Career objectives tell an employer what you want from your next job. If you're not sure what that is, take time to think about your long-term career ambitions. Identify the skills you want to use, the size and type of company you want to work for, and the position you'd like to have. That should give you the material to craft a good objective.
If you come up with a generic objective -- "I want a position at a successful company" -- you can use it with every job you apply for. That doesn't make it a good idea, though. The HR person reviewing resumes may see dozens a day, and a generic statement won't make yours memorable. Being specific about what you want helps you stand out. It may cost you positions that don't fit your goals, but it reduces the chances that you'll wind up in a gig you hate.
Writing specific objectives isn't an excuse to write a long paragraph. Sum up your goals as concisely as possible. Stripping out any vague stuff about adding value or growing professionally helps -- the company knows you're not looking to stagnate. Omitting "I want" statements helps too. Rather than "I want a position in IT marketing," trim it to "Position in IT marketing." Reread your objective to confirm trimming it down hasn't cut out important details.
The Sales Pitch
Everything on your resume should convince a company that you're worth hiring. The best career objectives do that too -- they're not just about what you want, they're about how good you'll be for your new employer. Write your objective to emphasize a key asset, for example, "Position as social media director where I can promote my employer to my 20,000 Twitter followers." The Palladian job-search firm recommends bulleting three top accomplishments tied in with your goal to emphasize your worth.
Writing on the U.S. News Money website, career coach Arnie Fertig says the best career objective is none. Instead, create a "branding statement" that emphasizes your skills rather than your interests, focusing on what makes you stand out from other candidates. Likewise, business writer Alison Green recommends a skills statement rather than a job objective. Green says it's too easy for a career objective to turn an employer off, for example if he wrongly decides your objective is a mismatch for the job opening.
A graduate of Oberlin College, Fraser Sherman began writing in 1981. Since then he's researched and written newspaper and magazine stories on city government, court cases, business, real estate and finance, the uses of new technologies and film history. Sherman has worked for more than a decade as a newspaper reporter, and his magazine articles have been published in "Newsweek," "Air & Space," "Backpacker" and "Boys' Life." Sherman is also the author of three film reference books, with a fourth currently under way.