Who do you want to be when you grow up? As a kid, you could immediately answer it in one line — doctor, teacher, engineer, CEO! But as you move into adulthood, deciding how you want your job to progress gets harder. On one hand, you have plenty of options and opportunities. On the other, pursuing the ones you truly want isn’t always feasible: you may lack the skills, experience, or courage to push for that job. And that’s exactly why you need to formalize your career objectives and career goals.
So What are Career Objectives?
The concept of career objectives can be tackled from two angles.
First, you have a career (resume) objective — a short, succinct statement that you place atop of your resume to summarize your skills, experiences, and your expectations of the new role. A resume objective serves as a quick teaser to the busy HR manager, prompting them to delve further into reading your entire submission. You should customize your career objective to every job application you file.
Secondly, you can have your personal career objectives or your career goals — the results you’d want to attain in the short- and long-term perspectives, along with your ways of reaching these. Your career goals should be clearly aligned with your career objectives. Or else, you risk sounding incoherent during your job interview if the hiring manager pops the popular “what are your career objectives?” question.
So in short, you need to have two things ready:
- A set of customizable resume objectives to add to your resume
- A lengthier personalized account of career objectives that you can refer to during your job search and at the interview.
What Are Some Good Career Objectives Examples?
You may not like this answer, but it’s up to you to decide! Before you begin your job search, have an honest conversation with yourself, and decide what are your priorities for the next job. Here are some pointers for you to consider.
Diversify Your Skill Set
If you feel like you are stuck in a rut with your job or hit a career ceiling, you may want to prioritize job opportunities that can help you diversify your skillset. For example:
- Consider transitioning horizontally to another industry (e.g. electric engineer for a consumer goods company to an electrical engineer for a chemistry company)
- Venture into a managerial position — seek vertical career progression (e.g. software developer to team lead or project manager).
- Look into adjacent roles that you could pursue with some extra upskilling (e.g. graphic designer to UX designer).
In any case, look for opportunities that best align with your short-term career goals and could meaningfully contribute to your ultimate career vision.
For example: as a junior retail clerk, you may eventually want to head customer success operations in a global retail chain. But you won’t be able to make that leap within just one promotion. So focus on finding some solid opportunities that can contribute to your long term career goals:
Junior retail clerk => store manager => e-commerce customer success specialist =>CS manager => CS head of operations
Now let’s break this down into separate career objectives that you could discuss with your current or future employer:
During the interview, you can further elaborate on what motivates you to pursue a managerial role in physical retail and how you’d eventually like to transition to e-commerce and why.
Gain New Work Experience
You may be worried that now you have settled down and have a family to support that the long-term stability of your job is at risk. Job stability is an important factor of any career goal, so you need to set yourself objectives to make sure that your career path and progression remains stable, even when your job may be at risk.
That’s why looking for a new position that diversifies your work experience may be a solid move if you feel that your current skill set is getting rusty and you are at risk of becoming redundant in your current role as the industry moves forward.
If you are contemplating a career change, reflect that in your career objectives statement on your resume. After all, your work experience section may not fully speak to your desire for a change, whereas a succinct statement can draw the HR’s attention to your new skills and education that you’ve been gaining as part of your transition.
Here’s a quick career objective example for someone looking for a career change:
You can then use a resume template with a separate skills section to highlight other soft and hard skills that are relevant to the new position you are seeking.
Increase Your Salary
Let’s be honest, most of us crave a new job because of the money factor. You may be unhappy in your current position because you think you are being underpaid and undervalued at work. That needs to change!
However, money is a touchy subject with some HRs and employers. In fact, some might even fret upon the fact that “a money-driven candidate is someone with their priorities in the wrong order.”
But don’t let those few people in the industry talk you into the idea that wanting to earn more money is bad. It’s not and you should not feel sorry for having ambitions. After all, the talent market is a marketplace. Every candidate has to know their value and the employer has to be ready to pay the going market rate or even slightly above it.
That being said, let’s take a look at how you can work your way towards a higher salary.
- Prioritize job ads that feature a salary range. In this case, you have a better chance of having a reasonable conversation with the employer regarding your compensation.
- Walk away from interviews where the employer suggests that they tend to put new hires on a below-the-market rate salary at first and then reward them for results. High chances are that will never happen.
- Invest in yourself to justify your new going rate. You can make yourself more valuable in the eyes of your employer by taking up in-house training programs or adding to your skillset by completing useful training outside of work.
In certain industries, you could get even more proactive and openly discuss your expectations around the base salary and bonuses. Tim Tolan, an experienced recruiter, especially recommends doing so for candidates ‘vying for a sales or sales leadership role.’
And when the time comes to answer the ‘what are your salary expectations?’ interview question keep your ultimate figure in mind and then do the following:
- Suggest a range that matches your career objectives and is in line with the industry average. Don’t make it too broad though. A good variance is no more than $5,000 to $10,000.
- Mention that you are open to negotiations and can tolerate a lower base salary for annual bonuses, stock options, or some other perks that you may be interested in.
- Deflect the question. If you are early into your job search and don’t feel comfortable giving a certain rate, merely state that you need to do more research and thinking.
Here are some sample answers that you can use in this conversation:
If you are not ready to talk about your salary expectations, try saying the following:
Improved Job Satisfaction
Being miserable and disengaged in your current job is a solid reason for wanting a change. While bashing your former employer is a big no-no, you can still hint that you are looking for more challenging, exciting, and gratifying work opportunities straight from your resume.
Here are several career objective statements that reflect that:
Alternatively, if you are not ready to go to the job market just yet, you should also seek for more meaningful work inside your company. Schedule that conversation with an HR and ask if you could:
- Be moved to another team, working on a more interesting project.
- Get more responsibilities, such as a supervisory role, handling extra or more complex accounts that require a deeper level of knowledge or skill.
- Be placed on a management training course or undergo some other type of professional training so that you could apply for a different job within the same company.
It’s okay to feel dissatisfied and unfulfilled with your job. But you can’t leave that feeling to linger! Instead, use the tips from our post to map out your career goals, adapt them into a set of career objectives for your resume, and use those quick statements to move your career in the right direction!
This article has been originally published on September 11, 2017 and has been extensively revised and updated on September 22, 2020.