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What Is a Statement of Career Objectives?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Shereen Skola
  • Last Modified Date: 22 November 2016
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A statement of career objectives provides a brief overview of an applicant’s goals and strengths. On a resume, Curriculum Vitae (CV), or job application, prospective employers may determine if a candidate would be a good match for a company and a position. Some applications for fellowships, postgraduate education, and similar opportunities also require career objectives, which provide information about applicants that may help admissions committees make decisions. This brief statement acts like an introduction and can determine whether the reader looks further or decides a candidate is not of interest.

Typically, a statement of career objectives is not more than a few sentences, and shouldn’t exceed two paragraphs, unless an applicant has been specifically directed otherwise. It is positive in nature, stressing strengths and credentials. Someone with limited education or experience in the field can prove suitability for the position despite these drawbacks with positive wording. Overall, the statement of career objectives tells the reader what the applicant is hoping to accomplish and may provide insight into the applicant’s working philosophy.

These statements are often customized for the employer, rather than being used generically on a resume, to ensure the best match. In addition to highlighting skills and interests, an applicant can also allude to a prospective employer’s values or history to demonstrate a good fit. For example, someone applying for a position with an environmentally conscious firm might mention an interest in ecologically friendly activities or the development of new technologies and techniques for preserving the environment.

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For entry-level positions, employers don’t expect a statement of career objectives to indicate a desire to stay in such positions for life. Instead, the statement may indicate a desire to build up skills and experience in the industry. This also indicates that the applicant has drive and an interest in developing a strong career, rather than looking only at short-term employment solutions. Conversely, an applicant for a high-ranking position that might be considered a “dream job” could freely admit that leading a major organization or taking a leadership role on a project is a career objective.

Preparing resumes and other components of job applications can be challenging. It is often difficult to avoid cliched or empty statements that may not provide much information to prospective employers, and could be a potential turnoff. It can help to have a friend review a statement of career objectives to confirm that it is interesting and reads well, with the goal of drawing the reader in. A statement with empty phrases like “to develop professionally” and “to take an active role in teamwork” is less likely to appeal than one that stands out for originality or quirkiness, if appropriate to the employer.

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