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On average, potential employers will spend only 30 seconds scanning your entire résumé, and if they come across a poorly written objective, your entire résumé can die a premature death. The résumé objective plays a key role in making a first impression. It’s analogous to the handshake in the actual interview. In other words, the résumé objective occupies expensive real-estate on the page because it’s the first piece of information the employer will read after the contact information. It’s wise to write it with care. Here are some things to consider.

First, recognize that having one is optional. It’s your choice! Its purpose is to convey your career goals. It should also begin to tell the story of what makes you unique and why you’re the best candidate for the position. Consider this one.

To obtain a position where I can excel in my multilayer of excellent communication skills, professionalism, proficient computer, analytical, and organizational skills, and ability to surpass tribulations with creativity using my prior education and work experience.

Did you find yourself breathless from this long-winded, unintelligible collection of words? I know the recruiter did. In fact, he thought it was so awful he sent it to me to share with you.

So what makes a good résumé objective?

1.    Conciseness. Ideally it should be no more than one or two lines. Keep in mind it’s a phrase not a complete sentence. Look for words to cut. Make every word count as if you were paying for it–because you are in the use of that valuable 30 seconds your potential employer may give you.

2.    Audience Benefit. Don’t make this about how you’ll benefit from working there. Here’s an example of this type of loser objective.

I want to utilize my skills to play a major part in watching a company grow and further enhance my knowledge of energy and mineral engineering.

If you were writing a come-on for OkCupid or eHarmony would you write, “male looking for a female to do his laundry,” or “female looking for a male to start her car in the dead of winter”? Of course not, because you know to attract a date you have to tell the potential romantic partner what’s in it for him/her. Even though the language is different for the professional application of writing an objective, the idea is the same. If you can think of two or three key adjectives that describe who you are, you may want to start with these.

3.    Skills. Emphasize the skills you have developed in the experiences you’ve had. In other words, the objective is part career summary and part description of the job you are seeking along with a bit of a tease of what you can offer. Here’s an example. 

Energetic, self-reliant engineer with research experience and excellent analytical skills seeking an entry-level position in ABC Company

Keep in mind that the objective helps your employer quickly evaluate your competency for the vacancy. If it’s done well, you can set a positive tone for the whole résumé. If it’s not, the Grim Reaper may claim your résumé.

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