Long ago, resumes used to be written in a much different format. They began with a statement outlining what the job seeker wanted, followed by an “experience” section that detailed the job seeker’s current job, and ended with the statement “References available upon request.” But today, the time has changed. The hiring industry has become a buyer’s market, and resumes written in the older format no longer attract positive attention. The environment went from being all about the job seeker to all about the potential employer. No longer does a potential employer want to know what the job seeker wants; instead, today’s employers want to know what the job seeker can do for them.
Beginning a resume with the two words “career objective” can send your application straight to the “no” pile. Studies show that the average recruiter reads the top quarter of a resume for anywhere from 5-10 seconds before making a decision about whether or not they want to continue with the applicant. This time is all that you have to make a first impression which is why it is imperative tht the opening of your resume answers the employer’s most important question: What can you do for me?
To answer this question successfully, the beginning of your resume needs to cover three important aspects; skills and qualifications that are important to the position, how you match these skills and qualifications, and how you will be valuable to the company.
The skills and qualifications essential to the position: Thoroughly read the job description and get as much information about the position and company as you can. Identify the keywords, key concepts, and key strengths. Integrate these into your resume’s opening statement and throughout the rest of the resume.
Your skills and qualifications: If you have performed the same job in the past and you are a perfect match for this opening, then it is great, but if you are looking to move up or over in your career and do not match the open position exactly, do not worry.
Look beyond the specific tasks of the role themselves and into the skills and abilities needed to accomplish these tasks. Then, emphasize on your resume the skills you have and how those skills will help you fulfill the responsibilities of the role.
Demonstrate your value: Although you might be tempted to highlight your years of experience, a degree, or even a title, these things do not equate to “value.” Performing a job for a number of years does not mean that you performed the job well. Titles are often meaningless, especially if the company you previously worked for believed in bumping your title without changing your actual job. Certifications and degrees are great, but only if you have learned how to use those things to improve your performance at work. Value is demonstrated by showing that what you did at a company made a positive difference. The difference could have been made for the benefit of the organization, the clients, your team, or just your individual position. When you cannot quantify your achievements, use accurate, descriptive words to convey the message.
Your resume should open with a concise paragraph. Use your first 5-10 seconds of recruiter attention to tell the reader, “Here is what I bring to the table, what I have done before, and what I can do for you.” If you send that message, you will make the recruiter want to learn even more about you.