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Objective statements: are they important?

As many students are scrambling to finish up their internship and post-grad job applications, I’ve noticed a lot of confusion on whether or not an objective statement was necessary and if they decided they were, nobody knew what exactly to say. The realm of objective statements is definitely full of gray areas, but we’re here to navigate it with you.

As stated by our very own Career Services Consultant, Tamara Clarkson, one of the times where having an objective statement is helpful is during a career fair. When recruiters are speaking to hundreds of students while simultaneously collecting a large pile of resumes, it’s helpful for them to see what kind of position you are seeking so that they can sort through resumes as needed and easily evaluate your ability to be a successful candidate regarding your desired position.

Objective statements can also be helpful when your resume isn’t exactly tailored to a specific position. If you lack specific experiences and are using mostly part-time jobs and various other activities such as Dance Marathon or College Mentors For Kids to round out your skill set (all great additives to a resume), it can confuse employers on what exactly you’re seeking. If it’s not very obvious what kind of job your seeking through previous experiences, an objective statement can clear that up for potential employers.

However, you should definitely not write an objective statement if you have the opportunity to write a cover letter. It will most likely end up being redundant, and cover letters allow you to expand on your skill set and write more eloquently than you would be able to in an objective statement.

If you’ve decided an objective statement would benefit you, keep these things in mind.

Make objective statements as specific as possible.

Do you know exactly which positions and which companies you’re applying to? Try to create customized resumes for each of them stating your desired position at XYZ company during this time period. Some examples would be “To obtain a management position within XYZ company” or “To obtain an electrical engineering internship with ABC company during the Summer of 2015.”Don’t know enough details to be that specific? Specify the desired field you want to go into. Some more examples would be “To obtain an internship in human resources” or “To obtain a position in analytics within an advertising agency.”

Don’t tell the company what they can do for you.

If you feel the need to expand more on your objective statement than just a simple “To obtain a programming internship with JKL Inc.,” then don’t add on anything like “To gain experience in programming during an internship with JKL Inc.” Instead, focus more on what you can bring to the company and less about what you can gain and learn from them. Especially when applying for an internship, it’s a given that you’re looking to gain experience in the real world. Try putting something like “To obtain a programming internship within JKL Inc. and improve data-related operations throughout the company.”

Overall, objective statements should be brief and to the point. Be sure to always be as specific as possible and avoid using verbs such as “looking for” or “searching” in your objective statement. You are already seeking jobs and therefore are looking to obtain the positions you’re applying for. Always opt for a cover letter if the opportunity to write one is there.

If you still need advice and would like a review over any cover letters, objective statements or resumes, please come by the CCO in YOUNG 132 during drop in hours M-F between 10 AM and 4 PM.

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