Before a recruiter or hiring manager can find typos, inconsistent tenses, gaps in time, or other factors that go into evaluating a resume, there’s one thing that’s even more important: The summary.
Your resume summary is the opportunity to communicate your personal brand attributes and highlight your top strengths. This section is often taken for granted and usually includes an archaic career objective or summary that might as well say, “Hey, I sound like everyone else, but hire me anyway”.
So let’s take at look at two things you can do that will immediately improve your resume’s first impression.
Ditch the Career Objectives
Leading with your career objectives in your resume is like mentioning your desire to get married on a first date. Great if that’s your end goal, but how about showing that you’re actually a good catch first. In terms of employment, that means what are your skills and how do they solve problems.
When your resume is read, or better yet, scanned, the recruiter is assessing whether or not your skills and experience are a good match for the position. Talking about what you want isn’t showing what’s in it for a company to hire you.
To be fair, there was a time when including a career objective was the norm, but it’s not anymore. (This should mostly be reserved for new graduates or entry-level professionals on a case-by-case basis). If you’re a senior-level professional, it’s more important to use your summary to show your value.
Lead With Your Personal Brand
Your resume is no longer just a document that chronicles your work experience. It’s your brand’s marketing tool that will help you stand out from other candidates and sell your skills to a company.
The top third of your resume is prime real estate because this is where you give a synopsis of your brand story and overall career experience. This is the perfect opportunity to highlight your skills and unique selling points (USP), which are the qualities that make you different from the competition.
Unnecessary career objectives or generic career summaries do not make a good first impression because:
- Your lead-in should be more than the fact that you’re a “team player” or “business professional” with “x” amount of years’ experience.
- Your personal brand is missing and, therefore, you don’t stand out from other candidates with the same skills.
- Your “Objectives” are not important to the employer (yet).
The key is to make it easy for the hiring manager to match your skills against the job they are trying to fill. If you don’t lead with the exact qualities they are looking for in an enticing way, they will quickly move on to the next candidate.
Let’s take a look at an example of two summary statements:
Candidate 1: Attentive business professional looking to work in a challenging and fast-paced environment with the opportunity to grow.
Candidate 2: Attentive customer service professional with a knack for handling multiple tasks, resolving issues, and providing exceptional customer service—consistently exceeding expectations.
What’s the difference?
The first candidate says: This is what I want and I’ll work for any company that will give me a chance.
The second candidate says: This is what makes me unique in my field, and my skills would be of great value to your company.
Now, take a look at your resume and ask yourself this question: Does my summary show my personal brand and how my skills are valuable?
Making just the right tweaks to your resume can have a bigger impact on getting calls for interviews. Now tweak away and really show why you’re the best candidate for the position.
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