Are you still clinging to the idea of starting your resume with an objective? You know the kind: “Position utilizing my extensive background in technology sales and marketing.” Or maybe: “Growth-oriented technical sales position in a well-established company.”
Stop! Please! These are painful.
I hate to tell you this, but you’ve just put your intended audience (potential employers) to sleep! Or worse, you’ve sent them rushing on to the next resume–your competitor’s.
Why an Objective Doesn’t Work Well – If at All
First, too often you use an objective that says more about what you want from the company than what it can gain by hiring you.
Second, an objective tends to look and sound more or less generic, so it fails to distinguish you from your competition–that is, make you stand out from the herd.
Finally, an objective basically wastes valuable “real estate” (space) by stating the obvious (“I want a job”).
Why an Executive Summary is Better – Or Could Be
Quick note: “Executive” doesn’t mean you can’t use one unless you are a senior-level person already; you could word yours somewhat differently so it’s appropriate for your situation.
A good executive summary gives prospective employers a quick snapshot of your potential value–it doesn’t make them try to decipher that by reading reams of material.
While your executive summary does need to be concise, that doesn’t mean you can’t indicate your core value-added/ROI message to employers. Quite the contrary! It’s critical that you communicate exactly that–clearly, concisely and compellingly. To do that effectively, you need to find ways to measure your success.
For example, suppose you’re a turnaround specialist (brought in to fix something that’s not working well or on the verge of failing completely). Your executive summary might include the following statement:
“Turned around three under-performing organizations in seven years.”
Of course, you’ll eventually need to give employers more to go on than that–but save it for the experience section of your resume. For now, you want to offer a significant “teaser” that strongly suggests they would benefit by investing more time in reviewing the resume.
Here’s just one example of what can be done in a concise executive summary–this is the opening of the summary for a senior sales and business development executive:
“Known as a ‘won’t quit’ sales executive who delivers profitable, annual sales growth of 12-16% by building and motivating teams dedicated to achieving and exceeding tough revenue goals. Diverse experience spanning startups to Fortune 500 companies, including P&L management and global team leadership.”
Your Resume’s First Impression–It’s Critical to Success
As mentioned above, your resume needs to capture employer attention and interest early on. Keep in mind the old saying, “You don’t get a second chance to make a good first impression.” A bare-bones and potentially boring objective won’t do it, but a well-crafted executive summary can and should.
And while I’m at it, make sure you give your summary a strong heading–something more attention-getting than “Career Summary” or even “Executive Summary.” You need to hook the reader (employer) quickly and give him/her a sense of potential value to come. One example could be: “Global Turnaround Executive.” This heading indicates scope (global) and level (executive) while also spotlighting the area of special value (turnaround)–with only three words.
You can apply a similar approach to create the resume impact you need–with a strong executive summary at the beginning instead of an outdated objective.
Of course, a great executive summary for your resume is only the beginning. By itself, it won’t attract and hold employer attention, but it’s a critical step on your road to job search success. And the sooner you take it, the better.