rule of thumb is this: Always include it, regardless if the position you’re applying for is white-collar, blue-collar, professional, temporary, full-time, or part-time. (By the way, here’s how to make your resume stand out.)

How do I write (and format) it?

Start with a brainstorm. Think about yourself, the job and the company. Not one or the other, but all three. Specifically, how your career goals and skills align with the job duties and company culture. It’s important to combine those things as best—and as intuitively—as you can. If you can see those things complementing one another and resulting in a mutually beneficial employer-employee relationship (as opposed to something that’s selfish), the hiring manager should see the same.

It's also helpful—albeit in limited space—to use some outcome-oriented language around your past experiences if possible. Phrases like “demonstrated results" or “successful projects and strategies" suggest you've had your fair share of achievements and can do the same in this new position. As far as the performance metrics related to your “demonstrated results” and “successful projects,” you can include those later on in your resume.

The actual formatting of your resume career objective is simple. Write your two to three sentences in a small paragraph stretching across (or centered, if you prefer) the top of your resume, again, below your contact information. Bullet points will dominate your resume in spots, but your career objective should be a whole thought written as a cohesive paragraph.

Resume Career Objective Samples

Remember, your objective should be unique, but it will help to get some inspiration from these sample summaries.

Sample One – Office Manager at Marketing Agency ABC

20 years of experience managing two offices highlighted by cutting supply costs, improving efficiencies and reorganizing administrative processes. Looking to bring my communication, organizational and people skills—and make a measurable difference for your office and my career—to an admired, progressive company like Marketing Agency ABC.

Sample Two – Quality Control Supervisor at Auto Manufacturer 123

Ambitious, career climber who rose from general laborer to shift leader to line manager at major automotive parts manufacturer. Won employee of the month three times largely due to my consistently positive attitude and production levels. Look forward to doing the same—and running a meticulous quality control process—at such a great, respected company like Auto Manufacturer 123.

For much more career advice, check out our Resources Center. Ready to start applying? Browse our job openings now!

Related Articles

How to get a job fast: 5 Strategies that work
Sometimes, you just need to land a new job, fast. 
read more
What to do when you get laid off: A step-by-step checklist
Getting laid off is never easy, but having a clear plan can make the stress feel much more manageable.
read more