Once your resume is in the hands of an employer for review, you only have a few seconds to make an impression that shows you are “the candidate” for the job.
In fact, the opening of your resume is the most important real estate on the resume page and describes your brand or value proposition. If an employer can’t quickly see what you have to offer in terms of specific experience, skills, and knowledge the employer can benefit from, it is unlikely he will continue to read on.
It is common to see candidates make the mistake of waiting to highlight the most important points. The recruiter and/or HR professional going through your resume is not looking for a novel so don’t make the employer wait until the body of the resume to highlight the most critical successes of your career. Bring selling points up front and center to make an immediate positive impression.
Here are some key tips to help you in the process of crafting a killer resume opening:
- Avoid stating an “Objective.” This is the old-school resume where you indicate what you are looking for. That’s not going to work well in today’s market where there is an abundant supply of candidates for employers to select from. Replace “Objective” with “Professional Profile” or “Summary of Qualifications” to ensure content is presented in a way to show what you have to offer to the employer.
- Establish your brand or theme. To differentiate yourself from other candidates, consider what you uniquely bring to the table. In short, you are saying, “This is what I do best”. You continue this theme throughout the resume by presenting proof with supporting skills and accomplishments.
- Review the job posting for keywords. Most job postings will detail specifics on what makes a qualified candidate for the position. Work those terms as keywords into your resume opening and other sections. It will help present you as a more relevant and qualified candidate for the job.
- Offer a summary of what you can do and quantify your previous successes. Treat your resume, particularly your opening as a marketing message. Your opening should present information that provides the employer a reason to want you for the job. What are specific experiences and skills you have to offer and what successes have you achieve for others that this employer can appreciate and utilize? Your opening summarizes the qualifications you present with your work history.
- Make sure your resume opening includes these key components. Resume openings come in different styles. Some openings are bullet-points while others choose to work with a 4 to 5 line paragraph statement. Regardless of the format you choose, it should include information about: 1) years of experience in the particular field, 2) specific type of work you did in the particular type of company, organization and/or industry and 3) summary of your achievements, including certifications and awards that apply to the job.
Don’t lose out on an opportunity for an interview simply because your experiences and skills were hidden in your resume. Let the employer know what you have to offer that makes you a successful candidate for the job “up front.” Hook an employer immediately with a killer resume opening and you’ll have a much better shot at securing an interview and the job opportunity.