It doesn't matter whether your resume is scanned by a machine or a real person during the initial phases of a recruitment process. In either case, the most important part of your resume is your opening statement.
There are basically three options for opening your resume: an objective statement, a summary statement or an offering statement.
An "objective statement" explains, usually in one sentence, what you're seeking in a job as a job applicant. It briefly describes your personal interests.
A "summary statement" tends to go into more detail and communicates what you can bring to the table in terms of the job at hand.
Like an "objective statement," an "offering statement" is also very short. It says, "This is what I can do for you." It helps you focus your job marketing plan on meeting your targeted employer's needs.
Let's look at each of these options in more detail.
Articulating an objective can convince employers that you know what you want to do and are familiar with the field.
"Stating your objective on your resume is optional -- having an objective for your resume is not; you need to be clear about your employment goals," writes Alison Doyle, a job search expert with many years of experience in human resources, career development, and job searching.
If you include an objective on your resume, Doyle points out, it's important to customize your resume objective to match the position you seeking. The more specific your resume objective is the better chance you'll have of being considered for the job.
Here is a sample resume objective statement:
"Obtain a position within the pulp paper industry where I can utilize my management skills and experience in quality assurance, program development, and training."
A summary statement can quickly and effectively brand yourself to a prospective employer, according to Dana Leavy, founder of Aspyre Solutions career coaching in New York, which helps young and mid-level professionals through the process of career transitions and effective job search strategy.
Highlight your most relevant strengths, skills and core competencies that are unique to you as a candidate, versus a trait or skill that's an industry or professional standard (i.e. "multi-tasker" or "team-player"), says Leavy.
The summary statement should be approximately four to six lines and speak to your professional background only, according to Leavy. Do not address any outstanding circumstances (employment gaps, change of career, personal experiences etc.). A cover letter is an expanded version of the summary statement, and, in the cover letter, you will have an opportunity to address those other circumstances, should you feel it necessary.
Here is a sample resume summary statement:
"Hands-on executive officer with extensive experience in food processing industry, recognized nationally for planning, developing, implementing and measuring corporate-wide internal and external marketing and branding communication programs designed to align corporate goals with stakeholder interests, resulting in long-term stability and growth."
Note that, in the above example, the candidate touched on the following key elements:
- Core strengths and skill sets most relevant to his or her role
- Past relevant experience with key functions
- Notable accomplishments that he or she intends to repeat in the next role
Blogger Mary Ann offers this recommendation about the focus of your resume's opening statement:
"Replace the typical ‘objective statement' that begins pretty well every resume with an ‘offering' statement.' The former is ‘me' oriented, and the latter is ‘employer' oriented. An ‘offering statement' is brief, reflecting well-selected accomplishments and skills of the job applicant, using action words. An employer is more interested in what an applicant has to offer than what the applicant's personal objectives are."
"...Go back to your past accomplishments. What skills did you use? Make a list of those skills to help you think about them. How did each accomplishment help your company become more successful or profitable? It doesn't have to be a huge difference that you made, but it has to be a difference that contributed to the bottom line. Now take those skills and ask yourself, 'How would I apply them to solve the problems and meet the challenges of the companies I want to work for?
"...It takes a lot of work to develop this kind of statement. You have to learn a lot about the company you are pursuing, including exactly what kind of specific help a particular manager needs."
Mary Ann's "offering statement" is what Nick calls a "value offered" statement. Regardless of precisely what it is called, the idea is to present your skills and accomplishments in terms of the value you bring to meeting the employer's needs.
A well-written offering statement, although not necessarily easy to write, is easy and quick to present and pass along to the right decision maker.
Here is a sample resume offering statement:
"I will enhance your company web site's usefulness as a marketing channel by developing it as a gathering place for those within your niche disability audience who seek opportunities to discuss issues which are important to them."
In this example, the jobseeker is marketing a service designed to meet a need for a specific person within a particular company -- a service that only he or she can best provide. That targeted employer could be the marketing manager of a company which is trying to promote its particular line of adaptive technology for workplace situations through a static web site.
An offering statement is like a summary statement for a business plan. Like an offering statement, a summary statement in a business plan often succinctly defines what value a proposed project has for potential investors. In an offering statement, you're briefly describing what value (specific benefits) you offer your potential supervisor.
You can often use your offering statement outside of your resume and portfolio. It can come in handy when you are updating your profile in LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter or any other social networking situation.
In all three approaches, the upfront statement is often the first item read, so get to the point. As briefly as possible, tell why your prospective employer should hire you -- regardless of which option you use.
Copyright © 2012. Hasse Communication Counseling. All rights reserved.
Jim Hasse, ABC, GCDF, (www.jimhasse.com) has compiled and edited the recommendations of HR experts and the personal observations of both job seekers and hiring managers into Perfectly Able: How to Attract and Hire Talented People with Disabilities (www.perfectlyable.com), a comprehensive disability recruitment guidebook for hiring managers published by AMACOM (September 2010), the publishing arm of the American Management Association. Lighthouse International (www.lighthouse.org), New York City, is the author of the 272-page hard-cover book, which continues to evolve online on Hasse's forum, Timely Tips for Retaining Employee Talent (forum.perfectlyable.com). Jim is founder of www.cerebral-palsy-career-builders.com, the comprehensive career coaching guide for parenting youngsters seven to 27 years old who have cerebral palsy.