Resume Opening Statement

How To Craft The Opening Statement Of Your Resume

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The most precious piece of real estate in your entire resume is the top of the first page. At the cursory glance, this is the area that is going to get the most attention. And there are some things you can do to make that most of that – or get your resume tossed in the “not interested” pile.

Crafting The Opening Statement Of Your Resume

Here’s a quick checklist of things NOT to do when crafting the opening statement of your resume:

1. Don’t Generalize

Focus, not generalization is critical. Say, for example, the VP of Sales for a Fortune 500 company gets a hold of your resume. They are reading your opening statement that starts with: “Sales executive with 15 years of experience building teams and consensus, expanding territories and so on…” Ultimately this tells the reader very little.

What questions might this reader have? I guarantee you they are trying to come up with a framework of perspective about you that includes things like: Do you have experience with regional, national or global sales? How big are the teams you have managed? What kind of companies have you called on and what is the dollar figure of the products or services you have represented? Any particular selling skills such as conceptual selling, or academic credentials like MBA? Using a combination of keywords and a brief opening statement, you can paint a picture (quickly) that satisfies (not frustrates) your reader.

2. Don’t Write An Opening Statement Over Six Lines Deep

If you have Googled executive resume writers and seen their samples, you might notice professional resumes are becoming more and more visually impactful and much less dense in text. This is because big blocks of text in your resume will seldom get read. You must say what you wish to say directly, simply and briefly. Focus on the value you bring to the table. In other words, what happens when you do what you do – vs. outlining tasks and skills. After all, what does someone who reads your resume want to know? It sounds harsh, but it is: “What good are you to me? Why should I be reading this?” Your focus on value demonstrates that you “get” that.

3. Don’t Speak In First Person Or Past Tense

New grad resumes, mid-level resumes and executive resumes all have one thing in common: they are written in implied first person. Don’t say: “I offer 5 years of social media marketing experience,” but “offer 5 years of social media marketing experience.”

Bonus Tip

Enhance your opening statement with keywords either above or below it. This is an easy way to help your reader understand your value. For example, a construction executive resume might say: Commercial Construction | Healthcare & Academia | Teams to 400 | P&L To 500 Million.

Want to learn more about crafting your resume? Check out: The Career Artisan Series: The 21st Century Resume Guide for the Perplexed.

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Mary Elizabeth Bradford

Mary Elizabeth Bradford, CERW, MCD, is an award winning resume writer & job search coach. For her free eBook: The 21st Century Job Search, visit: www.maryelizabethbradford.com

4 comments

  1. Hi Victoria,

    Thanks – that’s a great question … but not for a quick answer!

    In brief, having specific keywords such as “conceptual selling” and others such as defining the size and scope of ones strengths as it aligns with your career goals – may not be earth shattering news -but believe me, most resumes completely fail to make this distinction. When that happens – the reader has to wade through text to try to find the answers to basic questions they have. That creates frustration. You=frustration is NOT the first impression you want to make – so that point about the keywords is absolutely critical. I think the issue of simply having a focused and readable resume document is probably not a topic that is addressed enough.

    Second, to me what makes a good opening statement is clarity, authenticity and simplicity. To say something complex in a simple, elegant way – to encapsulate what makes someone special in just 2 or 3 sentences – is a difficult task. However – it is enjoyable to read and has real impact. To see some examples you can visit my resume samples page at: http://www.maryelizabethbradford.com/resumesamples.php.

  2. I definitely agree about avoiding an opening statement that is generalized. What are some examples of “great” opening statements that you can share? Even including keywords such as “conceptual selling” or mentioning an education credential won’t necessarily separate a candidate from the thousands of others who also have an MBA or are adept at conceptual selling. I find that it’s easy to identify the generalizations but more tricky to craft an opening statement that truly gets the job done without being too wordy.

  3. Mary Elizabeth Bradford

    Yes I am a big believer that making the reader hunt and peck for all the info. they need irritates them – not the reaction we are looking for! Of course we are putting in the information carefully – in that it should align with our career goal moving forward.

  4. Hi Mary – your article makes an interesting point about being targeted with your resume. Why write something general and send it to 100 jobs when you can write 10 versions of it and send it to 10 recruiters you know will be interested just by what they have read?

    It helps to try and build a relationship with the recruiter first, so your resume becomes an easy stepping stone to an interview that would have happened anyway!

    - Razwana

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