Employers sometimes spend only a few seconds scanning each resume they receive, pass resumes around without the attendant cover letter, and use them to remind themselves of the applicant's identity. Because an objective gives employers a snapshot of potential employees, college students should spend time crafting a good example. In this way they highlight their skills right away even when their experience is understandably limited.


A resume functions as self-advertisement. The objective serves to target your audience. The objective in a resume is one statement that summarizes the job candidate's career goals, job expectations and work qualities. The purpose of the objective is to grab potential employers' attention by stating concisely why they should hire that candidate over others. The objective is especially important for college students and recent graduates since the relevant work experience section of their resume is likely to be thin; therefore, they want to make a strong first impression.

Writing the Objective

College students and recent graduates may have difficulty focusing their career goals into a statement. The first step is to brainstorm what type of position they want, where they want to work and what skills and qualities they bring to the workplace. They should keep previous work experience in mind. Students then target their career goals by describing how they are the perfect candidate for a position. For instance, the following objective works when applying to work as a salesperson in an electronics store: "Objective – a sales position in which to demonstrate my customer service experience and commitment to exceeding sales goals." The objective shows that the candidate knows the position's requirements and can fill them.

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Objective Formats

Applicants have a couple of options for the format. One method is to start with the title of the position, as in the above example and the following: "an entry-level management position in hospitality during which I can utilize my training to exemplify the company's commitment to comfort." Both examples state the desired position, career goal and what the candidate brings to the workplace. The other option is to start with a strong action verb stating the candidate's qualities and finishing with the job title: "to demonstrate my customer service experience and commitment by exceeding goals in a sales position." Either way, the applicant highlights his or her qualities in a statement potential employers can quickly scan.

Strengthening Objectives

Companies receive hundreds, if not thousands, of resumes for a position, and they often start with the objective. As such, objectives should be short; one sentence is sufficient for college students or graduates who likely have little experience in the given field. Second, the objective needs to focus on the target audience, stating in specific terms what the position is and what skills are required. In that vein, the objective should focus more on what the candidate brings than what he or she wants. Finally, the objective should include strong action verbs and demonstrable qualities for the position as in the following example: "to apply my analytical and organizational skills to achieving project goals as an administrative support intern."

About the Author

Nadia Archuleta has a B.A. in English writing. She spent five years working abroad and has traveled extensively. She has worked as an English as a Foreign/Second Language teacher for 12 years.