Each new position necessitates strategic use of your résumé. One element that can enhance or encumber your résumé is an objective statement. Objective statements are not necessary for all job searches, but properly deployed they can help you stand out in a mountain of applications.

A résumé objective statement is 1–2 sentences that explain your career goals in the context of this position. The statement serves as a bridge: it connects your experience to the position you’re applying for. Why is this necessary for some applications and not others? If your experience is obviously relevant for the position at hand, a résumé summary can be a better use of precious space. If you are new to the field, changing industries, or shifting positions, a résumé objective statement spells out how and why you are qualified for the job.

If you’ve determined that an objective statement will benefit your résumé, we have four principles to guide you:

Customize for each position. An objective statement is not a canned commodity that you can leave in each résumé. Your statement must be updated with each application. The same position will look different at a different institution and your statement should as well.

Reflect your experience. Your statement should allow your strategic advantage to shine. What do you bring to this position that other applicants don’t?

Integrate your goals. While your experience will reflect the past, your objective statement is oriented toward the future. It shows how you will enhance the position and institution moving forward.

Keep it targeted. A well-crafted objective statement is focused. Don’t exceed two sentences. Ask yourself: what is the one thing I want them to remember? The statement should center on the institution and position, demonstrating how you will be an asset to their future.