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What Does a Career Objective Mean?

by Karen S. Johnson, studioD

Your career objective is what you aspire to be and where you hope to go in your work life. It can be very practical and objective, reflect a career dream or both. Think about what you want to do in your professional life in one year, five years and even ultimately. It can always change, but each defined goal is a career objective.

Your Work Passion

Writing down your career objective is your opportunity to put into words what you dream of doing professionally. For example, if engineering is your passion, say so and then be specific about why. If you want to be a partner in an engineering firm in the next five years, that’s a worthy objective. Employers will know you’re serious and will do what it takes to move up the ranks to reach your goal.

Still Feeling Things Out

You can keep your options open and still have a bona fide career objective. For example, if you’re relatively new to an industry, you can list your objective as wanting to work in a certain area, such as political communications or sustainable agriculture. You still have an objective, but you’re keeping your options open until you’ve gained more experience. This is a good option for new college graduates.

Better Than Basic Skills

Include skills in your objective, regardless of how far along you are in your career. If you’re just starting out, you will likely list more general skills rather than specific ones. For example, if you’re just entering the engineering field, you might emphasize your technical skills. After you’ve gained experience, you can add skills like problem-solving, management and leadership. An example might look like this: “To work for an engineering firm that needs my technical skills while allowing me to put my leadership and management experience to work motivating a team to solve customer problems.”

A Creative Slant

Some industries cry for a more creative angle; in fact, prospective employers in creative fields often look for signs of creativity in how you present yourself through your resume. The advertising industry or an all-natural food supplier that caters to a young and hip clientele are two examples. If you’ve done your research on the company’s corporate culture and a more creative angle seems to fit its style, demonstrate that in your career objective. One way to do that is to make it more of a slogan, or tag line, that describes you and your skills. You’re “branding” yourself and selling it to the company. For example: “Graphic designer extraordinaire with an innate ability to transform the client’s desires into meaningful art.”

About the Author

Based in Central Texas, Karen S. Johnson is a marketing professional with more than 30 years' experience and specializes in business and equestrian topics. Her articles have appeared in several trade and business publications such as the Houston Chronicle. Johnson also co-authored a series of communications publications for the U.S. Agency for International Development. She holds a Bachelor of Science in speech from UT-Austin.

Photo Credits

  • Jeff Randall/Digital Vision/Getty Images